/ El Chorro - Camino Del Rey Soon to Close!!!!!!

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For anyone who knows and loves El Chorro, here is the most up to date information I have on the subject of the Camino's refurbishment work.

Currently, the Camino is still open as usual. Work has started, mostly surveying and training, but access will be as normal until the end of the month.

In April (no date confirmed as yet) the walkway will be closed to everyone. I know they have talked about doing it for years but this is actually it.

The local climbing association, in conjunction with the El Chorro Bolt Fund is working hard to maintain access to the important climbs, and as it stands access to all routes starting at the base of the gorge will be kept open (Africa, Zeppelin, the base of El Recodo and a whole load of less well known multipitches).

We are looking at ways to create new access to these routes and hopefully negotiate something for some of the classic routes that start on the walkway, and it is all possible, but nothing is decided as yet.

Access to Makinodromo, Los Cotos and El Polvorin will not be affected any time soon as the train company are not involved in the development, but I will keep a close eye on it.

It is a sad loss for El Chorro, the walkway is steeped in climbing heritage and also a rite of passage for so many over the years, but it will be open again to walk through once the refurbishment is finished, and we are working hard to make sure as much of the historical climbing is kept open to climbers.

If you have fond memories of the place and want to get that last trip through the gorge in, now is the time. But also everyone should know there are new routes, including multipitches, being bolted every year in El Chorro and all of these are open to everyone. The vast majority of the climbing here is well away from the gorge.

I will endaevour to keep posting updates if I find out anything useful!
funsized on 18 Mar 2014
In reply to tom.ireson:
Hi,

Do you know if they are planning on charging for use of the refurbished walkway?

Jonny

Edit: Also out of interest, I've seen you guys re-equipping the via-ferrata on the walkways many times when visiting el chorro (good effort btw). Will the refurbishment use the via-ferrata during the construction process for safety lines etc? or will they equip their own safety gear? If they use the via-ferrata at all, is there some case for them to contribute to the bolt fund? :)
Post edited at 10:09
GeoffRadcliffe - on 18 Mar 2014
In reply to tom.ireson:

What is the best way to get to Makinodromo, Los Cotos and El Polvorin if the Camino is closed? Presumably, you are not allowed to walk through the railway tunnels?
JHiley on 18 Mar 2014
In reply to tom.ireson:

Thanks for the information.

In another thread someone said that the steel cables are going to be recovered in the next few days, surely this will make the walkway much more serious for anyone wanting to bag it before it closes.

Also how does what the railway company does affect what happens with access to Los Cotos etc? If the walkway is closed surely you're still not technically allowed to walk through the tunnel so the only legal access is a very big hike.



rocky57 - on 18 Mar 2014
In reply to tom.ireson:

Hi Tom
You seem to be winning in the information stakes at the moment. So I appreciate you posting UP what you know, and looking forward to further updates. I fly out to El Chorro quite a lot, so anything you can add is extemely useful.
Thanks
RFS
Toerag - on 19 Mar 2014
In reply to tom.ireson:

how long will it be out of action for?
DomClarke on 28 Mar 2014
In reply to tom.ireson:

Any updates on when it will be closed from? Heading out soon and was wanting to do this...
dereke12000 - on 31 Mar 2014
In reply to tom.ireson:

Still open on Sunday 30 March, both lower and upper gorges. only thing is the old rope is no longer there on the first section of steel brackets before you climb up to the walkway [not a massive problem]
martinindevon on 31 Mar 2014
In reply to dereke12000:

Heading out to El Chorro on 10th April, I am guessing the walkway will be closed by then. Not to happy with using the railway tunnels, is there a way to hike into Los Cotos etc? How long does this take? How frequent are the trains through the tunnels? Cherz
AJM - on 31 Mar 2014
In reply to martinindevon:

Trains are one every hour or two?

The tunnels and bridges are pretty large in comparison to the actual space taken up by a train. There are, for example, boxes, speed signs and other pieces of trackside equipment in them which are not packed tight against the wall and which quite obviously the trains do not hit. Your call, your judgement, obviously.

