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Daniel Jung: Visiting Chulilla—Spain’s New Climbing Hotspot

Monday, February 6, 2017
Black Diamond Global Athlete Daniel Jung had heard the rumors. An old climbing area in the Spanish town of Chulilla was home to a limestone canyon filled with five star routes. So when Jung finally took a vacation this winter, he headed straight to Chulilla to sample the goods.

It is always exciting to pack your bags for a trip. This time I was even more psyched. After working six days a week for almost seven months in our climbing gym, Schlüsselstelle, I was finally going on a climbing trip to Spain.

I had 12 days, which isn’t enough time to try a hard project, but it was a perfect opportunity to check out an area I haven’t been to before.

The last three years I heard a lot about Chulilla. It seemed that the old climbing area had now become the new hotspot in Spain. Friends described a little town surrounded by an amazing canyon landscape with limestone routes up to 60 meters. I really had to see it.

Sylwia Buczek and I landed in Valencia in the beginning of February. We were lucky that Jonathan Thesenga and Brittany Griffith gave us a lift from the Valencia airport to Chulilla. That was nice, since our original plan was to hitchhike.

Once you are in town you don’t need a car. With a bit of walking it’s easy to reach all sectors. In Chulilla you’ll find two little supermarkets and a bakery, and in case you want to stay in contact with the outside world, you can access Internet in the bar. So a car is not necessary.

We started climbing in Las Chorerras—aka the Mega Tufa Wall. This area quickly became my favorite sector of Chulilla. The whole wall is covered with big tufas. To climb on the amazing structures is very different, sometimes really tricky and always interesting.

In Chulilla you can find different kinds of climbing, mainly it’s slightly overhanging. Most routes are between 25 and 30 meters, but there are also some routes up to 60 meters. In the older sectors you will find more vertical, crimpy routes. In the younger sectors you can climb long endurance routes on tufas, Kalymnos style.

One line called La Montanga Magica inspired me and I was very motivated to try it. I onsighted the first part (8a+/5.13c), and the second part looked hard but amazing. Felix Neumärker, a German friend, did the first ascent just a few weeks before. Sadly the crux of the 8c+ (5.14c) part was humid and I had to try something else.

The sector El Balcon is a bit steeper. Here I tried Primer Asalto (8c/5.14b). It’s quite bouldery and very beautiful! I managed to send it and after I went to have a look at Siempre se Pueder Hacer Menos. I had read that Klemen Becan did the first ascent onsight, which is amazing! Over 50 meters of climbing! I tried to onsight it as well and climbed all the way to the middle of the last 8c+ section. Suddenly the “horn” I was resting on broke off and I fell. Klemen was lucky that he didn’t rest on that hold I guess. The crux is waiting for you in the last 8 meters. I spent some time figuring out how to do the crux move. Finally I found a way—a long cross move on a mono-undercling (only my pinky fit), which was very unique. The following power-endurance climbing on small crimps for the last 6 meters is an exciting challenge when you arrive from the ground.

I was very happy to send it in a few tries. It’s hard to grade it, but it seemed quite soft to me.

Rest days aren’t boring in Chulilla, since there is the beautiful town to visit. On the hill above the town is a ruin of an old castle that’s cool to see and from here you have a beautiful view into the canyon.

My favorite rest day activity, however, was collecting and eating the super tasty red cactus fruits (prickly pears) that were growing everywhere. Watch out for the spines of the cactus, especially while touching the red fruits. They have very nasty little spines!

Very motivated and with a lot of cactus fruit energy in my stomach, I hopped back on La Mountain Magica. The crux was dry finally and after an exciting endurance fight, I clipped the anchor. I think that was my favorite route in Chulilla—a long line, nice moves on perfect rock.

Sylwia and I had some good days. I was happy to bring home some nice souvenir routes as well as a prickly pear spine souvenir that stuck and grew in my lip at least for one month.

—Daniel Jung

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