Week two – El Chorro

Week two has been a lot less difficult than the first, we’ve worked out how most things work here now. In our first few days we went to the local “supermarket”, which obviously has a very different meaning in Spanish because it was just a room in a ladies house, probably not much bigger than the van. After struggling awkwardly to ask for what we needed, she worked out the cost on a piece of paper, and we’d somehow managed to spend 16 euros, on crisps, bread, 4 apples, eggs and hot dog sausages. On the way back to the van we decided we’d be coming home in a few weeks if we kept shopping there, so we decided to try and find something a little more substantial, and cheaper further a field. A few days later and with a little googling we managed to find the closest actual supermarket to us, it was a Lidl. It was about 30 miles away, so we decided to try and get two weeks worth of food, so that we got good value from the trip. We’re about 10 days into the food, and it seems like we’ll easily make 2 weeks without much trouble. We spent about 80 euros, in total which isn’t too bad. It’s under our budget for food per week so that’s something. We decided to try and make the first weeks worth of food mostly fresh stuff, and then for the second week live off longer life stuff, that way we were less likely to waste anything. It would appear that the plan is working so far.


We had our first calls home shortly after our first post too, during which my parents asked how we were managing with the bugs, for anyone who doesn’t know, I get bitten, a lot, no matter where in the world I am. At this point in time we’d not really seen any “biters”, plenty of bees, wasps, ants and butterflies, but nothing that was going to cause us any itchy lumps and bumps. It was a mistake to admit we’d not had any problems with them out loud. The morning after that call I must have had about 8-10 bites, they’d managed to get me all over the place. Every night from this point on has a set of anti-bug rules, no leaving doors open, while doors are open all lights need to be off, and if we spot anything in the van other than us, it has to be dealt with before we go to sleep. These rules seem to be keeping us safe for the most part, Beth’s bite count has managed to catch up to mine nearly, we’re still trying to work out how that’s happening.


While we’re on the subject of local wildlife we’ve managed to see a few interesting bits and pieces in the times we’ve been here. Huge birds that we’re thinking are Vultures, a few small lizards, but the most impressive has to be the heard of wild goats we saw yesterday. There must have been around 40-50 in total. They were all moving down the hillside beneath one of the crags we’ve visited a few times. A smaller group of them settled under some trees on the path up to the crag, so we got as close as we felt was sensible, and got some photos, unfortunately Beth’s camera doesn’t have much of a zoom to speak of, but we did what we could.

The weathers been a bit cooler the last few days, around 18 degrees, so we’ve been able to get a lot more climbing done than we had in the first week. It’s still been mostly sunshine, there’s been a little rain in the evenings sometimes, but there hasn’t been a day yet where it’s been too wet to climb. We’ve tried out most of the easily accessible crags, although there are a number that you access via a gorge which we’ve not been able to get to as the gorge is much more of a tourist attraction than when the guide book was written, and now, we learnt after venturing the wrong way up that it’s one way, the opposite way to the way the guide suggests going, so we’ll just have to leave those for another time. For the most part we’ve been doing lots of lower grade routes, we’ve been finding the rock a little difficult to read, which is making the routes a little more difficult than they should be, and the routes are so much longer than we are used to, so we’re still adjusting to that too. Having said that we’re both getting better with every route we do so hopefully we’ll be trying some more difficult stuff soon.


Climbing wise we’ve actually been to start doing a bit more which has been good. The weathers been more what we were expecting, cool mornings and warm afternoons, in the sun it’s still in the high teens, but with a bit of a breeze it’s easy to get a full days climbing in. We’ve travelled around a bit, heading to a few easier crags outside of El Chorro where Beth been getting back on the sharp end of the rope, which has been great to see. I’ve also been trying to climb some harder stuff, with varying levels of success, I’ve managed to tick off a good handful of fr6a/6a+ routes, most of which have been on-sight, with the exception of Luna fr6a+, which I completely wimped out of the last move first time, as I was pumped out of my mind by the time I’d worked out what to do. We went back today I finished it, which I was pleased about.

I also tried a steep fr6b, which the guidebook stated as 17m long and “high in the grade”, which I was thinking wouldn’t be too much of a problem because it was shorter than a lot of the routes I’d done here so far. Boy was I wrong. Having said that, so was the guidebook. If that route is 17 meters, I’m a monkeys uncle. The line follows an overhanging curved arete, and for the first 10-15 meters I thought it was going to go first try. I got to what I thought would probably be one of the last bolts before the lower-off, which you can’t see from the ground, only to discover there was at least another 4 to go. At this point the pump really set in, the next few moves were by far the hardest, so I rested on the rope, and after trying to find a sequence that I could do in my now super-pumped state, I eventually had to admit defeat. I was fairly certain of the moves, but by the time I’d worked them out I had nothing left. From here on a 30-40 minute battle with a clip stick, quick draws and rope ensued. I hadn’t brought the clip stick up with me, so I had to come down the route, get it and come back up, which is difficult when the ropes high point it about 5-6 meters left of the start of the route, and directly below that is even steeper ground with basically nothing to pull on. Long story short we eventually got to the top and got everything out, safe and sound, by I was completely wrecked by this point and Beth’s neck was a little worse for wear after having looked up for nearly an hour by the end. Since then we’ve done a lot more climbing, and are starting to get to grips with things here, everything starting to feel more like it’s supposed to, so we’re hoping to start pulling onto some harder routes over the next few weeks. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on any major sending developments.

Our rest days have been spent mostly washing our clothes and ourselves, we decided to try out drying out clothes in the van so I laced cord around the van and created an indoor washing line, it worked really well until we had to move in or out of the van, then getting food out of the cupboards became very tricky.

We ventured down to the Bobastro ruins on one of the cooler afternoons. We saw the remains of a church dated back to 880 ad which was pretty cool, and  we now know to take money to these things as we naively thought it would be free.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sharon says:

    Great account of your journey so far 😊 Fabulous pictures too, only wish I understood the climbing jargon! Sounds like you’re enjoying the challenge and adventure though, love to you both, stay safe xxxx


    1. Jon Thorne says:

      Haha yeah sorry about that. I’m trying to keep the lingo to a minimum 😊


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