Escales – Els Escondite

The Escales section of the guidebook runs to almost a hundred pages, with a dozen sectors and a couple of hundred routes in the vicinity of the reservoir of the same name on the main N230 from Lleida to El Pont de Suert. This is just a quick snap shot of a drive-by and a visit to a couple with short approaches.

First – Els Escondite Facil. It’s super handy, right next to the road (a mixed blessing) but a quick recce failed to inspire. Meh grey slabs.

A little further along the road (and further away from it) is Escondite proper, which is a much more attractive proposition. You park just south of tunnel no 12 (the second one you encounter coming from El Pont de Suert)

… and then a gentle 5mins walk up a decent path

… brings you to the crag. There were a few Sunday Spanish teams already engaged, though there seemed to be a fair bit of struggling going on. You can just about make out a climber on Vamp, V+ (immediately behind the tree). This is one of a pair of Vs next to each other, and we didn’t want to crowd them, so we got on Del Ricard, 6a+ and the next easiest route at the left hand end of the crag. Excellent but absolutely nails for the first 10m or so (well worth stick-clipping the first bolt!) and then settles down into something more like the grade advertised!

El Ricard – more chilled after the crux!

In the foreground of the general crag shot (two above) the area of orange rock is home to half a dozen 6b to 7bs. I had a go at Ummagumma, a 30m 7a. The start is horrible on thin polished crimps and a couple of drilled pockets, but it’s worth persevering as the rest is very good, but with a lot of tough climbing – I managed all the moves but I was some way off putting the whole thing together.

Further right, Alpismo Virtual, 6a, and Epi y Blas, V+, both continued the theme of great climbing but hard-won. Here’s Helen on the latter.

Not the most productive day but a fabulous spot to spend a Sunday afternoon in the company of jolly local climbers and soaring vultures.

… and the view isn’t too shabby either.

Plenty more Escales sectors to come back for, including some by the water’s edge.

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