Las Frontales - El Chorro

Running on the moors above Malham, between sudden showers of hail and amongst the low limestone cliffs whose smooth walls were briefly illuminated by the low sun, I was reminded of a trip to the south of Spain. We had arrived at the end of a rare cold spell which saw children gathering carrier bags of snow in the streets to take home - such was the novelty.
For my part, the novelty of these rugged slopes and dramatic cliffs beneath cobalt skies was equally enthralling and I was enchanted by the small town in which we stayed. In the morning, I would take a pot of fresh coffee and sit above the terracotta roof tops, watching the town awake. 
Once, a small procession of women, dressed completely in black, passed beneath, climbing the steep, narrow and unevenly stepped streets leading into the hills; I was told later that all were widows of local men executed or killed during the Francoist regime.
It was an eye opening trip in many ways although my attention was taken primarily by the seemingly unending steep limestone cliffs...
Las Frontales and El Chorro were around an hour's drive south-east from the town and as something of a mecca for sport climbers, one or two visits at least were assured. Our first view of the impressive and not a little daunting walls was from across the reservoir...
...looking towards the gorge and the remains of the walkway, Camino del Ray, constructed by the King (Alfonso X111) to view the engineering work of his subjects in the 1920s.
Andi, high above the gorge and looking relieved to reach the next bolt - we climbed throughout the increasingly hot afternoon, sharing strawberries with local climbers before the sun sank and the temperature plummeted.
Back in the mountains, snow was falling once again and we explored the rugged hills above the villa...
...finding cactus covered in fresh wet snow seemed strange...
...and I was struck by the colours of trees on the lower slopes, stripped of bark.
The sun returned soon enough and the climbing resumed as we explored the vast limestone walls hereabouts...
...along with a few isolated pinnacles catching the last of the day's light, before a last minute dash to the airport.
Within a few hours of roping down from the summit of that isolated pinnacle in the mountains of Andalusia, we were back in the early morning freezing fog of London, due to start work in just a few hours more.

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