Thursday, July 3, 2008

El Chorro - a scarry challenge

Bike rides often took me out to, and past, Garganta del Chorro (El Chorro George), about 40km from Antequera. It's an area pretty awe inspiring with four hundred metre high rock walls , world famous for rock climbing. The george is a 3km long cleft cut through the limestone.

But as you look up at the entrance, you are obviously drawn to the concrete catwalk that hugs the wall. It threads the length of the george, crossing from one side to the other. It is one metre wide, sits 200 metres vertically above the river, and is an access to one of the top climbing areas known as Makinodroma.)

It was originally built as an acess to a hydro-electric scheme, taking four years to complete, opened in 1905. It was walked by the King (Alfonso XIII) at the opening of Conde de Guadalhorce (The Guadalhorce dam). Hence its current name, El Camino del Rey (the King's Pathway) - some call it the caminito, little pathway.

Even though the entrance to it looks like it has been removed, the walk was officially closed when four people were killed in 1999 and 2000, I used wonder at the possibility of being able to access it. The Junta de Andalucía approved 7 million Euros for improvements in 2006, but no sign of any work appears yet. A climbing company's guides will take you along, I understand, but I don't know the cost (yet).

Coincidentally, a workmate from Wellington, Gordon, emailed me the following link (under the title 'Virtual Vertigo') which displays how tricky it is. Notice that there is a safety rope that this guy doesn't appear to use as he passes others. I started to have second thoughts about wanting to do it.

But, this second site displays what I'd probably be like trying to get around some of the broken down corners. I'm not sure I'm up to it. What about some of those bridge crossings where there doesn't appear to be a safety line?

Then to make you really nervous, take a lok at this young lady walking it, un-clipped, stopping to take photos, etc. That made me feel really queasy.

On one trip past, sightseeing in a car, there were actually some people up on the bridge. I think I'd like to believe I could pluck up the courage. Not sure if I can. But it won't be this time, as time runs out. When we come back next time, perhaps. Maybe the Junta will have spent the 7 million Euro, and it will be much safer.

But what's life without a bit of excitement?

aka Max

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