Alto Mijares – Olba – Sector Casucho

Waking up in the van at the Alto Mijares refugio, and looking out of the bedroom window; hrmmm, where shall we go climbing today?

The top of the canyon immediately opposite the campsite is home to the biggest sunny sector, Casucho, which stretches for about a kilometer of sun-kissed southsouthwest-facing limestone (the photo’s a bit of a cheat as it was actually taken around 6.30pm). There are over a hundred routes spread over numerous sectors and we explored most of it over the course of a couple of days.

You could park a bit closer, but it’s such a joy to be able to walk to the crag from your van, and no great hardship to drop down into the gorge (Le Hoz) and head back up the other side.

There’s a bit of a wrinkle to get over the Palomarejas river, with a few people getting a bit lost or damp, so here’s a bit of beta:

From the end of the concrete bridge over the Mijares and the following signpost…

Plan A: take the right fork to Pta da Salud and shortly turn left on a bit of a trod through undergrowth and small streams to arrive at a makeshift wooden bridge…

… and then follow cairns right then left to arrive at a good path to the far side of the aquaduct.

… Or Plan B: take the left fork to Puente la Fonseca (as for Sector Sol de Invierno) but drop down to the top of the aquaduct via a fixed rope and cross this via a couple of fences to reach the same point.

I’d recommend Plan A as being less faff, less energy and less likely to pi$$ off the local community. Anyway, either way, there’s now a well-cairned zigzagging path up through terraces which brings you out at Sector Don Quixote, bang in the middle of the Casucho crags.

This is the obvious tall wall in the middle of the photo below

With the outstanding namesake 6b route taking the obvious overhanging corner. 4* in anyone’s book!

Here’s Ali styling up it whilst it’s still in the shade.

There are a bunch of good routes either side:

Here’s Helen on Sancho Panzer, 6a+ (whatever happened to him? …)

…and Chris on Rosinante, 6a

It was all getting a bit too toasty by now – where do you find shady routes on a south-facing crag? Casucho has it covered, courtesy of the huge monolith of the Bergfreundeturm, which has about 20 routes of 20m around all 4 sides as well as providing shade for another dozen in “The Alley” / Callejon, behind it.

We did a couple of outstanding 7as on the shady main wall. Here’s Phil on Curva Peligrosa

… and topping out (tiny dot at the top of the photo)

… and Here’s Ali working through the crux of the 7a Super Luigi extension above Super Mario, 6b (and very good in its own right)

Our second day on Casucho saw us starting just right of Don Quixote and working rightwards. For the next few hundred metres the routes are a bit more spread out on isolated buttresses, but with good quality lines to be found, a number of which post-date the guide (which only came out in May 2019 – available at the refugio). There’s up to date information on all the routes on thecrag.com at http://altomijares.org/en/sectors-routes/

I managed to surprise myself getting Sombra del Icaro, 7a+, with a very bouldery start (2nd go) – not the best line, but chuffed with the tick.

At the far right of Casucho the quality and route density picks up again with the stunning Esquina Alemana and Espanola. The steep pockety wall of Alemana is clearly visible from the campsite. It’s bounded on its left by the impressive leaning corner of Negro

…and La Pinata, 6c+, takes the plumb line just left of the right arete. Here are a few photos of Chris, Justin and me on it:

… Candidate for “Route of the Trip” award.

Completing the righthand end of the crag is the very fine Esquina Espanola. By a happy coincidence Phil had his “Big Lense” handy back at the campsite to take this great shot of Helen finishing off the day in style on Esperando Nuria, 6a.

Here’s the view from below.

A fab few days in an absolutely cracking place – we’ll definitely be back!

If you are planning a trip you should also read the previous post on the other sunny sector:

https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2020/03/03/alto-mijares-olba-sector-sol-de-invierno/