Oliana in Spain has recently become the world’s number one crag for hard sport climbing. It is very well known abroad, especially since the story of ‘La Dura Dura’ was featured in Reel Rock. Chris Sharma’s great project was first realised by Adam Ondra and then quickly repeated by Sharma. The climbers agreed on the unimaginable grade of 9b+.
Oliana is just one very long cliff with possibly the world’s highest concentration of very hard routes. Most of the climbs are of great quality and Oliana is a popular destination for the globe’s strongest, most ambitious sport climbers. It is a tall (up to 50 metres), increasingly overhanging cliff of solid limestone, with around 30 routes from f7a to 9b+. Bear in mind that there are not many easy sevens to tick and after warming up you will have to move on to harder grades. Oliana style is incredibly stamina intense and sustained, but the moves are often athletic. You will climb on insanely long tufas and big pockets, as well as some crimps. Climbing in Oliana is truly fantastic but to really appreciate the cliff you need to be able to climb at least around f8a.
If Oliana’s routes feel too hard for you, there is plenty to choose from nearby. In the area you can find crags of all types: sport climbing (from f5 up), sandstone bouldering, and even some multi-pitch classics. On top of that, apart from the main Oliana sector of Contrafort de Rumbau, there are now some low to mid-grade climb options in La Paret de l’Obaga Negra, which offers slabs and vertical routes which are well worth trying.
The best time to go climbing in Oliana is winter, although the weather is quite unpredictable. The crag is in the sun from the morning until about 4pm or 5pm, depending on the line you choose. You must take into account that it often takes a long time before the morning fog disappears, and in the evening, as soon as the wall gets in the shade it gets too cold. On colder autumn and spring days you might get good climbing conditions too, but midday sun gets very strong.
Oliana is situated about ninety kilometres north of Lleida. The crag itself is perched very close to the Oliana village but you will need a car to get there. There are small hotels and guesthouses in Oliana and in the nearby villages. Winter nights get very cold and you will appreciate a good shelter.