It is probably the southern most sport climbing spot of continental Europe. Despite it is not a big climbing site full with many famous routes, the simplicity of its proposed routes, the easiness of its access and comfort of the place, the good quality of the rocks and equipment, the excellent weather almost all year round and, especially, the incredible scenery and location of the crag, next to the picturesque village of Tarifa, the cool and beautiful Punta Paloma Beach, the Straight of Gibraltar and the views of the north coast of Morocco make worth a visit to this crag. Therefore, San Bartolo is the best known climbing spot of the whole Cádiz province.
There is a very international ambient in this place. Next to the locals, many visitors from Europe come over this place attracted by a promise of holiday with good windsurfing and/or kite-surfing, beach, sun and fun. This all in a location of natural beauty in one of the most special places of Europe, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, where Africa meets Europe.
Coming from Tarifa village, at the very Straight of Gibraltar, go to the NW over the N-340 direction Cádiz for over 11 km. ½ km after have passed(to the left) the famous and exotic beach of Punta Paloma(with its impressive sand dune), at km point 72 there is a road to the left with a sign of ‘Prohibido el paso. Zona Militar ’ (forbidden to trepass. Militar area). Two wite painted big pillars, each one at each side of the entrance of the road, is a unmistaken feature. Just ignore the signs of forbidden to trepass and drive this road for about three kilometres. At the only main cross point go right (a sign indicates 'Betis 1.5 km) and drive for some hundreds of meters till you find a bad road to the left, just before entering the area with houses. Shortly you will arrive to a parking place (Way Point 36° 05’ 15’’ N ~ 5° 42’ 56’’ W).
From the parking a path goes into a meadow and up into the forest of eucaliptus trees. After less than ten minutes walking up with southern bearing we will arrive at the crags ‘Mariano’ (at the ‘Zona de Arriba’ or ‘upper area’), one of the climbing spots of the place.
General Features of the CragThere are 280 routes, with a middle height of 20 mtrs (maximum height is 90 mtrs).
The most of them are thought for sport climbing, but there are some trad climbing routes as well. Lately it is becoming a very popular boulder zone too, with more than 30 problems so far.
The climbing is on hard sandstone lying walls and overhangs, where good technique of foot placement, equilibrium and adherence is necessary. The most of the routes are good equipped with trustable anchors. Far from continuity, the short routes ask for an explosive and technique exercise.
Some sectors are under the shadow. Some other are under the sun. The area of the Straight of Gibraltar can be very windy.
DISTRIBUTION OF THE CLIMBING SPOTS
There are two main areas: “Zona de Arriba” and “Tajo del Búho”
In “Zona de Arriba” there are different spots:
1. Los Cernícalos (S) Lying wall with outcrops of sandstone. Easy.
2. El Cancho (W) Upside down flat layers form an almost vertical wall. Not too difficult but adherence climbing.
3. La Habitación (S & N) Two walls parallel one in front of the other. Pared del Sol is a lying easy wall. The Pared de Dandy a difficult overhang flat wall.
4. Los Alcornocales (N)
5. Mariano (N)
6. Vudu (N)
7. Los Buitres (N)
8. La Armónica (N)
9. Jardín Erótico (NW)
10. Los Bloques (NW)
11. Las Placas Grandes (S)
In “Tajo del Búho” there are the following rocks:
1. Los Bordillos (S)
2. Arapiles (S)
3. Mosaico (SE) The best known sector of the crag.
4. Isla del Tesoro (N)
5. El Panal (NW)
LEVEL OF THE ROUTES:
till V 30%
from V+ till 6c+ 40%
from 7a till 7c+ 25%
Red TapeEquipment of new routes (opening new routes) is not allowed.
CampingThis crag is in the Natural Park of the Estrecho, therefore it is a protected area where camping and bivouac is forbidden. The only place where so far tents are allowed is at the parking place.
Anyway, there are plenty of sleeping accommodations in Tarifa (highly recommended village for après climbing activities…) and the campings around the beach of Punta Paloma.
Guía de Escalada en San Bartolo. A classic book (difficult to find) written by David Munilla, edited by the Andalusian Federation (FAM) in 1998.
Escalar en Cádiz
Escalar en el Campo de Gibraltar
Several articles in the climbing magazine ‘Desnivel’ (nrs. 37, 156, 185 and 234)