Climbs 156
Rocktype Limestone
Altitude 567m a.s.l
Faces S

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Paul Phillips climbing Arabesque (7a) on Escalera Arabe © Mike Hutton

Crag features

Set high up above the treeline and commanding a beautiful view, the Escalera Arabe is one of El Chorro's most inspiring and popular locations. The quality of the climbing matches the view - the majority of the routes are single-pitch wall climbs on brilliant rock. The best climbs are in the lower to mid-grade range and there are plenty of them, although there are also a number of good harder pitches dotted across the various sectors. There is occasional stone fall from the large areas of broken crags above the climbs and a helmet is advised. The area is named after the Mozarabic stairway built pre-1500, which cuts leftwards under several of the sectors and is still in an amazing condition in places. It attract other visitors which can make the Upper Crag, Arabesque and Steps Buttress busy with people.

Virtually all the climbing at Escalera Arabe is exposed to the sun and the rain. The exception is sector Sombra, which is high up on the back side of the ridge and offers hard climbing in the shade. Elsewhere there is a little bit of shade to be found at some spots along the base of the cliff, but most of the climbing is in the sun for much of the day. Being a bit higher than the lower Frontales crags, the area is a little more exposed to the wind. This is not a good place to head for if the weather is hot, windy or wet, although the crags do dry extremely quickly after rainfall and there is little seepage.

Approach notes

There are two approaches to the Escalera Arabe crags. They are both about as long as each other. The upper approach is a longer drive but has less uphill walking.

Lower Approach - Follow the road through El Chorro village, past the station, and up the hill towards Valle de Abdalajis. As the road levels out, and just before Las Encantadas, there is a ruined building and water tank (1.2km from the station bar). There is limited parking by the water tank. Walk down the upper of two dirt tracks on the left. Ignore a drive on the right and a track branching left and continue up the track, past a couple of zig-zags to a cairn on the left near pylons. There is a short cut path through the woods that avoids the zig-zags. A steep path leads up scree to the base of the cliff directly under sector Sergio.

Upper Approach - Follow the road towards Valle de Abdalajis for 3km from the station in El Chorro and take a steep track on the left (by a large stone with a letterbox in it). Follow this track for 1.7km (passing the Rocabella parking) and turn left to gain a parking area and noticeboard. Continue on foot along the track for 250m and turn left, then left again after a further 100m. (Serena is approached from here - by turning right up the track). Continue down the track, keeping right at a fork (next to a large noticeboard) after 150m, and follow it for around 500m until a signpost for Escalera Arabe on the right (at a bend). This path runs under all of the Escalera Arabe sectors.

Restricted Access

The area is a nature reserve and access to the crags on Frontales and Escalera Arabe is sensitive. You may see people driving up the track from the water tank, but it is not allowed and you could well be fined. It only adds around 15 minutes to the walk in. The whole El Navegador sector remains banned to climbing due to rare flora with the exception of the lefthand-most route. There are 2 signposts in front of the cliff and a wire fence to mark the restricted area but these have been pulled down by climbers. 

Was here on the 7th october 2013 and there is a very obvious fence around the routes in sector suiza from routes 22 to 26 on page 93 of the rockfax guide. My spanish is not great but the notices on the fence suggest it is closed for the protection of the local flora and fauna.
SGD - 16/Oct/13
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