Adventure Diaries: Chulilla
We turned the corner to look down into the gorge where our path lead. Steep steps were cut into the rock, winding their way down the cliff side. The wire bridge they led to was suspended 30m above the river below with the shallow Turia river flowing gently over pebbles, its sedentary nature accentuated by the long, drifting reeds.
Further down, after crossing more wire bridges along the gorge, we found what we’d come for. The soaring limestone walls either side of the gorge were those of any climber’s daydreams with ancient rock formations punctuating the cliff faces. Enough rock to entertain a climber for a lifetime…
You’d be forgiven for not having heard of Chulilla. Tiny and off the beaten track in rural Spain, not much happens there. After dropping our bags in our Air BnB we explored the town, underestimating how quickly we could become lost amongst the narrow alleyways and steep steps. It’s beautiful, but it wasn’t just a picturesque getaway we had come for.
The village, with its ancient castle ruins, looks out over a steep gorge. That is where all the action happens. Climbers from across the globe congregate here to scale these walls time after time. Each climb takes a line up the cliff following prominent features on the wall. The rock in Chulilla is a delight to climb with its big cracks, grooves and beautifully clean, just off vertical faces. We got stuck right in, climbing until sunset, walking home at dusk, eating dinner in the dark.
On any climbing trip there comes the point where your hands just can’t hold on anymore. On those days, we left the ropes at home to explore the area by foot. With the sun beating down on us, we went to cool off in the freezing cold reservoir. After a few laps, our extremities were numb and we experienced a sensation somewhere between great pain and intense exhilaration. There’s nothing like warming up and drying off in the sun after a cold dip.
Another day we hiked as far up the gorge as the river would let us, leading us to the Charco Azul, a deep plunge pool in the narrowest and highest part of the gorge. The bright, turquoise water a result of minerals in the limestone. Here we found an old walkway only barely hanging on to the rock. I feel we were lucky getting away without taking a dip, especially with our camera…
Climbing has taken us to many incredible locations, but Chulilla has topped them all. There’s something so magical about the place, it’s like stepping into a fantasy world painted in beautiful detail. With a return visit to this vertical paradise already in our minds, we reluctantly made our way back to Barcelona for our flight home to and back to reality.