I imagine, fwiw, that Makinodromo and cotos will be ovens by the start of April anyway, as will Polvorin after about 2pm...

drysori - on 31 Mar 2014
In reply to AJM:

Temperature variation can be quite big in April. With a stiff breeze and some cloud it can still be quite chilly. You're right that it'll be scorching at those venues if its reasonably still and sunny though. Choose your days carefully!
martinindevon on 01 Apr 2014
In reply to drysori:

Thank you for the info. If the tunnels are as you describe I may reconsider. Looking forward to the trip in any case. Went out January last year and loved it.
rocky57 - on 01 Apr 2014
In reply to martinindevon:

The tunnels are wide enough, just don't get caught by the police emerging from the one near the green railway bridge. If you are passing through the tunnels see if you can see the body (remains) of a rather stiff dead fox that I stood up against the wall of the tunnel last month. Frightened the life out of me as I nearly stood on it in the darkness.
lostcat on 02 Apr 2014
In reply to martinindevon:

I'll second that the tunnels are much wider than the average British train tunnel. The only thing I felt nervous about was being caught by the cops.
Sean_J - on 02 Apr 2014
In reply to tom.ireson:

When is the last time anyone actually saw any policemen at the tunnel entrances, out of interest? I've been going to Chorro regularly but not seen any guards since about 2007. Maybe i'm just lucky...
rocky57 - on 02 Apr 2014
In reply to Sean_J:

I'm in Chorro about 50-60 times a year, and I've seen them lots of times. They tend to focus on Sundays mainly and bank holidays, as that is when Jose Publico takes his family and the pet dogs for a walk through the tunnels to see the Camino Del Rey. And yes, I have seen them arresting people, at the same time as I come off the walkway and get ignored, unless I can manage to get a Hola from them (which ain't often).
HIGHTOWER - on 02 Apr 2014
In reply to tom.ireson:

I'm in el chorro now, and they have started to remove the cables. We were in the station bar the other day and saw a bunch of the cables being wrapped up. Very glad I got across it last week.
Motown - on 21 Apr 2014
In reply to tom.ireson:

Some mixed messages on here. Went through the Lower gorge two days ago and all safety wires were in place. The only thing missing since my last visit - two years ago - was the rope on the initial via ferrata section and this provides no access issues.

There are signs about access being prohibited that have been placed by the construction company but this was the Easter weekend and plenty of people were using the Camino.

Enjoy it while you can.
In reply to tom.ireson:

Ok update for all those who want to know -

The cable from the first traverse was removed a few weeks ago (very long story as to why the person in question deemed that necessary) but all the rest of the cable was left in place.

Two days ago this was still the state of affairs, with access still possible, however yesterday a whole load of new signs appeared stating in both Spanish and English the the camino is now 'banned'. Some building materials have appeared on the camino itself and it certainly looks as if work is starting.

All that being said, there is still a big possibility that this whole thing is just an elaborate way of making a lot of money disappear (this has happened before here) and there are many signs that this could be the case. We can only wait and see.

Access to the Camino right now is definitely risky, there is a large possibility it will be patrolled and enforced. To clarify though, it is still physically possible to get on there, and the train tunnels are really no different to how they have ever been since they are owned by a different company and the Guardia do not go onto the train tracks for health and safety reasons. This is not to say it is allowed, but people are still using them all the time and no-one I have heard of has even been stopped by any form of official person.

Footnote to all of this - climbing in El Chorro is barely even affected by the development of the camino. A very small number of truly historic routes will be lost, at least in the short term, but there is such a huge rate of development of new routes here that the few that have been lost are far overshadowed by the many new routes on offer. I am in talks with various local people and authority figures about opening new walls all over the place, and all accessible without going through the camino.

Check out my website if you want to know more at elchorroboltfund.com and please feel free to contact me by email or find me at the Olive Branch if you want to know all the new routes. Bernabefernandez.com is also a great place to look as he is bolting many of the new multipitches and is also supported by our bolt fund.

Happy climbing!
rocky57 - on 24 Apr 2014
In reply to tom.ireson:

Thanks for the update Tom. I was just about to post something along the same lines, as I went up there this afternoon. I saw the signs in Spanish and English, just at the point where the path drops down towards the start, I tried to avoid my gaze and pretend not to see them, but the two construction workers standing beside them stopped me dead. They told me that it was closed and that they were knocking part of the walkway away, and that they had cut the wires as well. In the distance at the top of the ascent I could see a few workers disappearing around the corner with a lot of items/tools. I asked about access at the weekends, the workers said that if I went onto it then I'd be trespassing on a construction site, and as the police would be in the area then I'd get fined or worse. I turned around and left.

I can't see that they would have cut the wires that still exist around the corner from the 'S', as surely they would be highly useful for them to use.

If you, or anyone hears of anything, or anyone can add any useful info then I'd appreciate any updates.

RFS
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Another update: -

Today I went to the far end of the gorge (Ardales/Desplomilandia) and entered via the second gorge. What had previously been only accessible with a rope is now protected by a cable and in contrast to the El Chorro end there is only one fairly vague sign indicating that you should not go on.

