Destination Guide: Chulilla, Spain

by Jack Geldard - Consulting Editor Mar/2014
This article has been read 20,171 times

The beautiful limestone gorge of Chulilla sits just an hour away from the Spanish city of Valencia and its airport.

Whilst not a new climbing destination, its popularity has increased in recent years and it is now considered a ‘must visit’ venue for those who favour a winter trip to sunny Spain over the cold grey English mornings.

Chulilla village from Sector 'Las Lamentaciones', 149 kbChulilla village from Sector 'Las Lamentaciones'
© Fraser, Dec 2015

With a range of grades from the low 6s through to the mid to high 8s, Chulilla caters for most climbers. The routes are in general quite long, with stamina being the order of the day at this picturesque venue.

"Chulilla is the best area I have been to in Spain!"

Whilst having routes at all grades, many people consider Chulilla to be 7c heaven, and for those operating at around that grade they will find an almost endless supply of quality routes, in a similar style to the other Spanish sport haven of Terradets. In the lower grades there is still plenty to go at, with tufas, pockets and crimpy wall climbs in a gorgeous setting littering both sides of this peaceful gorge.

In between routes in Chulilla, wearing the Groundup Plain T, 61 kbRob Greenwood at Chulilla
Here's UKC's very own Rob Greenwood's take on some of his favourite routes:

Under 7a

  • Long Dong Jhon 6b+, Chorreras - "40m of superbly unconventional tufa climbing, a voyage into an alien world"
  • Cantina Marina 6c+, Chorreras - "Ok, this is a bit unimaginative simply because it's only a few routes across from the previous one in the list, but it's SO GOOD!"
  • La Diagonal (P1) 6c+, Enfrentes - "Good line, good climbing, and a nice hole to rest/crawl into after all the hard climbing is over - what's not to like about that?!"

7a-7c

  • Los Caminantes (L1 + L2), Chorreras - "I still think this is one of the best routes I’ve done in the area: 55m of tufa insanity. Kalymnos eat your heart out..."
  • Segul lluitan 7b, Nanopark - "Last route I did on the trip and the best of the grade I’ve done in Chulilla; furthermore, it’s in a slightly different area to the rest of the routes so well worth seeking out"
  • Los Franceses 7b+, Enfrentes - "Vaguely reminiscent of an E6 at Stackpole Head in Pembroke, with big, burly moves around roofs + overlaps. However the trouble really begins when you're past these and onto the pumpy headwall above, it keeps coming and coming and coming (until you're going)"

Something a little more reasonable:

  • Richer line 7a, Oasis - "I might have put down Plan Z dos but this is way better and way more 7a"
  • Blue Agave 7a, Lamentatciones - "A soaring crackline going straight up the crag. Much like Plan Z (mentioned above), it is pleasantly soft, but we all need something soft for the grade once in a while don't we - life's hard enough..."

Article author Jack Geldard on the classic 7b+ Los Franceses, 75 kbArticle author Jack Geldard on the classic 7b+ Los Franceses
© Stephen Horne
Yes you will have to come out sooner or later... Jack finds the 'no hands, no feet' rest on La diagonal, 168 kbYes you will have to come out sooner or later... Jack finds the 'no hands, no feet' rest on La diagonal
© TimC123, Nov 2013

The beautiful village of Chulilla is a small, rambling mountain settlement, but has a couple of shops and bars and the tourist information has free wifi, you can pick it up in the town square.

The climate here is warm, and often when the more northern cliffs of Siurana and Montsant are chilly, Chulilla can offer warmer rock and a more pleasant holiday feel. Of course it is very hot in the summer months and climbing then isn’t recommended unless you are a real heat lover.

The crags flank a river on both sides, forming a beautiful and tranquil gorge, which not only appeals aesthetically, but also provides sun or shade depending on the time of day and the side you wish to climb, meaning you can tailor your temperature to suit your needs.

Mark Glaister in Chulilla, 88 kbMark Glaister in Chulilla
© Stephen Horne
Seasoned veteran Mark Glaister's pick of the best in the lower grades in a spread of areas:

Sector Ceguara:

Sector La Peneta:

Sector Fantasia:

Sector Cherales:

Pesadilla de un borracho L1 L2 5c, 6a+ - "A lovely and technical two-pitch route."

