One great getaway in winter is to go rock climbing in Gran Canaria. Stable temperatures in the 20-ties and plentiful sunshine is actually what you would get between November and March. It’s high season and the island is filled with people running away from the cold grey winter in their country. The best way to discover how the locals lives their lives and have their meals is to get your own apartment. If you live in an all-inclusive hotel you ‘ll have little chances of experiencing these instances. Ohh, sorry, i forgot, we are supposed to be talking about rock climbing in Gran Canaria. No?
- 1 Lets go straight to the facts
- 2 The first touch
- 3 A “Jumping dog” (Salto del Perro) high up
- 4 Beyond our reach
- 5 Then came Ron Miel to sweetened things up
- 6 Crashpads and blocks
- 7 Summary
- 8 Picture-Gallery:
Lets go straight to the facts
There are a few different sectors scattered all over the island. If you are staying in the south, you will be looking at the areas like Ayagaures, Fataga, Salto del Perro, Sorrueda or La Candidilla. Living up more north, you ‘ll probably head for Cenobio and all the sectors found up in the northern coast. Tamadaba is reachable from all over the island, but it’s really advisable to stay there for a couple of days instead of making it a day trip.
We took our apartment off the south-east coast of the island, in an area where all wind surfers would call their own world of paradise. There’s quite a bit of a pebbly beach and plenty of wind. With Bahia Feliz, the main coastal tourism starts and ends off at Porto Mogan. Then things starts to get a little more quiet. Just a little.
The first touch
Ayagaures was our first visit upon arrival. This area lies behind the second reservoir, in a quiet valley between a dry river bed and many Reed plants. You park off at the beginning of the second reservoir and walk along the edge of the reservoir until you reach the base of the crags. It’s possible to climb in Sector L’acteo in the mornings, and change to the opposite Main sector and in Arriba, in the afternoon. Very technical routes with a good feet technique is the key to the climbing in this area. The main sector has some really long routes to look into. We recommend: Busca y encontrarás 7b (base is not very comfortable for belaying), Sembrando la duda 6b, Yoguhrt 7a, Apalanca 7a+ and Gritos pa’na 6c. If you haven’t done much technical stuff in your climbing career, you can well practice them in this area.
Our second day brought us to Sorrueda, which lies at the end of the road into the sorrueda canyon. Most of the sectors lies on the left hand side of the river which is in the shade most of the day. Sector Salon was our first stop. The routes were fairly long, and the bolts were quite new. Many of the routes in Salon requires more endurance, with mostly just a crux. Personally, we found the grading in this sector there pretty easy. The sectors are protected from the sun with the exception of Sector Enfrente and Ninja Troll which lies opposite of the river bed and is exposed to the sun the whole day. Park your car at the designated parking lots, unless you have a four-wheel drive that will wheel you up back to the normal road. We did think for a second that our little corsa would’ve given up on us and I would be pushing it the rest of the way. But it all went on fine. A light breeze accompanies you the whole day and was glad to have my primaloft jacket along with me. We recommend: Curripipi Climb 6c, Frio pol culo , Penelope direct variant with our suggestion 7b, Lajilla town 6b+.
