Alto Mijares – Olba – Sector Sol de Invierno

The recently developed climbing area of Alto Mijares is near the village of Olba in the far southern reaches of Aragon. It is surrounded by far more famous and well established crags like Chulilla, Montanejos and Jerica, but is fast on the way to joining that elite company – it’s a really quite magical place.A series of side canyons have formed at the confluence of the Mijares and Palomarejas Rivers, which has been dammed and diverted by a hydroelectric scheme. The whole area is rimmed by 20-30m orange and grey limestone crags, giving almost 500 routes facing all orientations, and every style (though pockets predominate!)A couple of enterprising Germans have established a minimalist refugio and van camping spot (3 euros p.p.p.n.) which provides a chilled base from which to explore the climbing (all accessible on foot) and enjoy the feeling of remote tranquility.The weather couldn’t really decide what to do on our first day, apart from muster a blustery wind, so we set off for Sector Sol de Invierno “Winter Sun” on El Lado Soleado “The Sunny Side” of the Palomarejas valley – wrapped up warm but full of hope.Sure enough, the sector name lived up to the promise, and it was cracking the flags at the crag.The route from the Refugio is fairly obvious but here’s a Wikiloc to help: warmed up on Oli, 6a+, which had a really tough start (better to stick to the crack) – it’s the route with our pink rope down it, with a Spanish girl on the 6b to the right.Justin and Chris, and Ali and Phil opened up with Passo de Cabras, 6a+ and Vampiro, 6b+.… both recommend but neither particularly easy for the grade.I had a go at Candela, 7a, but got shut down on a very thin crux around 1/3 height. Justin fared better on the adjacent Pelambres, 6c+, which I did manage (and enjoyed despite my general aversion to anything at that grade).Further right, Helen did Mi Amigo Parri, 6a,Here’s Justin on the same route arriving at the “sting in the tail”!Also at the right hand end of the sector, Ali and Phil left the clips in Bailando con Bolos, 7a, but I couldn’t quite take advantage, missing a key layaway. Never mind, it’s a stunning line – photos courtesy of Phil:

Fab spot!