Climbs 103
Rocktype Limestone
Altitude 242m a.s.l
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Mind the Gap - the Camino del Rey at El Chorro © Dan Arkle

Crag features

The massive defile of El Chorro's signature feature 'The Gorge' is one of Andalucia's most famous landmarks, made all the more significant by the Walkway (or Camino del Rey - King's Path); the narrow man-made walkway that clings to the walls of The Gorge. The Walkway was built in around 1905 to enable access and inspection to the workings in The Gorge and named after the visit of King Alfonso XIII in around 1921. Over the years the Walkway has fallen into disrepair and some sections have disappeared or been removed.

For climbers the Walkway has become one of the great attractions of El Chorro since it offers an atmospheric approach to many of the routes, and adds dizzying exposure to the climbing right from the first move. Despite these attractions, the climbing focus in El Chorro has moved away from The Gorge in recent years and many of the routes are becoming neglected although the best climbs still see ascents, especially in hot weather. The two big multi-pitch classics of Africa and Zeppelin remain as popular as they have ever been.

The climbs on Los Venenos and Santimonia get plenty of sun and can become unbearably hot but are pleasant first thing in the morning. El Recodo and the sectors deep within the walls of The Gorge are good spots to head for when it is hot offering shady climbing, often with a pleasant cooling breeze. This same cooling breeze can make these sectors unbearably cold at other times. Very occasionally the water levels in the river and the tunnels rise and prevent access to the Africa Wall also making the river crossing completely impossible. Climbing is possible in light rain on some of the faces, and in heavy rain on the steeper routes in El Recodo.

Approach notes

Follow the road uphill past the El Chorro Refugio and take the first left at a sharp bend. Follow the road past the entrance to the campsite and along the side of the lake until the road turns inland and a huge railway bridge comes in to view - park on the left. Walk up the higher track above the gated road (the gated road leads directly on from the parking) that climbs to a point that overlooks The Gorge entrance, Green Bridge and railway entrance tunnel (this is where the guards are usually positioned). From here, drop down to some tall railings and traverse left on the outside, above a culvert, to where they end. Then go down left of the bridge to a scree slope that leads to the start of the via ferrata. Using this approach avoids the need to cross any of the rail tracks or the Green Bridge). The Walkway can then be used to access all the sectors in The Gorge. It is also possible to pass through The Gorge, drop down and cross the river to access Los Cotos or El Polvorin.

Does anybody know the situation now that the Camino has been repaired and opened to the public? Is it still possible to climb in the gorge?
Kieran Duncan - 20/Aug/15
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