Climbing in Spain - Rodellar


12 min. 06. 01. 24

“Un pequeño paraíso” - little paradise on earth. Valley located in the Spanish province of Huesca. The main climbing epicenter is located close to small village Rodellar.

David (left) and Prudence (right) together in front of their favourite sector Gran Boveda

Two main valleys: Mascun and Barrasil. Both offer amazing sport climbing on endless tufas full of big physical moves and countless drop-knees. The rock is made up of limestone and the routes are mega-long with big jugs, but they will exhaust you and throw you off on a crimpy section that probably waits at top of the most routes!

The area will be introduced by two Rafiki ambassadors living in Spain for a long time: Prudence Morgan Wood, a climber from Dover who left England for Spain one day and never returned, and her life and climbing partner David Zarco Vila

David Zarco Villa in the Pequeño Paraiso sector, Rodellar
David Zarco Villa in the Pequeño Paraiso sector, Rodellar

Why Rodellar? Why “un pequeño paraíso”? What makes this place so unique for both of you, guys?

Prudence & David: Rodellar is quite unique place because it has a combination of so many things! We love the style of the local routes, then the rivers and the natural pools, the wild surroundings and generally holiday feeling about this place. Once you arrive, you don’t have to move your van and we love it, because it’s a place where you can completely disconnect or "reconnect with a life" again.

Amazing sport climbing on endlessly long tufas, full of challenging physical moves and hundreds of "drop-knees"...

Prudence, how did you end up from Britain in Spain? The British "Peak District" didn't satisfy your climbing needs? And you, David, where are you from and where does your roots belong to?

Prudence: I moved to France with my parents when I was 12 years old and then I went to university in Girona (Catalunya) where I met David and fell in love (with him) and with the rock and sport climbing opportunities here! I have never climbed in the Peak District and actually the only outdoor rock climbing I have done in the UK was in Wintour’s Leap but I doubt if anyone knows where that is! (she laughs)

David: I was born in a small town on the Costa Brava in Catalunya and therefore my roots are a mixture between Catalunya and the south of Spain – Andalucia.

David with Prudence in front of La Piscineta sector, Rodellar

We often call it "Rodillar" (in Spanish = knee), because in almost every route you will find hundreds of "knee-bars"

What do you love the most about imestone climbing? I personally think that sport climbs on limestone are only for experienced "smashing-type" climbers. And I miss a bit of adventure like in the big mountains or sandstone climbs. What is your point of view?

Prudence: When climbing on limestone I definitely love the knee-bars the most! Limestone creates tufa formations and especially Rodellar has a lot of tufas! In a fact we tend to refer to it as “Rodillar” (means knee in Spanish). The knee-bars you can find there are mega! I often succeed in finding a “no-hand rest” in every route which I try! I also find the overhanging routes in Rodellar pretty adventurous, especially the 40 or 50 meter long marathons! 

David: What I love the most is being able to push myself to my physical limits when I’m trying a route of my maximum grade! I do agree that sport climbing might lack a bit of adventure, but there are plenty of limestone climbs in the mountains that certainly offers an adventure!

David climbs and laughs in the jug of route "Florida L1" 8a+, sector Surgencia, Rodellar

You will always find routes both on sun and in the shade. Just depends on your personal preferences...

I've heard there are natural pools close to the climbing cliffs and great swimming here! Can you reveal us your favourite spots?

Prudence: There are natural pools all along the two rivers that run between the main valleys in Rodellar. You can really take your pick! The ones closer to the Surgencia (which means “natural spring” in Spanish) are colder and the ones further downstream tend to be slightly warmer. My favourite is a particular pool that gets the sun in the afternoon and so when you finish with climbing you can go for a swim and the water is still nice and warm even after the sun has gone down! From this place you can see the Gran Boveda sector.

David: One of my favourite sectors is called La Piscineta (means “little swimming pool”) because underneath there is a big natural pool and when you lowering off, some routes even ends straight in the water! Sometimes you have to take your harness off if you don’t want to get it soaked! (he laughs)

Our very professional kayak equipment!

If you are looking for a drinking water, natural spring is the best place to replenish the necessary fluid reserves.

When to go there? Which months are the best for climbing? Is Rodellar overcrowded place during peak season?

David: The best months for climbing are before and after the summer, especially September and October are pretty good climbing months as long as there hasn’t been too much rain.

Prudence: That said there tends to be a lot more people during summer when the various activities in the canyon cross-overs like hiking, canyoning, horse riding, via ferrata and many more…

Rafiki overload with friends in the Mascun campsite

The valleys and Rodellar cliffs offer many other activities such as canyoning, stargazing and via ferratas. You can find out more information at either campsites, hotels or local bars. Climbing guidebooks can be bought at the Kalandraka refugio and at the local campsites. In addition, you can rent canyoning equipment and meet with various local guides.

Rodellar itself is quite a small village, so if you need to buy food or water, there is a small shop at the campsite, but that's about it. However, there is a natural water source down in the valley and few fountains may be found in the village. If you are looking for a drinking water, the natural spring in the valley is the best place to refill! Unfortunately, the fountains in the village can be polluted and contaminated sometimes.

