We spent weeks looking at the weather forecast and hoping that a cloud or two would appear on the screen. Instead, we had pure sunshine and perfect conditions for a pool day. It’s been going on like this the last 3 weeks. The El Niño winter. One of our warmest winter across Europe so far. And it was a taste of how summer was like in Tenerife in the middle of December.
There were news of new sectors, a frenzy of bolting taking place. I was excited to discover so many new routes even in the classical sectors of Arico. We stood in front of 2 inviting looking route. A small school of climbers passed by, when the guide spoke up to us, “They are not in the guidebook, they’re new.” So we went on, hoping to find the route we were looking for. And hoping the crowd would leave one route free for us. It was the weekend. It was full. But the canyon is big, and there’s never a problem to find something to get your fingers on. We found ourselves later in the day at the end of Arico Arriba. Quickdraws were quickly laid in Pinzatelo bien 7b. Chakka ! A good day for hubby. I settled on an easier route further right: an unforgiving, bouldery 6b “Suéltame grifa” with a run out and mantel to the anchor. Damn, my wrists hurt, and signs of wear and tear on my body didn’t give a damn if I was on a climbing vacation or not. My disc prolapse and sciatica was taking off a new dimension. It was not a good start for me into the new year. But I was happy to try climb what I could.
Tenerife is a good destination to hit if you want to have constant weather, lots of sun and a bit of summer. There are also some good shady sectors to hit on hot windless days. We saw this place last year and had to come back again. We were also curious about the new areas that has been popping up like mushrooms.
A fascinating barranco lays hidden, right next to the hamlet of Fasnia. Low and behold, 4 sectors fills the small canyon, with sector Frontales (north facing) being the highest from them all. We started from the left, and worked our way through the right. I made a go for a flash in Cabezza de perro a 6c+ But my wrists weakened and hurt right where the slopers were, and I had to let go. The guys took on an onsight in Party Flow 7a+, and Egocentrismo 7b had to come by the next time round. I loved the grip, and the bolting here was perfect. This area isn’t found in the official guidebook, which made the area a tad less international than usual. The access says to drive down the dirt road, but it was in such bad conditions, we decided to leave the rental car at the side of the road and walk 5 minutes down the slope. Not a problem for a 4WD and cars without a spoiler.
Work in progress. That was how we felt when we were there. Work was heavily in progress when we saw how the bolting crew hinged off huge blocks and tons of rock off the walls. This sector lays a few km just before Arico Abajo. You can’t miss the access, you can’t miss that huge stone cairns down the barranco. There’s shade and sun on both sides of the valley, which made climbing here pleasant, with both easier and harder grades on both sides of the wall. The climbing is rather technical. Planeta Zarza 5+ had a difficult start (for that grade) and a scary clip to the 3rd bolt. El Grandote 6b and El rubio y la toyota 6b+ on the other side of the canyon are great fun. Gofio Canario is a slightly overhanging 7b and almost a must do while you are there. Loved the grip in the sector, and the routes too. Since it’s still new, take heed of loose rocks that may come flying without notice.
La Boveda, Sector Fantasma
Put it this way, almost the whole stretch of the Barranco El Rio is bolted. From the top to the bottom. La Boveda is a few km down the El Rio Barranco and shares the same parking lot as El Hoya or Fantasma. It has seen a few years of existence, looking at the conditions of the bolts. There are not many routes here, but those that exist are worth a visit after noon. A breeze makes the heat bearable. “La Estrecha” 6c is technical and crimpy, “La pecaminosa” 7b is overhanging and long. Unfortunately, rusty bolts and pigeon droppings are the biggest spoiler of this sector.
Sector Fantasma is a more recent developed sector to the front, which goes almost right to the end where La Boveda starts. There’s a good choice of shorter routes in the lower grades, densely bolted on both sides of the canyon. The (nature of the) rock is much more polished and compact than other areas, the further you go behind in the canyon, the more compact it becomes. Some great looking lines like Anchas de Rana 6c , Casper 6c+ and El Ventosa 7a+ are found right behind where the first traverse through the canyon (with metal ropes) are found. However, climbing the route would mean either finding your rope in pigeon dirt, or in a gooey, filthy pond from the last rainfall. What a shame! The central spot lay in the middle of the sector – where chalked routes densely lay side by side.
