This story begins many years ago, in a time that I wasn’t even a project...or maybe I was, in the head of a couple who lived under a fascist political dictatorial regime.
This story begins in a time where climbing was a risky task, even more if one would think to climb in Spain. Still with closed borders in Europe, crossing the border to Spain was a privilege for only a few.
To climb in Portugal is a privilege that we can thank to the “Revolution of the Carnations”.
The story of this route begins in its name, “Liberdade 25” (“Freedom 25”). It began exactly 38 years ago, when the army forces overthrew the dictatorial regime and initiated the process that led to the establishment of the democratic regime in which we live today. 25th of April, 1974, the "Revolution of the Carnations ", the pursuit of freedom. History tells that on the revolution day, a florist in Lisbon began to distribute red carnations to the people, which offered them to the soldiers. The soldiers then placed those carnations in the pipes of their rifles.
At that time, the forces of the dictatorial regime that got deprived of military support did not resist. The population's adherence to the revolution was massive. The result was a peaceful revolution. Still, the bullets of the DGS (Security Forces at the time) claimed four lives in Lisbon.
Following this revolution, in Portugal was set the national holiday of 25th of April, the "Freedom Day".
An expressive sky.
Thirty-eight years later, in the precious morning of the 25th of April, under a gentle sun, we walked through the gorge “Garganta los Gaitanes” in El Chorro heading to the wall we decided to explore. More than 200 meters of vertical limestone with any climbing line, at least judging by all the research we did, corroborated by the lack of human remains on the wall as well as its bottom.
Yes, it's hard to believe that a wall with that dimension in a place as known as El Chorro has not been the scene of any climb. On the other hand, if we think of El Chorro essentially as a sport climbing arena with short approaches, it already starts to make sense.
After 40 minutes walking, and the decision on which direction to take in that sea of rock, we started the climb.
We choose the easy way, usually called "the classic route of the wall".
We followed a crack/dihedral that from below didn’t look more than grade IV. Well, the grade was indeed between V and 6a! The quality of the rock? Absolutely excellent! A pleasant surprise.
Two moments in the first pitches.
When we reached the platform we aimed for that day, we fixed 2 ropes and decided to get back the next day to complete the route. We already expected that the following day would be considerably longer. Not only because we needed to climb about 2/3 of the wall, but also because the pitches above no longer looked like a IV. Up there, the overhangs we could see made us assume that we would have a…labourious day.
Beginning and ending the second pitch.
To regain strength we decided to have dinner at the restaurant "El Kiosko." This restaurant deserves all the publicity that we can do. Good food, affordable, friendly service and in a fantastic location, right in front of the Guadalhorce reservoir dam. This place at the back of the walls is well worth a visit.
The hardest part of the climb...hard steps to digest!
The next day waking up was painful, we tried at 5:30 a.m., but we were only able to overcome the laziness by 6:00. Morning tasks, 40 minutes walking and there we were, in the great morning jumaring!
After yesterday’s dinner wine, nothing better than starting the day jumaring!
We had 5 pitches to climb. The first one, fast and easy. The second and the third a bit more demanding. Still, the ever constant presence of nice cracks and the fantastic quality of the rock, allowed rapid progression.
Funny pitch to start the second day. A more obvious line is hard to find!
Daniela on the fourth pitch. Down there, the railway that crosses the amazing tunnels of the gorge “los Gaitanes”.
Getting to the fifth belay.
Belay number 6, before the bolt (useful to rappel down)!
When we got to the end of the third pitch of the day (sixth belay of the line), just above our heads was a massive overhang… it looked hard. However, it was still 14:40, so we had enough time to open the two missing pitches. We decided to have a break for a fast sandwich and a good look. We then realized that we could overcome the difficulties by passing on the right-hand of that roof. Some steps of 6b and the problem was solved. Only in a short part of this pitch the rock was not so good. That, together with finding the best way, took us a bit more time than expected.
On the way to the overhangs.
"Open Sesame!" The secret door to overcome the great roof.
The “pig” flying slowly on its way to the top.
Daniela starting the nice seventh pitch. On her feet, the lonely bolt showing the sixth belay.
A bit more up on the seventh pitch.
Only one pitch left to climb and we were pretty excited. The certainty of stepping horizontal ground in daylight, with time to celebrate with a cold beer on the terrace of "El Kiosko" left us smiling.
Getting to the seventh belay.
The other side of the valley. The next day we would be up there taking some great photos!
However, as time went by, minutes, hours, our smiles were replaced by words that I do not dare to write. We were progressing slooooowwwwlyyyyy. Those last 30m took us about two hours! Difficult moves, no cracks, a fig tree on which the hauling line got stuck, it all came together to make that pitch a real slow conquer! On the way, 4 bolts were placed, a real record on the whole route!
Almost, almost starting the bolted aid-climbing.
At 19:00 we finally were at the top of the wall enjoying a magnificent view, but ... gone was the hope of having a beer in the sun! There was however hope to reach the car in daylight and get to the restaurant on time to have dinner.
Rappels after rappels got us on the ground by 20:50. 10 minutes to pack and off we go, running with our heavy packs down the gorge to get to the car in the dusky twilight, at 21:30. Yes, we arrived in time for dinner! If the day before we set up the tent by 21:45, at this same hour we arrived today at “El Kiosko”. No hurry anymore. We had that great feeling of “mission accomplished” and it was nice to think that the next day we would not hear the sound of the alarm clock.
Again on solid ground, celebrating with our close “friends”.
The next day we still enjoyed a nice line on the entrance of the gorge. Approach? 10 minutes!
Daniela on the day after our nice adventure.
"Freedom 25" is an evident line, the real “classic route of the wall”.
The quality of the rock ... perfect!