Albarracin and ash clouds

Albarracin is situated in Spain between Valencia and Zaragoza and offers an excellent bouldering venue. Grades are definitely holiday grades so a good place to go if you want to feel strong on day one.

Getting there is pretty simple, we caught a plane from East Midlands to Valencia then hired a car for the week. The drive is around 2 hours long on the motorway and twenty minutes on small windy roads in a small car with 4 men, two bouldering mats and all of our kit. Of course it’s going to make you sick!

Accommodation wise there is camping and bungalows in Albarracin. While we were there it was between 2 and 18 degrees depending if the sun was in or not, it even snowed so I wouldn’t fancy camping for a week if it was really cold. Also you would have a ridiculous amount of kit, for 69 euros a day you can have a bungalow which provides all you need.

The climbing is on sandstone, a lot softer then Fontainebleau but has better friction, a lot of the climbing involves being on a steep wall/roof with a tough mantel to finish.

We had two days of snow, three days of rain and two days which were almost too hot to climb, so as for the weather pack for all eventualities.

As for the trip back we got caught in the volcanic ash cloud and had our flights cancelled until 9 days after. So we caught two underground trains, one hire car, a bus, got a lift from a friend in his van a couple of hundred miles over the border as every hire car company was charging you £1400 for driving it over (thank you John and Fran), one train up to Paris, one Euro tunnel, another two subways, another train, one taxi and we were home. Bueno!

It took us just shy of 50 hours to get back and cost us around £250 extra, it’s better than hanging on for another week getting wet, there’s only so much time you can spend in a bungashed that’s 6 x 4mtrs.

On the plane out I said I wasn’t sure if I was ready to go back to Spain after the last epic, it turns out I was right… I wasn’t.

Albarracin is an excellent bouldering venue but still has so much to be developed, I’d look at going back in a few years to see if the holds haven’t been pulled off and when the new area’s get developed.

Photos Paul Philips.

By Dan Bradley