Super Zero, El Saltaderro, Las Planetas
We spent a few days in Zona Zero and Super Zero. It was never too crowded and it was a welcome on hot windless days, and the routes were much better than it looked. A few new lines were bolted this year, one of which isn’t harder than a 6a+, amazingly. If you have a longer rope (80m) you could do the El camino de los ingleses 6c with the second pitch in one stretch. Then there’s Matacan 1 to 4. With Matacan 2, a 7c being the hardest. Do them all. Great moves! (And some rusty bolts!)
About 15 mins further back in the canyon, lays Super zero with long 35 – 40 m routes. Arroyito is a long 6b+/c with a bouldery start. It pays off after the crux. (take care of your sheens, during a fall) Long, long lines comes one next to each other, but some hollow rock passages and rusty bolts in between could be for some, too rusty and too hollow to taste. Metasulfitos 7a, calls for some awkward moves using your butt up.
We saw El Saltaderro and Las Planetas too, sectors published in one of the german climbing magazines some time back. However, it’s not all gold what glitters. You will have to be careful in some of the routes in El Saltaderro, as the quality of the rocks aren’t so good. You could describe them as crumbly, if you get on the wrong side of the canyon. Best if you stay on the right side (south west facing) of the canyon, i.e stay on the access, and at the end, do not descend down, but stay on the same altitude till you reach the wall. Unfortunately, this wall is in the sun most of the day. The routes here seemed better (not so crumbly)than those bolted on the left.
The description to the access published for finding Las Planetas had a typo, which made us drive the road umpteenth times before we took the left curve to find the crag. We didn’t climb here and Sector La Entrada seemed most appealing for sport-craggers. Speaking with some ladies I met some days later, they too confirmed that the quality of the rock in that sector is only average.
The most difficult route you will find on this sector is a 6b+. So the topo says. Tabadaya lies in a Barranco behind Arico Viejo. There are 46 routes to date bolted for beginners and intermediate climbers. The rock is a mix of compact similiar to that of Fantasma and Fasnia. In sector Cuarto Largo, you will find the longest and steepest routes available here in the sector. “V-Style” 6b instantly caught my attention, and it instantly also became evident to me that a taaall guy must’ve bolted this route. Routes on both sides of the canyon makes it possible to climb the whole day here. Needless to say, weekends finds this place crowded and gives you the climbing gym feeling.
Summing it up
There’s really lots of activity happening around the areas of Arico lately. It’s high time a new guide book with a good overview of the areas should be coming out to get rid of all the bits and pieces of information.
Roxtar, the climbing shop in Arico has plenty of tips for you, and Nick is helpful on giving the information to the new sectors. You can find the topo in the shop. Thanks to him, I have a new pair of pinks (and got my old lost ones back!) The shop is well sorted, rents crash pads and stands right next to the Tenerife Climbing House. Buying a T-Shirt here supports the climbing community with 2 bolts per shirt. They lay centrally just on the way to the climbing areas, you can’t miss them.
Rusty bolts are not a rare sight on the island. The nearer to the sea, the more you would find bolts fallen as victims of corrosion. While this is a point of discussion on safety, this is also a cost factor which someone will have to take in to sometime soon to upkeep some really good routes in the upper grades. Nevertheless, there are plentiful routes (and boulders) on the island to have a fun-filled and sunny vacation away from snow, clouds, and rain. If that’s too little for you, why not trial run up to El Teide at midnight? You definitely won’t need your sunscreen. ;)
Yeah, Christmas in shorts is an awesome thing!
And you know what, there’s so many wild and pretty corners on this island that has to be discovered. Here’s a prelude … (more on my next article)