Bouldering in Albarracin

I’m sitting in the car, parked right on the sand of Alicante’s beach, the radio is playing “Sweet dreams are made of these …. travelled the world and the seven seas”, and I’m looking out over the long stretches of beach – where the fisherman are catching their dinner. The time has come to write about our recent trip to Albarracin (march 2017).

 

I can’t believe that we’ve left it so long before finally heading over to this amazing bouldering area. It is basically on our doorstep – only a 3 hour drive from the Costa Blanca. For those not lucky enough to be living in the Costa Blanca, Albarracin is only a 2 hour drive from Valencia or a 3 hour drive from Madrid.

 

Well, as they say: better late than never.

Although I am Dutch and therefore usually quite modest in my adjectives when describing a place or experience, I become totally American when describing the bouldering mecca of Albarracin: because Oh My God, this place is Absolutely Totally Awesome! It is such a lovely area, a rustic medieval town surrounded by rolling hills in ‘earthy’ shades of green and orange, a beautiful pine forest, with a great atmosphere, a relaxed and friendly vibe amongst all boulderers there. On top of that, the quality of the rock is superb, and the routes are very diverse, across all the grades.

Beware of people jumping out of bins

Beware of people jumping out of bins

If you haven’t been to Albarracin yet – most of us haven’t, as it is still relatively unknown (and therefore quiet and not polished!) – you should really plan a trip there as soon as you can! Boulderers for sure should do so, that goes without saying. But I’d also recommend all rope-climbers who are not keen on the idea of jumping off and falling onto bouldering mats to plan a trip to Albarracin.

I am one of those climbers myself; I find it hard to commit to a move having to trust on my spotters to help me land safely onto the crashpads. Yet Albarracin has been great. It has so much to offer. There are a ton of easy boulder problems, so if you want, you can boulder well within your grade. And the good thing about those easy boulder problems is that they are interesting problems – not just ‘children boulders’. (It might be useful as a reference to know that I’m a 7a climber, and had a great time bouldering loads of 3s, 4s, 5s and 6a’s).

Also, a lot of boulder problems do not require you to ‘top out’ by mantelshelfing yourself (Aaah! Scary!) on top of the boulder, which leaves you on top of it, excited that you made it but thinking “How the hell do I get off here now?”. In Albarracin, there are a lot of boulder problems that finish on jugs from where you simply jump off onto the mat in a controlled manner; your spotter can even hold you by the hips as you do so. This makes bouldering in Albarracin completely stress-free and super fun!

A lot of boulder problems in Albarracin finish on big jugs that you jump off of - rather than topping out

A lot of boulder problems in Albarracin finish on big jugs that you jump off of - rather than topping out

For those typical rope-climbers who still aren’t convinced; another major advantage of going on a bouldering trip is that you can try the problem as often as you like, and you can try something as hard as you like, because there’s no commitment at all. When you’re done, or when the crux move is too high off the ground to your liking, or when the problem is too hard for you, you can just walk away. You don’t need to get your draws back!

 

Unfinished business: El Chorro in Sector La Fuente, Albarracin

Unfinished business: El Chorro in Sector La Fuente, Albarracin

We spent 2,5 days in Albarracin. The first day we climbed in Sector Fuente: rough orange rock with big jugs and pockets. There’s several traverses (although not in the guidebook – but great for warm up or for those who don’t like going too high), there are some low boulders to get on top of (and come down off easily), and some higher boulders with finishing jugs to jump off of.

The second day we started with some unfinished business in Fuente (Boulder problem “El Chorro”) and then went to Sector Techos (roofs). As suggested by the name, this area has very steep boulder problems, but there are also several easier options around. A good sector to go to when it’s raining/snowing, because the boulders provide shelter.

I am doing a 6a problem at Sector Techos, while Chris Newton-Goverd (Rock & Sun's Bouldering Coach) is spotting me

I am doing a 6a problem at Sector Techos, while Chris Newton-Goverd (Rock & Sun's Bouldering Coach) is spotting me

The final half day we spent at Sector Cabrerizo because it is close to one of the parking areas and has a great variety of easy problems that can be done in several ways and therefore remain interesting; for us this was a good warm-down.

One of the easy boulders at Cabrerizo, Albarracin

One of the easy boulders at Cabrerizo, Albarracin

Now I’ve spent some time in both Albarracin and the forest of Fontainebleau, I can conclude that for me, Albarracin is number 1! I find that there are more boulders of the easier grades than in Font. That the easier boulder problems are more interesting than those in Font. That there are more problems that don’t require getting on top of the boulder. Plus, Albarracin is much smaller than Font, more condensed, so it involves less driving around, and it feels like there’s more of a bouldering community and atmosphere in town. To be clear, I do not dislike Font at all: I’d give Font an 8 out of 10 and Albarracin a 10!

 

How to book

Our experienced guides know Albarracin like the back of their hand. They will choose the right sectors and boulder problems for you and will help you improve your bouldering technique and push your grade! A guided bouldering trip with Rock & Sun includes coaching, accommodation and airport transfers. Check our dates on

www.rockandsun.com/climbing-locations/spain/albarracin-bouldering/

If the dates on the website don’t suit your time off, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with lesley.rockandsun@gmail.com and we will check the availability of our instructors for your dates.

 

When to go bouldering in Albarracin

Albarracin has the great advantage of offering year-round bouldering. At 900m above sea level, the air is cooler than other much warmer, lower climbing regions in Spain. Winters in Albarracin can be cold – especially at night. The boulders can be covered in snow, but there are several sectors (such as Techos) where you can boulder regardless of snow or rain. The friction is good in cold temperatures. The summer can be hot, despite the fact that Albarracin is usually a few degrees colder than the surrounding areas. Because the pine forest provides shade, it is possible to have a really good bouldering week in summer. The best time to go bouldering is from September to May.

 

How to get to Albarracin

Fly into Valencia, hire a car and drive 2 hours to Albarracin.

Alternative: Fly into Madrid, hire a car and drive just over 3 hours to Albarracin.

When booking a bouldering trip with Rock & Sun, fly into Valencia Airport, from where you will be picked up by your instructor and driven to Albarracin (airport transfers are included).

 

What to bring

Two bouldering mats (if you book your bouldering trip with Rock & Sun bouldering mats are included)

Chalk

Two pairs of climbing shoes

Approach shoes

Warm layers

 

Where to stay

There are plenty of studios, apartments and hotels in Albarracin.

If you book a bouldering weekend with Rock & Sun, you will be based in a self-catering apartment, based on sharing twin room (same gender).

 

If you travel to Albarracin with a (camper)van: there is a parking lot in between Albarracin-town and the bouldering areas of Albarracin which is a very nice and convenient spot for overnight parking

https://goo.gl/TKKeoy

Desiree Verbeek

04/05/2017


 

 

 

 

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