Olvena

Now that’s a crag I bet you’ve never heard of. Olvena is a very typical Spanish crag, perched above a gorge about a mile outside the village of the same name. Immediately above the road, a ridge of limestone heads up the hillside, turning from grey slabs to a steeper orange tower.

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A short thrash through wild rosemary and thyme, plus prickly pear, bramble and other spikey undergrowth, brings you to the foot of the crag. We haven’t got a guidebook (often hard to find and anyway, can you imagine how many we’d need! ) so we start eyeballing bolt lines to guess grades and quality. Occasional painted names on the rock offer the possibility of later identification – if Google is up to the challenge. …

After a couple of warm ups on the slabs we turn our attention to the orange stuff and I end up doing a bit of weaving to avoid a particularly tricky bulge in the steep wall. Next it’s the soaring crack in the wall to the left. All very pleasant routes, and time for a lunch break.

Left again an ancient chain bolt hanger and the name “Cristina” mark the start of our next objective – a steep bulging groove giving access to the soaring 30m arête that marks the left of the big grey wall. What a belter! Tiny fingery holds and sustained bridging get you through the bulge and onto the arête proper, which looks blank from below but yields surprising finger-sized slots at 3ft intervals, just where you want them. By now we’ve been joined by a Spanish team and they point at the route “bonita?”. “Si, me encantada” I reply in my limited Spanish.

It can be pretty frustrating, and occasionally scary, operating without a topo, but it’s sometimes fun to discover a 3* classic without being pointed at it by Rockfax – especially as you’ve got the crag almost to yourselves, rather than having to form an orderly queue.

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2 responses to “Olvena

  1. hi, just back from Lleida, not climbing but doing sme walking. Wish the club had a way of sharing where people might be rather than after theyve been. Just where are all the camper vans going to be in the winter.
    I was probably only about amile or so away from where you were climbing – it all looks very challenging.
    Good luck with the rest of your trip.
    Pete Shortt

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