Saturday, 16 November 2013


(If you meet anyone called Nacho, make sure you give them a High-5!)


How do you describe Rodellar? Can the words ‘steep’ and ‘pumpy’ do it any justice? You picture a 30 metre overhanging limestone crag and you’ve got the right idea?


Definitely not!


Rodellar is actually the name of the village that perches above a narrow valley in the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees. The valley that stretches north is about a kilometre long, with steep sides and a river that gently winds along the floor.


Rodellar at night.


On the west/left side of the valley lies some of the steepest, wildest routes you’ll ever climb. The gradient ranges from just off vertical, right through to completely horizontal 20 metre roofs. It’s mind-blowingly steep. A couple of crags overhang by a consistent angle of around 25 degrees; some are even kind enough to add a 5 metre roof on top! Did I mention that it’s steep?!


The rock is generally solid, or will be when they reinforce everything with a bit of sika, the special cement you’ll see on some of the holds. It’s not the British ethic, but that’s fine because you’re in Spain!


The village has a few basic amenities, such as two campsites (expensive), a hotel and, best of all, a climber’s refuge/bar/restaurant called Kalandraka. This is the place to stay, eat, drink and hang out. Free wifi and pool table too, plus awesome views and the quickest crag access. I can’t recommend it enough. Oh, and the King-size Lasagne is not to be missed!


Lost in a sea of jugs on Made in Mascun (7c)


There are a couple of small village shops which sell basic foodstuffs, at slightly inflated prices (understandable, considering you’re 30km into the hills). It’s best to buy food in the towns of Barbastro or Huesca on your way through (45 mins and 60 mins away, respectively). 


Ideally, fly in to Reus/Barcelona at lunch time, hire a car and drive to Rodellar that afternoon, doing a big food shop on your way through Barbastro.


Make sure you stay for at least a week, preferably three! You’ll want to spend some time getting used to the steepness and length of the routes before finding your form.



The best time to climb here is autumn - September and October. You can climb in spring, but you run the risk of the tufas seeping and more changeable weather. Summer is perfectly possible, but you’ve got to climb in the shade, late into the evenings. Winter is too cold and wet.



Get yourself a 70 m rope and 20 draws and you’ll be good to go! The guidebook is best bought at Kalandraka for 25 Euros, much cheaper than I’ve seen it in the UK.


Recommended Routes


The ‘ard stuff

Sayonara Baby (7b+) at Surgencia

Pince Sans Rire & Maria (7b) at Pince Sans Rire

Gracias Fina (8a) at Pince Sans Rire

Coliseum (8a) at Gran Boveda

Sopa de Ajo (7b) at Gran Boveda

L’any que ve tambe (7c) at Gran Boveda

Made in Mascun (7c) at El Delfin

Cañita Brava (7b/+) at El Delfin

El Delfin (7c) at El Delfin (if only for the photos!)

A Crabita (8a) at Las Ventanas

Tierra y Libertab (7b) at Gran Boveda

Kings of Metal (7c) at Las Ventanas


The nice stuff

Objectivo M (6b+) at Nuit de Temps

Billy el Rapido (7a) at El Camino (the softest 7a in the world!)

‘Unknown 6a/b’ left of El Delfin at El Delfin

L’ombra de la barca (6b+) at Aquest any sí

Ciao Bombino (6b) at Pince Sans Rire



Rest Day beta

We had two days on, one day off, which worked well for skin and arms.


Follow the river at the bottom of the valley downstream, past Cafe Solo and Laperne crags. You’ll have to do some bushwacking and cross the stream several times, but 500m past Cafe Solo the valley tightens and becomes a canyon with giant boulders, waterfalls and plunge pools to jump in! Keep going until you come to the biggest one around, which sits beneath an unknown crag. It loses the sun just after lunch, though.


You can also walk up the valley, to an abandoned village called Otin. After passing Surgencia, follow the path up the hill on the left side of the valley (looking up). Walk for ages and you’ll come to it eventually! Explore the abandoned church and houses. This journey takes a couple of hours each way.


El Delfin arch


Useful Phrases

Puta madre!!

A muerte!


Aupa aupa

Venga Bicho

Dos cervezas por favor!


Just remember, every other person in Spain is a wad!


Thanks to Nick Bullock for the hilarious blog post on Rodellar, inspiring me to write this.

Tom LivingstoneComment