Travel Journal

A Royal Affair

(Sunday 28 April 2013) by Mariken
An update at last. Not that we have been moving around that much; we are still safely tucked away in El Chorro, where we have been climbing, weeding, walking, painting, repairing the car and enjoying all the other niceties of a simple cottage life in the south of Spain. B-)

First the important news, at least from our point of view: we are finally improving on our climbing skills, both having managed to climb a 6b+, aptly named Loved Grit. The international climbing community will probably not think much of it, but we are really delighted about this achievement, being the most difficult lead climb so far we both managed. In all honesty, Jacco managed to top this one about a week before I did, but then again, I had never even climbed a 6b+ indoors on toprope. A jewel to our crown, so to speak. At least for now, until we hopefully improve further.

Secondly, we trotted in King Alfonso's footsteps as we walked the Caminito del Rey, at last. Jacco found some bits of gardener hose to protect our precious aluminium karabiners and thus being properly armed we took off to defy heights and dangerous gaps.
Jacco trying to get over a major gap
Jacco trying to get over a major gap
It proved to be a bit of an anti-climax, in terms of danger, but the walk was stunningly beautiful. We were stubborn enough to continue after the first part of the walkway had ended, through the woods and on to the second part in the upper gorge. This proved to be the better part, both in terms of views and adventure, with more gaps and less steel cables attached to the rocks. It ended with a major gap though, which apparently you were not supposed to cross, as all bolts had been removed. That did not stop us though; we had brought our rope and climbing shoes and were able to bridge the final part, only to discover that the gate at the very end of the walkway was welded shut. Okay, you are really not supposed to cross that part then. Well, since we already made it that far, we thought it better to just scramble over the closed gate, then to bridge that major gap again. :-^
Gaps everywhere
Gaps everywhere
Because of all the equipment we carried we at least looked impressive enough to awe and put off a group of hikers who were debating about whether or not to scramble over the gate and do the walkway, but then in the opposite direction. The cool thing about doing the entire walk was that we ended up at the power reservoirs near Ardales, from which the views are stunning, the downside of it all was that we had to walk back to El Chorro, 8 km. Fortunately that road is not a busy road and it gave us the opportunity to admire the gorge once more, standing firmly on the ground.
Caminito del Rey in the upper gorge
Caminito del Rey in the upper gorge

After that, our beloved coach decided it was time for some care; changing gear became increasingly difficult and one day when we were driving up to the rocks, changing gear was no longer possible at all, only when the engine was shut down. I leave it up to you to imagine how it feels to be standing in the middle of a mountain road with your engine shut down in order to put the car in reverse, to start it again, turn a bit, shut it down again to put it in first gear, start it again, complete the turn and hobble off the mountain, still in first gear. 8-O Back home we discovered that the cap that sealed off the reservoir that held the hydraulic fluid for the clutch was split, having caused all the hydraulic fluid to leak away. It proved not to be too difficult to repair, however, we had to get a new cap and fluid from a mechanic in Alora, the nearest town, about 12 km away. Not the easiest thing to do, when you can not change gear in your car. And driving down 12 km to Alora in first gear... fortunately Dell and Susan came to our rescue, providing us both with a car and some linguistic aid and everything is fixed up again.

So, how about the future? No immediate plans to leave El Chorro, as life is still good here. We have spotted a nice 6c+, which we both already tried toprope (courtesy of Patrick and Heidi, a Swedish couple that helped Susan and Dell last year and the year before), which might become our next project. And the clutch still needs some tweaking. And we were thinking of visiting Malaga. And Ronda. And well, plenty to do, still. We'll keep you posted!

  • un abrazo de mamá by mama
  • More than an affair? by Bibiche
    • Going up north by Mariken
  • slechts 3,5 week later.. by Marije

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