El Chorro Camino del Rey to Close

Tom Ireson has posted the following information on a UKClimbing thread:

For anyone who knows and loves El Chorro, here is the most up to date information I have on the subject of the Camino’s refurbishment work.
Currently, the Camino is still open as usual. Work has started, mostly surveying and training, but access will be as normal until the end of the month.

In April (no date confirmed as yet) the walkway will be closed to everyone. I know they have talked about doing it for years but this is actually it.

The local climbing association, in conjunction with the El Chorro Bolt Fund is working hard to maintain access to the important climbs, and as it stands access to all routes starting at the base of the gorge will be kept open (Africa, Zeppelin, the base of El Recodo and a whole load of less well known multipitches).

We are looking at ways to create new access to these routes and hopefully negotiate something for some of the classic routes that start on the walkway, and it is all possible, but nothing is decided as yet.

Access to Makinodromo, Los Cotos and El Polvorin will not be affected any time soon as the train company are not involved in the development, but I will keep a close eye on it.

It is a sad loss for El Chorro, the walkway is steeped in climbing heritage and also a rite of passage for so many over the years, but it will be open again to walk through once the refurbishment is finished, and we are working hard to make sure as much of the historical climbing is kept open to climbers.

If you have fond memories of the place and want to get that last trip through the gorge in, now is the time. But also everyone should know there are new routes, including multipitches, being bolted every year in El Chorro and all of these are open to everyone. The vast majority of the climbing here is well away from the gorge.

I will endaevour to keep posting updates if I find out anything useful!

And then a follow up post:

The cable from the first traverse was removed a few weeks ago (very long story as to why the person in question deemed that necessary) but all the rest of the cable was left in place.

Two days ago this was still the state of affairs, with access still possible, however yesterday a whole load of new signs appeared stating in both Spanish and English the the camino is now ‘banned’. Some building materials have appeared on the camino itself and it certainly looks as if work is starting.

All that being said, there is still a big possibility that this whole thing is just an elaborate way of making a lot of money disappear (this has happened before here) and there are many signs that this could be the case. We can only wait and see.

Access to the Camino right now is definitely risky, there is a large possibility it will be patrolled and enforced. To clarify though, it is still physically possible to get on there, and the train tunnels are really no different to how they have ever been since they are owned by a different company and the Guardia do not go onto the train tracks for health and safety reasons. This is not to say it is allowed, but people are still using them all the time and no-one I have heard of has even been stopped by any form of official person.

Footnote to all of this – climbing in El Chorro is barely even affected by the development of the camino. A very small number of truly historic routes will be lost, at least in the short term, but there is such a huge rate of development of new routes here that the few that have been lost are far overshadowed by the many new routes on offer. I am in talks with various local people and authority figures about opening new walls all over the place, and all accessible without going through the camino.



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