Chulilla

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I just got back from a week in Chulilla where I enjoyed great company, perfect climbing conditions and a welcome break from work and everyday life. We stayed at the refugio owned by Pedro Pons and his wife, which is perched on the edge of the gorge just on the outskirts of the village. Not only was this one of the nicest climbing refugios I’ve ever been to, set in a stunning location with comfy rooms and good Wi-Fi, but it was amazing to meet and chat with the Spanish climbing legend himself. Pedro is a great inspiration to me having dominated both on rock and in competition, and I was made up to finally meet him in person.

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Onsighting is one of my favourite forms of climbing, and Chulilla is brilliant for this. There are so many routes to go at in the 6s and 7s that when you clip the chains or fall you can just pull the rope and move on to the next one. I did so many brilliant routes during the week it would be hard to mention them all, but the standout has to be a 7c I did on the last day.

Tufa climbs are all about weird body positions and trusting your feet on smeary holds, and these two things usually make me panic. Pedro suggested a 55m long tufa 7c to me and I was doubtful at first, but then the line looked so amazing I thought I might regret not having a go.

It was the most epic, intense experience I have ever had on a sport route. The route takes a line up two almost vertical, smooth, featureless tufa pipes to a chain 55m up in the sky.  I was never pumped, but my body was so tired from pushing and bridging that it felt like mental torture the whole way up. Most of the time I just wanted it to be over so the pain would stop, and yet I didn’t want it to end at the same time. It was like a weird puzzle of odd, off-balance moves that no amount of training could prepare you for.

It took me an hour and a half to figure out a way to the chains, and I am really grateful to Karl for belaying and Keith for hanging around at a cold crag all that time. It was a brilliant route, and one of the most amazing pieces of rock I have ever climbed. I never would have got on it without the recommendation so thanks Pedro! It definitely made my trip.

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I was really sad to come home after such a great week clipping bolts, soaking up the sun and speaking Spanish. Chulilla is a beautiful place and I’d definitely recommend it (and the Altico refugio) to anyone looking for somewhere new to go.

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