Camarasa – Sector Solarium

Our unexpected 4-day weather window of Roca Caliente in Los Pirineos came to an end, prompting the usual soul / app-searching. Without an obvious “grand beau temps” candidate amid a generally gloomy outlook across the whole of Spain, we relocated to the Lleida area where at least we’d be a bit lower altitude and further from the mountains.

We bought a copy of the excellent POD guide to the area soon after it was published in 2010 and made our first of many visits soon after, so we were expecting to be mostly revisiting crags (no great hardship, but we do like breaking new ground). Happily, there’s a copy of the 2019 3rd edition in the campsite reception, and we’ve cheekily borrowed it for the duration. An extra 140 pages opened up a whole bunch of new sectors to explore. Result!

From the perspective of the 1st Edition, Camarasa is a series of good but shady crags, easily accessed from the road to the hydroelectric station. As winter visitors, we’re rarely seeking shade, which is why I’d only visited once before in the company of Jake the Vampire! Link to that visit:

Camarasa

These crags are no longer easily accessed as there’s a barrier at the start of the road, but the good news is that they’re now complemented by a couple of extensive sunny sectors – the clue being in the name to the first of them: Solarium. In further approach / access news, whilst the crags are immediately above the C13, there’s no parking for quite some way in either direction. You either park on the far side of the dam and walk through a couple of tunnels or (as we did) by the side of the road in the direction of Balaguer – in which case you get a good view of the crags.

Whichever end you approach from it’s about a kilometer along the road, and either way you’re looking out for a cairn and a short, steep path from behind the armco barrier up onto the hillside – it’s just opposite the “put your lights on” sign south of the tunnel.

It’s a straightforward but precipitous path that weaves its way up to the level of the crag – you wouldn’t want to take your toddler! The first routes you come to are not the best – here’s Helen warming up on Trolls, a complete sandbag at V, but pleasant enough moves after a desperate start.

Things rapidly improve as you head left – here’s a well-decked-out climber on Shagrat, 7a+.

I had a really good battle with Helter-Skelter, 7a, which takes a sinuous corner crack – annoying to slip off as it should have been right up my street.

No such mistake with Diedro Dubai, a much easier 35m 7a up a huge corner system accessed by a short steep wall. This shares a loweroff with Autocaravana de Mujeres (women’s campervan), 6c+, and Helen couldn’t resist taking the top rope…

Steep cracky start
Thin, pockety central section
Finale up the wide corner crack shared with Diedro Dubai

The bulk of Diedro Dubai is also shared with Galio, 7b+/c, which breaks out rightwards for a very steep last 10m. Here’s a French lad on a redpoint attempt (the crag was full of French teams!)

With the sun moving behind the crag, all of a sudden it wasn’t so much of a Solarium, but Helen kindly indulged me with a final belay on The Riddler, 7a and a much stiffer proposition. Hard, steep pocket pulling from the off eases a little (bigger pockets and a bit less steep) until it all gets tricky again for the last 10m. Outstanding! There’s loads more to come back for, and the adjacent La Cova de L’Escalete looks just as good!

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