Peton do Xalo

We’re heading west to Galicia to try to outflank a major weather system blowing in from the Atlantic, but that did mean an unpleasant few hours driving through the eye of the storm. Our first port of call was Eume, a protected natural area along the river of the same name, and home to one of the region’s major crags. Situated alongside a huge dam, the smooth granite slabs offer routes of well over a hundred metres, but only to experts in “adherence”. Apparently there are no holds, and friction is your only friend…

Not today it wouldn’t be – after torrential rain, the crag was streaming with waterfalls!

It’s going to take more than a few hours of sun to get that lot into nick! Impressive spot though, and presumably there’s as much again the other side of the dam, albeit even wetter!

There’s also a single pitch area, but we left both to explore on a future visit.

There’s a nearby overnight parking aire, which we found fairly easily, then went in search of a key to get in. After a few helpful referrals we were pointed at the rather grand looking hotel in town, obviously closed for the season. The proprietor insisted that we forget about the aire and instead park up in his commodious (and empty) car park, and wouldn’t hear of taking a fee. What a nice chap.

As forecast, the storm passed through overnight (on the way to dumping a whole pile of snow across most of central and eastern Spain) and we were left with a bright but blustery day. Our Plan B had been the climbing around Ferrol, including Acantilados de Chanteiro, but the Meteorological Authorities had issued Amber Warnings of a Coastal Event which didn’t auger well for exploring unknown and reportedly highly tidal and wave-prone seacliffs.

Instead we headed for Peton do Xalo, which turned out to be an idyllic spot.

This granite capped hilltop is a magnet for mountain bikers, runners and picnicking families, as well as climbers, and you can imagine you’ve been transported to a sylvan corner of Dartmoor. The climbing is on a series of small buttresses and pinnacles on the summit, facing all directions and with fantastic views all the way to the coast.

Routes vary from fiendish to friendly, and we plumped for the latter in light of the chill, enjoying a bunch of fun, slabby IVs and Vs on the sunny south facing sector La Escalera, including the somewhat presumptuously named Mattahorn!

Grit-style V Diffs and Severes on granite with bolts, what’s not to like? As a bonus, the parking / picnic area would make a great place to park up overnight…

… but we were intent on heading for the seaside.

Footnote on guidebooks for Galicia: There’s a long-out-of-print selected climbs guide to the whole region, which you can pick up for free as a scanned pdf online by searching Galicia Vertical Croquis Escalada

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