"This place is not just for climbers, if you enjoy spending your time in the outdoors then Chulilla is also for you."
We have just returned from an extended break climbing in Chulilla, a beautiful village in the Valencia region of Spain. It's a dramatic gorge with climbing routes bolted all the way along. It's literally a climbers wet dream. We had previously wet our appetites for this place a few weekends previous, definitely leaving Chulilla thinking we had unfinished business. Truth be told it will be a lot more visits until we are done here. This place is not just for climbers, if you enjoy spending your time in the outdoors then Chulilla is also for you. On weekends and holidays Spanish families and friends descend on Chulilla exploring the stunning gorge and pretty village.
The climbing in Chulilla is spectacular, it took a few days for me to get to grips with just how much climbing there is! There are so many different styles and grades from 4 > 8c+. For me it's the long endurance fest, pumpy single pitch routes that make the climbing in Chulilla spectacular. You just don't get this at the crags back home in England. My pick of all the routes we did and one that should be the poster girl for the climbing here is the route "Blocando Dos" at Monte De Venus sector, a 42 metre 7a, yup 42 metres! It's possible with an 80m rope, just tie a knot in the end. This route is a pitch of pure beauty, enough to remind any climber just why we climb. Non stop flowing moves, laybacks on tufas to endless undercuts, this route alone makes you feel like a dancer on the rock. The high quality of the rock climbing here leads many people to say "I'm not climbing a route unless it's got 3 stars in the guide". I don't follow this belief but it is a great example of just how many quality climbs there are here.
Jason climbing El Regalito 7b (Sector Tierra De Nadie)
Jason attempting Sin Pena Ni Gloria 7a+ (Sector Oasis)
Jason warming up on Richi 6b+ (Sector Oasis)
Naomi on Cantalobos 7b (Tierra De Nadie)
WHERE TO STAY
In total we spent around 14 days climbing in Chulilla and we could have stayed a lot longer. We had the pleasure of staying at El Altico Hostel. Perched on the top of the hill staring right at the beautiful rock face. We camped in their grounds and by doing so we had access to the facilities there, such as the kitchen, showers, toilets and the communal areas. The hostel in my opinion is the best place to stay, not just because of the facilities, which are great but for the social side. The communal areas are a great place to chill and whether it's a rest day or in the evening there is always new people to meet and most importantly loads of climbing conversations and route recommendations flying around. They have private rooms, dorms, a caravan you can rent and camping spots if you have your own tent/van/car. On this short trip alone we made so many new friends and met some really inspiring climbers. It's so hard not to leave that place psyched for climbing and Chulilla. You can cook in the kitchen or alternatively eat the food prepared by Pedro and Nuria. They serve delicious food and at €11 for 3 courses including wine it's pretty cheap(you need to order this in advance). Pedro Pons and Nuria run the place, they are warm and friendly and often can be found trying their best to teach the gringos some Spanish. One other thing they have just right is the balance, we did not find people staying up late and partying it was nice and relaxed, we are here to climb after all.
The climbing bar Goscanos also has rooms to rent but again I suggest calling them first. If you fancy staying out of Chulilla you could look at Villar Del Arzobispo or Villar Del Obispo, these places are close and would be good locations to drive in on a daily basis.
The El Altico Hostel
The view from the back of El Altico Hostel, Chulilla
THE GUIDE BOOK
A new guide book has just been published which is great and a side by side comparison to the old one it looks like it has doubled in size. So if it's a while since you've been here maybe its time to come back. All the funds from the sale of the guide goes to the bolting and maintenance of the area. The book can be bought from most of the local shops or at El Altico. There are loads of great climbing areas in Chulilla. Most seem to flock to sector Oasis, however I really recommend you try other sectors as Chulilla has more to offer. Oasis is great because it offers shade all day but it can be insanely busy and you can find yourself queuing for routes! If you only spend your time at Oasis you are missing out on some really great lines. I will put my route recommendations at the end of the blog.
