Chiva

Yet another pretender to the Castellón climbing crown, Chiva is too recently developed to even make it into the latest edition of Donde Escalar (2018). It does feature in the new Levante Climbs North guidebook, and gets a glowing write-up in this article in Desnivel:

http://www.chiva.es/sites/default/files/chiva_valencia_-_desnivel_1.pdf

… so we decided to take a look.

The town of Chiva is only about 10mins out of the way on the journey south from Castellón to Alicante, but Google Maps suggested a further half an hour to actually reach the crag, another 10 km away. Surely not… It turns out that there are a lot of zigzags and a fair few potholes on the single-track tarmac road up to the crag. Keep following signposts to Fuente la Alhondiga:

This is a very tranquil spot, ideal for picnics or overnighting in the van;

we only saw half a dozen cars on the road all day, piled high with miscellaneous water containers of all shapes and sizes for the weekly fill up.

There’s a LOT of rock, and the half dozen developed sectors, with around 150 routes, are mostly within 5 minutes of the road. The premier crag is Corral de Vacas,

and it’s an impressive cirque with long (25m-35m) steep 7s and 8s on the lefthand end,

gradually diminishing in height and grade towards the right (typically 15m and 6a-c).

We shuffled along rightwards until we were in the 6a zone and did Bukake al Ingeniero – a bit dusty and a pretty tough proposition at the grade, partly because it was absolutely roasting in this giant solar concentrator!

We headed left until we met the advancing shade coming our way, and did the unnamed 25m 6b (Route 23 in the guidebook), much better up a steep juggy wall.

… Still nails though!

On the principle of “better hung for a sheep as a lamb” I decided to throw myself at La Polola, a cool looking 7a up a tufa corner. I’d navigated the allotted 22m and 9 bolts without any evidence of the promised lower-off, when I started to wonder whether I was on the right route. A major foothold crumble brought things to a head and I bailed, only to realise on closer examination I’d been on Sol Invictus, a 35m 7b+. Hey ho!

We sacked the climbing for the day and settled in to enjoy a peaceful night at the fuente (fabulous full moon)

We hadn’t been blown away by the climbing but decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and try a different sector the next day. Montesa is a few hundred metres further up the valley and just above the road.

Chilly and windy, but we set off up the 3* 6a+ eponymous route of the sector. Bizarre how they’ve adopted the Peak Quarry star-rating standard, as this wouldn’t warrant 2*s at Intake – poor, loose and dirty. Helen did Se Infel…, a 4c around the corner, and reported it to be enjoyable but friable.

Verdict: On the plus side, it’s a beautiful spot with a ton of climbing, handily roadside, well bolted (though quite a few routes have the first hanger missing), and definitely not polished. In the minus column, the routes are still “settling down” with some loose rock / scrattlyness in places, and the grades seem a bit stiff. Bear in mind that these impressions are from a very limited number of routes and we’d been rather spoiled by visiting Olba immediately beforehand, so don’t be put off – give it a go (worst case you can always fill your water bottles!)