/ El chorro for outdoor newbies?

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Mrchips - on 04 Dec 2012
Gf & I are thinking of heading to el chorro for a few days over the mayday weekend next year. We’re both climbing up to ~6a indoors but have only been outdoors once before at les Gaillands in Chamonix.
There, we took a guide for the day as we had never been on an outdoor crag before but mainly for the use of their rope/draws & helmets as we couldn’t spare the weight/space to bring gear from home.

What are the general thoughts about el chorro for outdoor beginners?

Would we be out of our depth if we went out with big rope/draws/helmets & copy of rocfax? Or, if we decide think we’d be better with a guide for a few days, is it easy enough to find one locally?

I should mention, I have no problems with threading lower-offs and we wouldn’t be doing any multi-pitch routes.

thanks for any help!
GridNorth - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Mrchips: You should be ok but Costa Blanca will give you a lot more choice although you would have to drive around more.
GrahamD - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Mrchips:

Only you can decide whether you will be out of your depth. If you are happy to treat the whole thing as a learning experience and that some routes will feel like they are much harder than expected or that you don't even manage to find some routes (given that guidebooks are definately not 100% accurate) then go for it and enjoy.

If you are unsure whether you have the skills to belay or lower off safely then maybe guide or just hang out with other more experienced climbers between now and May.
silhouette - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Mrchips: Yes many of the sectors at El Chorro are benevolent not only in terms of the grades but also because there will be other folk there to chat to. This is especially true of the Frontales sectors down by the village and up at the Arab Steps. A few things; you might consider going earlier, say late February as it could be too hot in May in the direct sun (there will be shaded crags accessed by the walkway however). If you stay in the village or at the Olive Branch you will not need a car. Some sectors have several hundred metres of rock above them with walkers kicking stones down so it can be worth keeping your helmet on when having lunch. I speak from experience.
Motown - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Mrchips: My first trip abroad was there and that was fantastic. The Camino is an incredible experience and there's a load of routes that are suitable - Plenty on Frontales, Los Cotos is great (and in the gorge) and Turon is a bit of isolated heaven.

And if you've got till May you'll be climbing 7a anyway...
Mrchips - on 05 Dec 2012
Thanks for the great tips everybody - unfortunately we're tied to the mayday weekend (it is a little late).

Will also look at Costa Blanca as it gives us more flight options (direct from Belfast) and it may give us more options at a beginner/intermediate level that el chorro

Mrchips - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Mrchips:

Have had a change of plans and now think the Ariège in the Pyrenees would be much better (esp. as we both speak french).

It's a toss-up between going in June & September, can anyone who knows the area suggest which would be the better time to visit?

We'd also like to do some rafting/kayaking & high mountain trekking - this may help decide what time of year to visit??
niallG on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Mrchips:
> Gf & I are thinking of heading to el chorro for a few days...snip snip.. if we decide think we’d be better with a guide for a few days, is it easy enough to find one locally?

http://urbanomountaineering.blogspot.co.uk/

I think he is still in chorro at the moment if you want a guide. In general having a guide can improve the experience and get you quickly to what you want without the faffing. It can also challenge you and improve your game.

Good luck with your choices,

N
Mark Bull - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Mrchips:
> (In reply to Mrchips)
>
> Have had a change of plans and now think the Ariège in the Pyrenees would be much better (esp. as we both speak french).
>
> It's a toss-up between going in June & September, can anyone who knows the area suggest which would be the better time to visit?
>
> We'd also like to do some rafting/kayaking & high mountain trekking - this may help decide what time of year to visit??


Either June or September are fine for rock-climbing: the climate in both is similar and you are outside the main French holiday season. South facing crags could get a bit on the warm side. If you want to go up into the mountains, then there can still be some snow about in June, and an ice axe may be handy. River crossings can be tricky due to snow melt.

Calames and Auzat are the stand-out crags at F5-F6a+, but there is plenty else to go at. If you need some information about mountain hiking in the area, please let me know.


Mrchips - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to Mark Bull:
Thanks for that - looks like we'll head in June. Calames is 5 mins from where we plan to stay, excellent! Will pick up the new rockfax for Ariege to keep us right.

I may take you up on that offer for some mountain hiking info a little closer to the time, thanks!
Kid Spatula - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to Mrchips:

Will never understand this "get a guide" thing. Just go and figure it out! It's more fun that way.*



*Although I did mess up quite spectacularly in this manner in the Alps.
Mrchips - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to Kid Spatula:
Each to their own I say

I suppose you could just rock up at the first crag you find, spend a frustrating day faffing about on climbs that are way above your grade and go home feeling you've wasted your precious holiday time...

or spend a tenner on a book, pick the most appropriate crag for your grade,climb routes that are both enjoyable & challenging & go home happy...

That's my way of looking at it
jazzyjackson on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to Mrchips:

6a wont give you very much choice in Chorro but you will still have a great time there taking in the Chorro experience. Explore the catwalk and tick the 6a routes dotted about the place.

Shame you dont do m,ultipitch as there are some great low grade 6a and below multi routes that would keep u busy for the day!

Enjoy
Kid Spatula - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to Mrchips:

I meant a mountain guide! Clearly a paper guide is OK or you'd have a really rubbish time!
hms - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to Mrchips: could I also suggest investing in a clipstick - there are a couple that are compact enough to go in a suitcase. This then gives you a way of dogging the rope up if you find the route is beyond you, so you can then have go on a toprope. Also always take a few leaver crabs or maillons so if it all goes horribly wrong you can bail from one. Your local climbing centre may have old crabs which they have retired and are willing to give you.
Mrchips - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to hms: good point on the maillons, will def pick up a couple before we head out, thanks!
Mrchips - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to Kid Spatula: apologies for the misunderstanding! :-)

Though I guess when it comes to instructors it's each to their own again.

We hired an instructor for the day last year in Les Gaillands in Chamonix, mainly because we couldn't bring a rope with us because of baggage restrictions. Even if we'd been able to bring one we probably still would have because neither of us had ever climbed outdoors before. Turned out she spent most of the day watching us but I did learn a better way of threading the belay.
niallG on 21 Dec 2012
In reply to Mrchips:

The right guide- briefed in the right way can make a massive difference to how you enjoy the place and how you progress your climbing. Its a very UK attitude to pass on that and try to fumble along. Anyway- it is person dependant on who you hire.

N
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niallG on 21 Dec 2012
In reply to niallG:

I didnt mean to say "fumble" in a bad way- I just meant not learn in an ordered way. I mean most of our learning we do in a formal way- we dont learn to drive by Osmosis for example- we get instruction.

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