Altitude 1071m a.s.l
Neil Binns Tinto con Limon (F7a+) at El Torcal, Andalusia. © chris s
The small National Park of El Torcal forms the summit and slopes of a large limestone peak, around 10km to the south of the town of Antequera. It sits at an elevation of 1300m and the summit area of the peak is a broad plateau that has been heavily eroded to form some fantastic limestone 'karst' scenery - a geological curiosity. The karst formations present an amazing climbers' playground, set amidst a myriad of spectacular pinnacles and spires. The shallow grassy valleys and hollows between the pinnacles are lovely spots for picnics and sunbathing, making El Torcal a very pleasant place to visit. A good deal of the plateau has been climbed on over the years, but a ban on some of the areas has been imposed. Much of the climbing is highly technical and, although often less than 15m in height, the pitches are sustained and in magnificent surroundings.
The altitude can make it chilly at times and during the winter El Torcal is probably worth avoiding if it is at all windy or cloudy. However, on a still winter's day, once the sun has warmed the place up, it can take on a magical atmosphere. The altitude makes El Torcal worth considering in order to escape extreme heat, although much of the climbing described does get the full sun. There is nothing here should it be raining. It is worth noting that on popular weekends and holidays, the road that climbs to the visitor centre is often shut at the park entrance once the carparks are full, so arrive early or be prepared for a fairly long walk.
From El Chorro, take the road up the hill past Las Encantadas, and on to the town of Valle de Abdalajis. Go through the town and turn left onto the main Antequera road. Continue for 20km towards Antequera. Just before Antequera is reached, turn right (signed 'El Torcal de Antequera') and follow the road up and around the side of the mountain, for about 10km, to the park entrance. Drive into the park and follow the road up the hill. La Carretera is above the road and the parking for El Fraile a little further on. The main parking by the visitor centre is used for La Bodega. This drive takes about 1 hour from El Chorro.
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