Nothing at all has been changed in the second gorge so far and quite a few people have been entering this way. On walking to the first gorge there is a very large and clear sign stating that climbing is prohibited. Using my best skills of imperceptiveness, I ignored it and carried on into the first gorge.

Contrary to other reports, the cable in the main part of the gorge has not been cut and no sections have been taken out. Bolt hangers are still in routes and there was actually a couple climbing in El Recodo. However, there are many signs that work has begun, large sacks are dotted through the walkway filled with handrail bars and tiles removed from various places. Luminous green spray painted markers have appeared all the way through too.

From talking to workers, it seems that on the weekends while there is no-one working it may be possible to climb in there, though access from El Chorro is definitely still a big risk.

It certainly would seem that access to the second gorge from the Ardales end will be 'tolerated' at least for the near future. There are a huge number of classic routes there well worth going and enjoying while access is this good!

More updates as I find out more stuff.......
dereke12000 - on 04 May 2014
In reply to tom.ireson:

Just noticed this post on Clever Climb Adventures page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Climb-Adventures/119170494827575?fref=ts

'The renovation works for the "Caminito del Rey" have finaly started. Please be advised there is restricted Access.'

with 4 photos of the works
iamniccage - on 07 May 2014
In reply to tom.ireson:

I was there on Thursday 3rd May 2014. We tried to access through the front but were turned away. Instead headed over to the El Kiosko restaurant and Bar by the reservoirs and hiked down from there.

Just to reinforce what Tom Said pretty easy access, Only about 20 minute walk to the 2nd gorge and there is a via ferrata cable in situ and also an anchor to abseil in to the gorge as well. From there we hiked the second gorge and through to the gorge nearest El Chorro.

Didn't see any signs about the work until reached the first gorge. where there was some tape and sign. Walked all the way through to the front of the gorge past Africa Wall and all the cables were still in place. Didnt go all the way to the place they were working but could hear them, thought best to keep out of sight so they don't increase security and completely stop people going on it.

There were some people climbing in El Recodo and also Zeppelin.

I was with a couple of people who werent climbers so actually coming in from the back was probably a better idea as meant you were eased into the via ferrata.

Still good fun!

danielmoss - on 08 May 2014
In reply to tom.ireson:

Hi everyone, I will be there in June (btw, is it too hot to climb then?).

Will there be lots of climbs out of bounds at that point?


cheers,
Daniel
cmoxon on 08 May 2014
In reply to tom.ireson:

Tom,
How exactly do you enter via the 'second gorge'. Been to El Chorro several times but only ever got to Los Cotos etc via the camino or through the railway tunnel.
Is the railway tunnel still an option?
Chris
iamniccage - on 09 May 2014
In reply to cmoxon:

Hey Chris,

I entered by the second gorge - you have to drive out of el chorro up to the reservoirs and El Embalse de Gaitanejo. There is parking by the side of the road or at El Kiosko Bar/Restaurant. about 200m from the restaurant back up the road on the way to el chorro is a tunnel in the rock - (http://es.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/imgServer.do?id=864092 )

You have to hike through this and down to the dam for about 20 minutes. When you get to the dam you can see the back side of the second gorge. the path is then not in place connecting it to the dam.

To get in to it you have to climb slightly up from the path and scramble along and there are some abseil bolts and a via ferrata cable which you can use to lower down on to the camino in the second gorge.

From here to the front of the main gorge is about 1.5 hour hike.

You can get to los cotos easy enough using this route.

Because the workmen were there they were also stopping access to the railway tunnel when i tried to get through.
iamniccage - on 09 May 2014
In reply to danielmoss:

I was there last week and it was 25-30C and was too hot to climb in any sun facing crags during the day. so spent most of the time at Desplomilandia which is pretty much in shade the whole day.

Frontales crag was getting in the shade around 5.30pm every day so possible to climb there as well.

kp64zl - on 09 May 2014
In reply to iamniccage:

Can someone explain what is the purpose of the work and what it's hoping to achieve?
johncook - on 09 May 2014
In reply to kp64zl:

It allows Malaga to get a 3.2 million euro grant to repair the Caminito, and spent 2.1 million on it. The rest seems to just dissappear in their accounting system!
FactorXXX - on 09 May 2014
In reply to kp64zl:

Can someone explain what is the purpose of the work and what it's hoping to achieve?

To render the walkway safe for tourists and generate income?
danielmoss - on 11 May 2014
In reply to tom.ireson:

Thanks for information.

I am going to be in the area (i.e. malaga) from mid june for a few days. I take that there are enough good climbable crags around the area?

cheers,
Daniel

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