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.
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.
Here's UKC's very own Rob Greenwood's take on some of his favourite routes:
- 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 (L1) 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?!"
- 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..."
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.
Seasoned veteran Mark Glaister's pick of the best in the lower grades in a spread of areas:
- Cequera Temporal 6b+ - "Well positioned face on left edge of sector."
Sector La Peneta:
- Annie Hall (L1) 6b - "Two pitch sport line of wall and cracks below ruins of castle."
- Amor Loco P2 6b+ - "Another two pitcher with a fine top half."
- El fantasma de la opera 7a - "Wall of black, fingery flowstone."
- Caravana de Mujeras (L1 + L2) 5c - "Good little two pitch line on the left of the sector."
- La Daniel 6a+ - "Long sustained wall."
- Hector 6a+ - "A stiff pull or more right and back left low down."
- Verano del 97 6a - "Great but a bit run out!"
- Techno Polvo 6b+ - "Superb thin wall and overlap."
Pesadilla de un borracho (L1 + L2) 5c, 6a+ - "A lovely and technical two-pitch route."
UKC PHOTO GALLERY: Chulilla, Spain
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 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.