El Purgoso, (Totana)

We decided on a ‘lucky dip’ crag, selected from Donde Escalar. El Purgoso was just 40 minutes away, a sun-trap, with a good mix of grades and a 4 carabiner rating. Worth a look…

A bit of Googling failed to turn up a topo, but did yield a couple of blog posts citing good rock but some dodgy bolting: ‘ESCUELA MUY MAL EQUIPADA…..’

A gentle 10 minutes walk leads to the top of the crag and a blocky path down – both the descent and the crag bear a passing resemblance to Rhoscolyn  (apart from the lack of sea and the gleaming bolts…)

The other comparison that came to mind was Hobson Moor – very much felt like a ‘local’ crag, with just 40 or so routes, fairly short but packing a punch. Also incredibly sheltered – a great option if you were staying at El Berro and Leyva was too cold  (like yesterday!)

With no guidebook, we picked a 6a-looking line and found we’d guessed about right – maybe 5+. 

Then a couple of local teams turned up, with one of them clearly being the local crag guru. He pointed out all the routes to do, what the grades were, and warned that they were generally ‘duro’ as the routes were ‘bloco’ – bouldery and short…

First of the recommendations was Alambique Parlance, a very cruxy 6b+ that saw me scuttling back down with my tail between my legs. Our host generously tutted and said it would be 6c+ anywhere else. I made a better fist of Ana Rosa 6b and then we did the classic corner of Draco, 6a, and a 6b translated as ‘heroin’ to its left. They all felt a good letter grade harder than suggested. 

Finally I was pointed up Purpura 6b+ and ‘the route of the crag’, and warned that there was a really hard move at about 2/3 height. Having fluffed my last test I was determined not to let the side down again. It was a tough move indeed – well worth 6c+ or maybe 7a, but I just about scraped my way through it and some honour was restored. 

What a pleasure it is to meet such friendly, welcoming folk – we’re so lucky that this happens so regularly amongst climbers all over the world. 

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