The new guide book
WHERE TO EAT
I suppose this is really dependant on your budget. We are travelling for a longtime so we cooked our own food most of the time in the hostel kitchen, which really helped us to keep costs down. We only had the pleasure of eating once at the restaurant in El Altico and it was excellent. Thankfully we ate there on our last evening otherwise I think we would have eaten there every night. Other people who ate there every night confirmed that the food was always excellent and varied. The food is Spanish food at it's best, simple, healthy, home cooked food to a high standard and a bargain for €11 for 3 courses and wine. The only downside to this is I'm not sure if you can eat there if you're not staying at the hostel. There are a few restaurants in town, a nice bakery which is busy on a morning and sells lovely breads along with sweet and savoury sending treats. There is also a small shop in the village so if you arrive to Chulilla by bus there is enough in the village for you to survive. If you are cooking at the hostel or in an apartment there is a large Consum supermarket in Villar Del Arzobispo. Villa Del Obispo also has a couple of places to eat and a delicious bakery which seems to be open until the evening. If you go there we recommend you try the torta del almendras, it's like a large savoury salted biscuit with almonds, the cebolla(onion) empanadas are delicious too and also make sure you try the zuzu's, a puff doughnut like cake filled with crema.
Taking a break from climbing in Chulilla can be hard, but remember your body needs it. On rest days you can take a trip into the charming city of Valencia. It's possible to catch a train into Valencia if you drive to the local train station or alternatively you can drive there. If you have never been this is a beautiful city full of culture, architecture and great food! If you enjoy good beer Valencia has some great micro breweries such as Birra&Blues, SRAMaltworth and Olhops. You could even take in a football match if you time it right.
Casinos is also another great place to visit, a historical town famous for its almond produce as its located in the "valley of the almonds". The following shop is recommended for picking up local produce Navarro.
If you are staying at the El Altico Hostel there is a pool, bouldering gym and loads of nice places to lounge around.
There are also plenty of great walks especially the walk up to the cross above the city which gives some spectacular views.
A shot of Chulilla from the gorge floor
iPhone picture of the river in Chulilla
THE HARD SELL(not that it needs it)
Chulilla is one of those places that has everything, a quaint little Spanish town, great climbers bar, stunning scenery, local bars, fantastic walking/hiking and more than a life times worth of outstanding climbing. Even if you are not a climber you will love this place! If you're trying to pick your next climbing holiday in Spain look no further. All the climbing is concentrated in one area so once you are here you can concentrate on climbing and nothing else. The climbing in Chulilla should come with a public health warning "you will leave here with sore fingers, smiles and wanting more". The Season runs from October to May depending on the conditions you like to climb in.
Looking out from sector Oasis
CHULILLA ROUTE LIST
El Munro De Las Lamentaciones (Great sector)
Yorkshire Pudding 6b
Barbarian Purity 6b
El Ramallito 6c -recommended
Las lituanas 6b
Leeds Wall 6b+
Presis Crack 6c+ -recommended
Tierra De Nadie (Great sector)
Cantalobos 7b -recommended
El Regalito 7b -recommended
Sex Shop (Great sector)
Conflicto Territorial 7a+ - open
Terror Bajo El Culo 6b
La Retrobada 6c
Iván El Terrible 6b
El Fantasma De La Ópera 7a - recommended
Fantasía (Good area for lower grades, different style to the gorge)
Matías El Semental 6b+
Kala Kolum 6b
La Chelvana Siempre Falla 6b
Alergia Al Polvo 6b+
El Reforno Del Pato 6c
La Pelota De Kalo 6b
Monte de Venus (Great sector)
Blocando dos 7a (beautiful line!) - recommended
Top Of The Rock 7a - recommended
Sin Pena Ni Gloria 7a+ Open
Long Dong Jhon 6b+ -recommended
Please, please respect the area take all trash out, don't poo at the crags or if you do take it out. Be respectful of the locals and others. Keep Chulilla beautiful.