El Chorro Access - Open for Climbing!

The popular climbing spot of El Chorro, to the north of Malaga, has suffered in recent years from ambiguous access information with rumours about it being closed or having strict requirements for permits before you can climb. With a new Rockfax guidebook in the offing, we have been spending quite a lot of time there recently and can give a full update on access.

Oddly it has never really been closed, and the short-lived permit system came and went around 10 years ago. The truth is that there is now more climbing available at El Chorro than ever before.

The Caminito del Rey, 226 kb
The Caminito del Rey
© Mark Glaister

The main change to the area has been the construction of the Caminito del Rey - a spectacular pathway through the upper and lower gorges which has become extremely popular amongst locals and tourists alike with over 1000 people walking it on most popular days. It has brought a major boost to the area. The Caminito del Rey is based on the old Camino del Rey which was the original path that was built for the king to view the construction work carried out back in 1905. It had fallen into disrepair although climbers used it back in the 1990s to get to the routes.

The new walkway is fixed above the old one and is totally solid and safe, however it has removed access to most of the routes in the actual gorge. Some of the routes are still reachable from below, but it is generally discouraged since climbers active in the gorge become such an attraction for the walkers on the Caminito and there is so much climbing on offer elsewhere. This includes the routes on El Chorro - Lower Gorge and the route Zeppelin - you could climb them but you are better off looking elsewhere.

Outside the gorge though route development has been prolific with many new routes on existing sectors and full new walls being found. Places like El Corral East have some superb climbing and there are many more just like it.

Paul Cox climbing at El Corral East at El Chorro, 222 kb
Paul Cox climbing at El Corral East at El Chorro
© Alan James

The other factor that was off-putting about access in El Chorro was the fact that you often needed to walk through the railway tunnels in order to get to some of the crags in the central open area of the gorge (Los Cotos, El Polvorin, Makinodromo). This is still the case and, although signs suggest walking through the tunnels is not allowed, it is still done by most climbers with no repercussions. There is an alternative way of getting to the central gorge as well without going through the tunnels if you don't want to chance it. The tunnels thermselves are wide and there is no danger if you happen to be in one as a train passes.

The Caminto del Rey over the tunnels, 238 kb
The Caminto del Rey over the tunnels

El Chorro can definitely be considered a great venue for anyone in search of winter sun destinations. There are many more routes than in the 2008 Rockfax guidebook and the new one looks like it will be at least twice as thick. The area is booming from the new tourism interest, although this doesn't really affect any of the climbing except the parking in the village if you are looking for an aprés-climb beer.

Forums (49 comments)

i was also there earlier this year and tried this very trick, also with a good Spanish friend, we were absolutely refuted. Tried multiple times from both ends. Would certainly not count on this working. Personally...
Hi folk. I have scanned this epic thread and found no reference to the fact that you now cannot enter the Camino del Rey from the south. It is a one way system. Found this out the hard way today when a guard stopped...
I was there about 4 years ago and didn't climb in the gorge but met a group that had been fined by the Guradia Civil walking out through the tunnels at the end of the day. I suspect that every so often there is a clamp...
Well obviously you are entitled to your opinion although how an area can get to be a 'pale shadow of its former self', when it has three times as many routes on offer, in a variety of new venues, plus lots of extra...
Thanks Alan. Looks nice. I'm not arguing frontales isn't good, just to be clear, more that for example I've not done much at Margalef and so my comparison is of a fairly blank slate at Margalef versus the remaining...
Hardly the “same as”. However I also climbed at Desplomilandia, which I found very busy and super polished. I went to Villanueva de Cauche, which was a long drive but had some good climbing especially in the higher...

Read more

This has been read 6,632 times
Return to News from December 2017