David climbs a route "La Kanabica" 8a+ in Gran Boveda sector
David climbs a route "La Kanabica" 8a+ in Gran Boveda sector

Are the local climbing sectors suitable for beginners or for more experienced climbers? What difficulty do I need to climb to get a good session there? Is Rodellar "baby friendly" destination?

David: The difficulty of the routes here ranges from fives to nines (French classification). But I personally think, that if you want to enjoy climbing in Rodellar and have a fun on tufas, it is better to climb between the 7th and 8th level of the French classification.

Prudence: Rodellar is definitely great area for families with children! During the "rest-days" you can engage in many activities here, and as for the sectors, I would say that they are all "kids friendly". You just need to watch out for the occasional falling tufas or some holds, so I would recommend all children and babies to wear helmets under the rocks!

And if climbing isn't really for them, they can happily spend the day in the natural lakes and "beaches" scattered all around! You will often see groups of school children here who have climbing camps, so the sectors are very pleasant and comfortable here in Rodellar...

Prudence in flip-flops overlooking climbing lines in "La Piscineta" sector, Rodellar

Best campsite? Some kind of CAMP4 like in Yosemite? Spain is known for its relaxed and "chill out" atmosphere.

How do the locals approach to climbers or sleeping in a van? Have you experienced any inconvenience?

Prudence: Rodellar is located in a protected nature reserve, so free camping is prohibited...well, if caught by the rangers, you will of course be heavily fined. Because of these potential nuisance issues, I can't think of any campsites…

David: There are many accommodation options in Rodellar. There are two campsites: Mascun and El Puente , then also the hotel and refugio Kalandraka . There are several options for accommodation in the town via AirBnB. So you can adapt to your specific price range and the best thing is that everything is really close to the climbing sectors, so you don't have to move your car or van if you don't want to… (he laughs)

David is testing the lightweight and breathable Rafiki HOODY TRAVERSE, Rodellar
David on the wall and behind him another sector "Museo"

Golden Question: your tips for the best climbing sectors and lines? One easier and one more harder area?

Prudence: It’s so hard to choose! There are so many great sectors! I have to say I love the adventure of going to La Piscineta, because you have to go by a boat up a 500ish metre stretch of river and then walk up stream a further 20 minutes or so to get to it! After that you have to wade along the river or jump over the rocks. There is also another path from the Mascun Valley, but we have been told that it’s fairly difficult to find it and let’s face: the boat is much more fun! Well, I am saying “the boat”, but in our case it’s a “kids blow-up beach dingy”! (she laughs realy hard)

There are not many routes in this sector, but all the ones I have tried are absolutely great! I would recommend “Pim Pam Pluf” 7b+ or “Pieds nus dans la terre sacrée” 8a. Surgencia is also another impressive sector! There is a natural water source that you can fill up water and views from the wall are just immense! “No Limit” 7c+, “Coco Loco” 7a+ and “Olympia” 8b are stellar routes and my top picks!

David: I think that my favourite sector is Las Ventanas. It’s a big sector with huge range of routes and grades. As for routes I would recommend “No Bouchon Spirit” 7c+ in Las Ventanas and “Roxy la Palmera” 6b+ in the Criminal Tango sector. Gran Boveda is another incredible sector and you can find here one of the longest routes in Rodellar, “Coliseum” 8a with its 40 meters height!  

Have you ever met any professional or other world-famous climbers in Rodellar?

David: Lots! Few of them come to the Rodellar Climbing Festival and then stay for a week or so to climb afterwards. But pretty much through the entire year you may be climbing alongside professional climbers. Some come in the summer for the holiday vibes and then others come before or after summer, to get the best conditions for trying hard projects.

Prudence: To be honest this is one of the things I love the most about our sport! You can very easily meet one of your biggest idols climbing in the same sector, right next to you...

Any practical info to help climbers who haven't been in Rodellar yet? Your "know-how" and tips&tricks?

David: The shops are very limited here, so if you want to stay for a while, it’s better to buy stocks in one of the bigger cities before arriving. There are small shops in the campsites and in the hotel, but the choice is rather very limited and fairly expensive. I would also highly recommend purchasing one or even two knee pads. ;)

Prudence: As I said before you can fill up water at the natural source near Surgencia, the water from the village fountains can often cause upset of your stomachs. July and August are great months for “social climbing” but if you want the best conditions it’s better to avoid these months. The routes are very physical, so get ready for the incredible pump!

Prudence in "Kings of Metal L1" 7c+, Las Ventanas crag

Prudence & David's TICK-LIST of things ,
you have to experience in Rodellar!

1) swimming in natural pools and lakes

2) climbing sectors: Gran Bovéda , Las Ventanas , Surgencia and La Piscineta

3) the famous lasagna from the Refugio Kalandrake kitchen!

Is there anything else you would like to share with Rafiki readers? Tell them something more?

Prudence: You can buy a climbing guide at the hotel, campsites and also at the LaSportiva store. You can even download the PDF version for free on the Kalandraka refugia website. It doesn't have all the routes, but it will definitely give you a good idea where to start in local crags...

David: Rodellar is all about having a hell lot of fun there!

"As you chalk, you climb!"

Thank you both for this interview and I wish you a great times spent climbing in Rodellar or anywhere else in sunny Spain!


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