Spain – Rodellar is probably one of the most impressive climbing sites that I’ve been to in Europe. With over 300 sport routes featuring a variety of breathtaking limestone walls, the canyon is a unique peaceful get-a-way nestled in the Sierra de Guarra, far from the bustle of everyday Spanish life. The climbing here is long and powerful combing a mixture of overhanging crags and deep caves. While at first glimpse daunting, you’ll find yourself in climbing heaven when you experience the quality of the lines that have been put up.
Rodellar is situated between the towns of Huesca and Barbastro in the province of Aragorn. Like Siurana, the village sits atop a beautiful canyon, through which the river Mascún runs. Walking down into the gorge feels like stepping back in time, into an area untouched by human hands. The vegetation is very unique with grassy river banks and green ferns lining the pathways. No noise pollution here, just nature in its purest form. As such, Rodellar is not only popular in climbing circles, but also with mountain bikers and canyoning folks.
Ten minutes of walking from the village will bring you to the first routes. Sectors are split up into small areas lining both sides of the gorge. This allows climbers to pick conditions with sun or shade during the day, and is a great boon during winter climbing months. The quality of the limestone is good, although some routes have become polished over recent years. As mentioned above the climbing here is very athletic. The most impressive walls along the Gran Boveda contain routes up to 40m in length and require high levels of power-endurance. But don’t be dismayed if you are interested in short power tours. There are also plenty of caves with impressive tufa roofs, including some jaw-dropping lines which are still being projected, clocking in 15-20m or so in length.
I can recommend the sectors Egocentrisimo, Bulder de Jon, Cafe Solo and Bisagara, which can all be found just next to the village. Egocentrisimo has some really impressive routes which are all around 25m. Make sure to try De Bien Nacidos (7a+) which has a really nice sections that looks like an open book carved into the wall. Cafe Solo has some nice routes in the 7a-7b, which are pretty tough for their grades though. Bulder Job is where it’s at if you’re looking for short, overhanging climbing. Steil is geil (7a+) and El Pequeno Bravo (7c) are both quality. On the other side of the valley check out Familia Manson and the absolutely stunning lines running through this massive cave. Also the Grand Boveda is worth a visit, if only to stare in wonder at the sheer length of the routes. Further up the valley make sure to climb at Maldita Codicia if you’re strong enough. Optically its probably one of the best crags in the valley, as you climb out of a cave through which the river runs, and finish off on some sustained jugs just underneath sector El Camino.
This variety is a real plus for Rodellar. Being able to switch focus and go from 40° roofs to super long 45m endurances tests without having to leave the area is great. There are also a number of multi-pitch climbs further inside the canyon for the more adventurous. During off days one can have a great time exploring the valley through the numerous hiking trails, or alternatively just go for a cool dip in one of the many pools along the river. If you really want a break from Rodellar, the famous red conglomerate towers of Riglos are only a couple of hours drive away, and offer some of the best multi-pitch climbing in all of Spain. Monsant, Margalef and Arboli are also right around the corner.
There are two camp sites in Rodellar, one of them right next to the village and another just outside. Both cost around €6 per person and offer all the basic services, including shops for an assortment of food and climbing utilities (chalk etc). The topograph for the area can also be baught here for €10 (Ascaso & Lograno, “Rodellar-Mascún Guia de escalada”).You’ll have to buy your main supplies and fresh food at Huesca though, so plan accordingly. There is a fresh water tap in town suitable for drinking. Many climbers sleep along the roadside going into the village. The atmosphere is very relaxed, with not much going in Rodellar other than climbing. Recently there has been a little development with a couple of new buildings and a new bars opening. Weekends always sees an influx of local and French climbers and a lot of tourists who come to hike through the canyon. But since there are so many nooks and crannies in the valley, you can always find a peaceful corner for yourself.
If you have the time I can highly recommend getting together a group of friends and renting a car to pay this area a visit. Rodellar is one of those rare places which combine fantastic climbing, good weather, easy accessibility and a one-of-a-kind atmosphere to make for a truly unique experience.
Useful links: Camping El Puente, Camping Mascun, RockFax Costa Daurada