La Pedriza beta April 2011
45 mins from Madrid airport, roads generally easy to negotiate by Spain's appalling standards. Manzaneres El Real is the useful hub of the area.
Main La Pedriza entrance is very busy at weekends but quiet in the week. Arrive before 9am weekends or you won't get in and will face an extra hour's walk. Sunday slightly quieter early on but busy later.
El Tranco entrance is also very busy at weekends. There might be sneaky parking available for the brave / cunning, unless the police close the road. Again arrive early.
Alternatives: La Ermita El Boalo is impossible to find from book, check a map in advance. Placas De La Ermita is a valid option.
Most main areas are at least 20-30 mins walk, with many more distant crags, although a few areas are 10 mins. The lower paths are very good, the main difficulty of the approach depends on getting the right uphill path to the actual crags. Find them and the approaches are okay, miss them and double the approach time.
Accommodation is a bit awkward as there is no obvious hostel / cheap climber's hangout available (El Tranco is a cheap hotel, the park refuge is 40+ mins walk in the park), and the plethora of camping options often have difficult to find information on the internet. The general choices are:
Camping at E18-20 for 2 people plus car / night.
Campsite cabins at E50-55, sleeps 2-4 / night
Hotel rooms at E50-60 for double / night.
Camping El Ortigal - below El Tranco crags, very convenient, very busy and the Spanish-only owner is can be uninformative.
Camping La Fresneda - few km out of town, close but car useful, have cabins but got booked up.
Camping Pico De La Miel - 30 mins drive away, but en-route to limestone. Have dozens of cabins and bar with rubbish food but decent beer. Owner can speak English.
12 quickdraws, 60m rope. All crags we visited we fully bolted, also we never saw anyone carrying nor recommending trad kit so I assume many if not most of the other crags were bolted. There are a few good trad lines but nothing you wouldn't get in West Penwith. There is a colour-coded guide to the safety(?) of most routes, this did not seem to correspond to the bolt spacing nor anything obvious.
Shoes need to be tight to get most precision on the crystals AND loose for heel down rubber contact, also need to be soft and rounded for most sensitivity AND stiff and edgy for most support and solidity. Good luck.
If you're thinking of going you should know what it's about: lots of friction slabs, lots of crystal climbing, lots of single pitch, some multipitch, some steep stuff that's well worth seeking out as respite. Be warned the slab climbing is mis-graded and highly random.
Some might say the grades are sandbags / stiff / whatever. The reality is they are simply wrong, albeit usually consistently wrong. The grades are normally 2 full grades below what they should be, sometimes 3, occasionally 1 if you are lucky. E.g. A Pedriza 6a slab will feel AT LEAST like a F6b / E2 5c slab elsewhere. The steep climbs are usually only 1 grade below what they should be.
A lot of the park gets a lot of sun and the crags are exposed to all of it (and any wind). Early April it was 22-24 degrees in the local town and most of the time we had to seek shade. The rock dries quickly but there is no shelter from rain on the granite.
Canchos De Los Brezos: sun, fully bolted, 20 mins obvious approach, Sector Izquierdo can be runout, 60m rope.
Cancho Butron / Colina Hueca: shade unless sun is high, fully bolted, 25 mins obvious approach, narrow but comfy base, CB RHS has new direct lines.
Cancho De Los Muertos: shade and sun, fully bolted, 45 mins approach along river and up, path hard to find, direct ridge path from further parking would be gentler, great location at summit X-roads with steep climbing.
Muro Del Euro: early shade, fully bolted, 30 mins semi-obvious approach.
Risco De La Foca: late shade, fully bolted, easy 10 mins approach, steep routes at Placa Oeste debolted except F6c arete.
Quebrantaherraduras Inferior: shaded by trees, fully bolted, easy 10 mins approach, very busy, minor steep routes.
Placa De Las Nueve: sun, fully bolted, 20 mins okay approach, 60m rope useful.
El Indio / Risco De La Fuente: sun and shade, fully bolted, 20 minutes easy approach, bad rock on shady side of RDLF.
Patones specific beta April 2011
Local limestone is highly pocketed and good respite for the fingertips. PDLO is an essential visit in it's own right. Grades are usually a bit stiff but close to being right, some sandbags on shorter routes. Plenty of shade if needed. Easy road access heading East from the same motorway Junction that Pedriza is West from.
Ponton De La Oliva: sun and shade, very easy approach, no parking problems, Placas De Sol upwards was closed from middle parking, West side is a cool setting, East side is as good as any Euro-lime crag. 60m rope recommended.
Los Alcores: sun, easy approach, entirity of riverside crag is flooded, remaining upper tier crag is worst I've visited in Europe.
Canyon De Uceda: shade, rocky approach and some narrow ledges, not child-friendly, Sector Antonio Martin worth visiting, rest very short.