Fataga was not much fun when we arrived at 16:00 that day. We had 24 degrees in the shade, much too hot for touching a hot rock or getting to work out on hard routes. It’s best to come here on a cloudy day or when temperatures are much cooler. If everywhere else is windy, you’ll find that Fataga is often protected from the winds and can be sun trapped in the mornings. Park right on top, then walk down the dirt road and cross the dam, accessing to the first sector right after the last flight of steps. Don’t leave any valuables in the car. Car theft is not something new on this island. If the locals recommends you a route, take it. Rock quality can be poor at some routes. We recommend: Sin Querer 6c+, Priscila 6a+, Los tres monos 6b+, Marugeitor perdita 6b, Zagarit 7a, La Habana 6c, Quédate hasta el final 7b
A “Jumping dog” (Salto del Perro) high up
Salto del Perro is definitely more than a 15min walk. The path from the parking lot takes you right to the last curb of the mountain and then heads back until the base of the first rock, which you cross on the base until you reach the first routes. Be sure to head off early in the morning. Even at 10 a.m the sun reaches the crag in the winter. Best on days where it’s cloudy or cold, or arrive there really early in the mornings in winter for some really hard climbing on higher level grades. Calculate 20 -30 minutes for the access to the crags. The way starts off on the right path from the parking lot to the crag right above. Bolts were all in good conditions. The rock is not always good. Good on colder days as this crag faces the sun the whole day. I’m not too sure if the crag was named after the mummy of the dog we found chained till his death during our hike up. This was so cruel. :-(
Beyond our reach
Tamadaba is something you might to take into when you want an absolute getaway from all the touristy thingy and enjoy a quiet night out on a plateau high up in the mountains with absolutely nobody, just you and the pine trees and an awesome view to the northern parts of the island. It’s definitely not a place to take a day excursion out for and return on the same day. We needed some 2 hours from the south to get there, travelling through various canyons, and small little windy roads until you turn green. Once there, you will be rewarded with a cool atmosphere, right at the tip of a plateau overlooking some of the best views to Agaete and Galdar, on clear days even to Teneriffe. All sectors looks to the sea, some views are hidden behind the trees, and all of them are below the ridge, which means you will have to descend to the different sectors. It’s best to start from the toilets and head off to the different sectors with a few minutes.
Before you head and plan a day out n Tamadaba, its best to be aware that it’s not easy to find all the sectors, even though the sectors are actually situated just below the ridge of the different canyons. You will probably need half a day to first customize yourself with the surroundings, then get all the north, south coordinates correct in your head and then find yourself in a vegetation that has no sign posts or tracks that are frequently used. Not even stone piles are around. Route names are very scarce, so you will have a problem finding the route. You’ ll be best equip when you come well prepared with a compass or GPS track in your smart phone. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get lost. We spent the day looking for the sectors without actually doing any climbing that day. Also, many routes or sectors needs re-bolting urgently, so that nobody has to use those really rusty looking bolts. Ideally, it’s best if you meet a local climber who will lead you to the sector. In any case, plan a night out in Tamadaba, if you want to discover all sectors in the area. You will need a permit to stay overnight at the campgrounds there. Permits can be acquired at Las Palmas, as described in the guide-book. Climbing in Tamadaba does not require a permit. Just a very good sense of direction and a sense of finding your way around in a signless area.
The week in Gran Canaria was really hot. We had at times temperatures up to 26 degrees and it was far off better to hit the higher spots in the north, or head for La Candidilla. El Cenobio was one of the areas up north which stayed cool the whole day. The sector lies at the dead-end canyon behind the beaches of San Felipe. Only some routes in sector Grande has been recently rebolted. The rest is still waiting for a kind soul to do this. Mosquitos loved their prey in the mornings and long pants and pullover were a good bet. We recommend: Adargoma L1 6c, and Nena 7b (absolutely amazing moves!)
Then came Ron Miel to sweetened things up
La Candidilla was my favourite amongst all the climbing areas in Gran Canaria. It has a magnificent view from the top, offers a devastating sundowner and athletic routes in the middle level. The rock was very good, the bolts too. Park opposite the bar, walk 100m back on the main road until the lowest point before taking a faint path through the almond trees and hit straight up to a big boulder rock before continuing to the left which brings you directly to the base of the first routes. 10 mins from the car. Bolts were all in best condition. And it can get very, very cold if windy ( = 7° c). Due to its North-west position, the crag is actually in the shade for the whole day (till about 5pm) All routes are awesome. If you’re up to it, try Vitamina Potencia 8a+ (flaky at the beginning, then really good afterwards)
Crashpads and blocks
If you boulder, you should hit for the areas at Mogán. This area has seen some annual meets and competitions with more than 1000 boulder problems to offer. After the town Mogan, head off further north and drive right at the GC-605 junction to La Presa de las Ninas. You can find the coordinates of the boulder area HERE. Sorrueda and El Cenobio has some nice blocks too. They are scattered all amongst the different sectors. If you didn’t bring your Crash Pad along, you could rent them from the climbing gym in Las Palmas.