A climber on the first pitch of the excellent 6a+ Pesadilla de un Borracho , 182 kbA climber on the first pitch of the excellent 6a+ Pesadilla de un Borracho
© Mark Glaister

Emma Roderick on the brilliant groove of ?, 62 kbEmma Roderick on the brilliant groove of ?
UKC Articles, May 2016
© Stephen Horne


Rhiannon Williams on Danos Colaterales, 63 kbRhiannon Williams on Danos Colaterales
UKC Articles, May 2016
© Stephen Horne

A climber on the brilliant 6c+ of Cantina Marina, Chulilla, 165 kbA climber on the brilliant 6c+ of Cantina Marina, Chulilla
© Mark Glaister

UKC Editor Natale Berry brings out the big guns on El Regalito (7b), 170 kbUKC Editor Natale Berry brings out the big guns on El Regalito (7b)
© Mark Glaister

UKC PHOTO GALLERY: Chulilla, Spain

Photo Gallery

Natalie Berry on Dura dale Negro, Chulilla

Natalie Berry on Dura dale Negro, Chulilla
© Dark Sky Media

Grabbing a sunny pew in Chulilla

Grabbing a sunny pew in Chulilla
© Fraser

Yes you will have to come out sooner or later... Jack finds the 'no hands, no feet' rest on La diagonal

Yes you will have to come out sooner or later... Jack finds the 'no hands, no feet' rest on La diagonal
© TimC123

Stevie on the crux moves, Bolas chinas

Stevie on the crux moves, Bolas chinas
© TimC123

Stevie cruising the Crux moves on Bolas Chinas

Stevie cruising the Crux moves on Bolas Chinas
© TimC123

Welcome early evening sun on the awesome Sector Embalse.

Welcome early evening sun on the awesome Sector Embalse.
© Rich Kirby

Starting up the excellent 'Long Jong John', Chulilla

Starting up the excellent 'Long Jong John', Chulilla
© Fraser

Chulilla village from Sector 'Las Lamentaciones'

Chulilla village from Sector 'Las Lamentaciones'
© Fraser

Long Dong Jhon, Chulilla

Long Dong Jhon, Chulilla
© Fraser

Jack effortlessly crushing the classic 'la diagonal' crack at Chulilla

Jack effortlessly crushing the classic 'la diagonal' crack at Chulilla
© TimC123

Sector Oasis at Chulilla, from the sunny side.

Sector Oasis at Chulilla, from the sunny side.
© Fraser

Old school crag: 'Sector Prehistorico', Chulilla

Old school crag: 'Sector Prehistorico', Chulilla
© Fraser


Logistics

When do I go?

Autumn through to Spring gives the best climbing temperatures. The weather is generally good and warm. This is a good winter venue.

Who flies where?

Valencia airport is your closest, at just 1 hour away, but it is possible to combine a trip to Chulilla with more northerly crags or the Costa Blanca further south. Alicante Airport is around 3 hours drive.

Where do I stay?

It's possible to rent apartments in the village at a cheap price and many climbers just sleep in their vans in and around the village.

Also we would recommend the good value climbers hostel El Altico.

It does great food and coffee, has a fantastic indoor bouldering wall, an outdoor swimming pool, a terrace and conservatory overlooking the crags, and is run by local climbing legend Pedro Pons. You can also sleep in your van in their car park, and use the hostel facilities for a reduced price.

The dining room of hostel El Altico, 166 kbThe dining room of hostel El Altico
© Jack Geldard

What's the scoff like?

The small shop and bakery in the village do provide enough to get by, with similar range to a small 'Spar' type shop in the UK, but it might be a good idea to stock up on food in a bigger town before arriving.

There is a supermarket in the nearby Villar del Arzobispo.

The food is very cheap in general, as with everything in Spain.

The food cooked at the hostel is very good.

There are several small bars in the village that do food, but we didn't sample any dishes, just a few bottles of San Miguel...

Which guide do I buy?

There is a relatively recent guidebook to Chulilla, available at the hostel.

Where can I buy gear and chalk?

There's nowhere in the village to buy any climbing gear, you will need to bring it all with you. The hostel does sell a small amount of kit, including chalk, but probably still best to come equipped.

What else is there apart from the climbing?

The gorge itself is very beautiful, and has a walkway and many trails around it. The hiking in the area is stunning. Aside from that, options are quite limited, as this is a remote mountain village. Valencia is one hour away, with all the sights and sounds of a big Spanish city.

The village of Chulilla, 151 kbThe village of Chulilla
© Jack Geldard

Forums ( Read more )

More posts from this series

Staff Picks

May 2014

thumb Mick Ward takes a nostalgic look back at British climbing, from the post-war boom through to the swinging sixties and... Read more

What's Hot Right Now

8 Aug 2016

thumb It was almost three months ago when an amazing image popped up on John McCune's Instagram feed. "Jesus!" I thought. That looks... Read more

Top Spot: Climbing Destination

Jan 2009

thumb The Gorge at El Chorro is a huge limestone defile that slices through the mountain range just 50km inland from the city of... Read more