Trip Report
Spring fun in Spain, with some climbing too!
Sunday April 1, 2012 4:13pm
After four days of business & fun in Switzerland, that was mostly paid for by an employer: Heidi & I flew to Madrid, Spain from Zurich.

We hiked around seeing historic urban attractions our first afternoon, then found a busy & inexpensive Tapas bar that night for dinner. Dinner the previous night in Zurich set us back $130.00, and our night of Tapas and Rioja wine in Madrid cost about $30.00.

Despite Heidi's & my limited command of Spanish, we did fine with friendly waiters and the locals that crowded the bar. Most of the patrons appeared to live in the neighborhood and many were even older (mas viejo) than me. No smoking rules in Madrid bars & resturants was a plus for us.
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Our first full day in Madrid: we toured the Prado Art Museum, which has an incredible collection of "old Masters" paintings, hiked around the Botanical Park, and then late afternoon took in a traveling art exhibit from The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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The next morning we took the Metro (subway) to the north-side of Madrid and then took a bus 30 kilometers North to Manzanares El Real. Great little town, with its own castle, large lake, and famous climbing area.
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Our friends Manolo & Francesca, that we met last summer at City of Rocks, live there. We got the joy of being their guests for two nights, and the fun of climbing with them for two days at their nearby famous climbing area named La Pedriza, in the Cuenca Alta del Manzanares Regional Park.

It is one of the largest granitic ranges of Europe and holds numerous peaks, rocky cliffs, streams and meadows. Nearly a thousand routes of all difficulties are available to rock climbers. Hiking is also popular in La Pedriza, especially on weekends, since the area is so close to Madrid.

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Day 1, we hiked a considerable distance up to the base of the rocks at top of photo and climbed a famous route on the biggest one at center right. Cancho de los Muertos 5.7 (the ledge of the dead).

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Left to right, Manolo, Francesca, and his old climbing buddy visiting from Venezuela, Ewaldo.

More to follow!

The next day we hiked up 2,000 vertical feet to El Yelmo (the helmet) which is the dominant dome above Manzanares El Real.
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El Yermo at top left, from Manolo & Francisca's house in Manzanares.

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That night Manolo & Francesca made a huge Paella for dinner on their much-loved back-yard patio. Various climbing & non-climbing friends showed up for dinner, including an American, who teaches English in a local school.
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During our visit, we discovered that Manolo is well respected and popular in the local climbing community. He works for the city of Manzanares as a climbing instructor and also runs nature hikes for students. His young friend Daniel is an aspiring Cinematographer, and we just missed the local premier of his movie about Manolo: El Flaco: Anonymous Portrait of a Mountaineer. Manolo emigrated to Spain from Venezuela in 1980, but later authored a guide to the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Venezuela. Here's a link to the youtube movie preview.

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Gifts from Manolo & Daniel.

Manolo & Francesca were wonderful hosts and we had a great time, but we left for other urban adventures after only two days. We were both sore from the long approaches and the climbing, so I don't think we would have enjoyed a 3rd day of climbing.

The rest of our Spanish adventures don't measure up to the first 4 days and mostly involve a government workers strike, a cancelled flight back to Zurich, and getting out of town one day early to miss the main strike-day which caused our cancelled flight.

Ah, adventure!

  Trip Report Views: 2,050
About the Author
Fritz is a trad climber from Choss Creek, ID.

Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Apr 1, 2012 - 04:28pm PT
Nice Fritz, La Pedriza looks a lot like the city!

Trad climber
Carson City, NV
  Apr 1, 2012 - 04:29pm PT
I wanna go! Looks killer, Making notes, thanks Fritz!

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Apr 1, 2012 - 06:09pm PT
Hijo mio, un culito brasileño!* Yo lo quiero!

Man, last time I was in Madrid the word 'cheap' had not made it into
their lexicon. But that was before they became Greece-in-waiting.
Smoking was still allowed so we always ate outside in order to survive.

Fritz, good on you to tough it out!

But at least I manned up and rolled in the locals' style:

*Rather a contradiction in terms given what they're selling.

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Author's Reply  Apr 1, 2012 - 07:57pm PT
Thanks for the comments!

Reilly: we had to do some looking to find cheap food & drinks in the touristy part of Madrid.

Heidi believes crowded bars are fun places, and the crowd sucked us into El Museo De Jamon. When we wriggled to the bar, the specials sign was kinda unbelievable. A glass of wine, beer, or small bottle of water were each 1.0 Euro, and a Jamon slice on a Hogie roll, along with some other sandwiches, were also 1.0 Euro.

The wine was good, and we were served more free appetizers with each round. If we hadn't got tired of standing: dinner and drinks would have been absurdly cheap. Sitting down and having a shrimp salad kicked the price up.


Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Apr 1, 2012 - 08:38pm PT
Super, Fritz, thanks!

I haven't been to Spain yet and my most recent "fantasy trip" involves a winter trip there to soak up the culture and then do some sport climbing on the Costa Blanca. So far I've read tourist guidebook for Spain and also gotten a copy of a climbing guidebook for the coast. Now all I need are a lot more miles in my frequent flyer account for the ticket!

Trad climber
Nor Cal
  Apr 1, 2012 - 11:04pm PT
So very nice thanks for posting this. I want to go to Spain even more now.
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
  Apr 2, 2012 - 10:07am PT
Sweet working vacation. A great break from the bleakness of Idaho in March.

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  Apr 2, 2012 - 10:12am PT
Pictures! We. Want. More!

Great report, Fritz! Enjoyed seeing some pictures of Manolo and Francesca in action.

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Author's Reply  Apr 2, 2012 - 08:04pm PT
Thanks all for positive comments. We do try to have some fun.

I'll see if I have more "worthy" photos to share.

Hankster! I noticed you and the "hot-wife" were off to Spain and secretly hoped to bump into you folks. Loved your photos and want you to post more too in the Riglos thread.

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Author's Reply  Apr 3, 2012 - 09:15am PT

Here's a few more photos of our Spanish adventure.

Our Madrid "Tourist-district" hotel was closely adjacent to a large and popular square: "Puerto Del Sol." Our first night in town was a Friday, and we expected lots of tourists and young folks to be in the square. There were lots of older, and very old residents as well, doing the Friday night walk around the square.

Friday night in Puerto Del Sol, besides Lucifer and other one-man shows, there was a hot Mariachi Band, and a group of young hipsters doing “Break-dancing.” Saturday night, a band was playing Beetles songs. Donations for all entertainment were optional, but much appreciated.


This is a climbing story site!

I was totally astounded by the big group of Spanish Ibex we ran into. They all stayed nearly frozen in place as we hiked past.

From left to right, Manolo,Daniel,& Ewaldo at the summit of El Yelmo. Manolo & Ewaldo have been climbing buddies for more than 30 years and both still climb beautifully.

Both Ewaldo & Daniel were a joy to befriend and climb with, and of course: Manolo & Francisca were the perfect hosts for us.