Enjoy the beautiful scenery from the Enchandates sport climbing crag with awesome winter season opportunities in the rock climbing paradise of El Chorro, Spain.
El Chorro is a very small village situated 70 km northwest from Malaga, Spain. The village is easy to get to from Malaga, which would be the choice of airport for most climbers. The easiest route to follow is the A-357 from Malaga towards Campillos by car. El Chorro features sport climbing crags with routes from grade 3 to grade 8c+, and a few nice longer multi-pitch routes. You will find everything, and whether you are a novice or a sport climbing guru, El Chorro is an obvious choice if you would like to do sport climbing during the winter season.
Speaking of seasons you should plan visiting El Chorro from September till May. I visited El Chorro in March 2017 with my girlfriend for a short sport climbing getaway and temperatures varied between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius mid-day. No clouds! Practising hard climbs in this climate definitely takes it toll.
El Chorro does not feature much multi-pitch and practically no traditional climbing, so if that’s what you are looking for El Chorro is probably not where you should go. There are however several solid multi-pitches inside the El Chorro gorge in higher grades, but the main attraction in El Chorro for most climbers is the single-pitch crags. There are a small selection of guide books available, but there are all outdated. I brought the Rockfax guidebook to El Chorro, which latest edition is from 2008. We found several routes not mentioned in the book, which is a bit confusing, when trying to identify a specific route.
The ‘Enchandates’ sport climbing crag
The ‘Enchandates’ – which translates into ‘Enchanted’ – is a crag located just west of the El Chorro village. If you come from El Chorro follow the road leading out of the village from the train station and the Hotel Gaganta towards Valle de Abdalajís. You should follow the track uphill until a sharp right bend with a cross section, where two dirt tracks goes left. You can see the ‘Enchandates’ in front of you and a few dirt trails leads to the crag. If you are in car you can turn left on the second dirt track that leads uphill and you will find a small parking lot just next to the crag.
The crag has two main sectors featuring pretty hard climbs. There were people climbing a minor third sector, but that is not mentioned in the Rockfax guidebook. This sector is located 100 meters to the right of the main sectors. The ‘Enchandates’ is a tough crag with high grade sport climbing routes. There is one grade 4, one grade 5, a few grade 6a and 6b’s, and the rest is grade 6c and up! We spent most time in the far-left corner of the crag, where all the lower grades are placed. These are typically between 10 and 20 meters, where the higher grades are all above 20 meters.
While you are at it, why not check out the video we shot from El Chorro above.
The ‘Enchandates’ is pretty exposed to sun and there are only a few trees, where you can retreat from the sun. Beware of this if you plan going here. It will become really warm. We did not stay at the ‘Enchandates’ for a whole day, but only climbed here during the morning or late afternoon. We lived on a B&B just next the crag, so we paid the ‘Enchandates’ a visit several times during our stay in El Chorro. Especially in the afternoon though, this is perfect. Being exposed and residing on a hill, the crag is bathed in the afternoon sun. You can easily climb here until the evening.
Just before we start by name dropping routes, I would like to refer to the Rockfax guidebook to El Chorro from which the routes mentioned below originate. This is actually a quite old book from 2008 and needs a few revisions. New routes have been put up on several of the crags we visited on our stay in El Chorro that were missing in the guidebook. Generally though, I would reckon this is the best book on the market on sport rock climbing in El Chorro.
We started on ‘Geisha’ (6a), a line that follows a deep crack running up the rock face. There are actually two routes running here, an easier variation ‘Atena’ (4+), runs left of ‘Geisha’ (6a), but the two routes join about halfway up. The difficulty is not that sustained and the hardest part is definitely at the start. The nature of the route forces you to practice a lot of side pulling. Despite the changing difficulty ‘Geisha’ (6a) is really fun.
We also climbed the ‘Crisis de identidad’ (6a+) and ‘Poul, pour, ram, ram’ (6a). The latter is sustained in difficulty with loads of three and four finger pockets, but there are pretty long between good handholds making it a challenge for people with lesser reach. Besides this, belaying is a bit awkward. The route starts just on the other side of a bush meaning that the belayer cannot stand close to the wall.
Finally we did the ‘Bohem destrell’ (6a+). This has a really tricky start and the crux is near the third bolt. There is a horisontal crack that makes an excellent left hand, but with no obvious feet you need to smear the wall to get even close enough to reach. The crack is good, but you have to go for it with all you have to make the reach. Good fun, but also challenging. Speaking of bolts, El Chorro is pretty well bolted. There are about a meter between bolts and generally they seem in really good condition. Anchors are traditional dual-point anchors connected by a steel chain with an o-ring, where you can built your anchor for toproping.
The ‘Enchandates’ is a really nice crag. It has high grade routes, so if you are a beginner there are not that much to climb here. Are you more intermediate, there are plenty of exciting and challenging routes to climb. Just remember that the crag is super exposed to sun, so you will probably not spend a complete day here.
What is your experience with the ‘Enchandates’? Leave a comment below.