If you are a limestone climber and it’s your first time in basalt, it’s a slap in the face, climbing in Gran Canaria. You will always be pushing, pulling, hoping your feet will have a good grip on basalt and you ‘ll dealing with slopers. It’s almost like climbing in granite. Almost..
Many routes on the island, especially these near the sea needs urgent rebolting. As we all know, rebolting does not happen on its own. It needs a good financial pocket and climbers who are willing to do it.
Best time of year
Coming here, you will be rewarded with a stable temperature around the 20-ties which makes it possible to climb in the shade with a good primaloft or even a light down jacket and then hit the beaches later on in your bikini. The island is green, varied and has some great views from the top (i.e. Rock Nublo, La Candidilla, Tamadaba).
- On hot days (from 25°c upwards), best bets are:
La Candidilla, Tamadaba, Sorrueda and the areas up north
- On cooler days (around 17-21°), best bets are:
Fataga, Ayagaures, Salto del Perro
- When it rains:
It’s better and safer to hit the climbing gym in Las Palmas. When it rains, it rains. And all the barrancos will grow into a dashing wild river. Some of the access can be dangerous after heavy rainfall.
To climb in Gran Canaria, you will have to fly here. Most of the tour operators like TUI , Air Berlin, etc offers deal packages on certain periods, so keep a look out. It’s also possible to take the Ship from the mainland or africa, to get on the island. You will need to hire a car to get around the island.
The island is filled with hotels and holiday apartments. Staying in the south, access to areas like Fataga, Ayagaures, Sorrueda or La Candidilla are best bets. La Candidilla would be furthest from the southern coast and is at the most a 40 minutes drive away from Maspalomas.
To climb in Tamadaba, we strongly suggest you stay a night there. Making a day trip to climb there can be quite horrifying and stress, especially if it’s your first time and if you’re alone. the camp grounds are high up on the ridge and have a wonderful setting and drinking water.
- Guía de escalada deportiva de Gran Canaria, printed in 2011 (available in all bookstores or “Librerías” on the island, or google to order it from home)
- Links and updates at www.climbincanarias.com
70 m Rope, 14 Quickdraws for Sportsclimbing. Generally, the routes are not that long. Nevertheless, there are routes wich reach out to a good 30 – 40m, depending on which grade you climb on.
Rock and Style:
Basalt is the keyword to the style of climbing in Gran Canaria. If you’ve been climbing on limestone all your life and never felt Basalt in your fingers, this is going to be a slap in the face. Be ready to learn how to climb up a real crack, pushing, pulling and footing out on some friction slabs. The locals loves giving good hints on which routes you should try out on. Take it.
Helmets: While every climbing site will always ask you to wear a helmet while you climb, I will too. Nevertheless I did not see anyone who had one on their heads while climbing in Gran Canaria. Beware of falling rocks in some routes with poor rock quality while your partner leads. Belayers pay attention! Do not allow your children to stand near routes where climbers are climbing.
La Candilla for the perfect sundowner, big holds and some athletic moves. Ayagaures for it’s hike around the reservoir and it’s long, technical and demanding routes in pure basalt. Sorrueda for it’s Oasis position.
Wild camping is forbidden in Gran Canaria. You’ll need a permit to stay at the Camp grounds on the island. Some of the camp grounds are situated on dream landscapes. They are either high up, or right infront of the beach. Water is of course always available there.
Smaller markets are available in every town. Bigger supermarkets can be found in Telde or Maspalomas (San Fernando) or head for the Mercadona where locals buy their stuff.
Climbing shop in Las Palmas: www.mandala-climb.com
- Palmitos Park – If you’ve not had enough of nature, go there
- Dunes of Maspalomas
- Gran Canaria’s little Venedig – Puerto Morgan
- Toe dipping at the beach
- Whale / Dolphin watching
- Climb Roque Nublo. Well, why is this here? Join the tourists that pilgers to that massive rock and get awesome views over the whole island. Oh yes, I saw some climbers in the overhanging crag that lays just before scrambling up the hill. Very north faced.
- Try the Cortado leche y leche in any Bar. It’s the Caffè Latte to die for.