Several MKMC club members headed off to Costa Blanca for a spot of climbing. The team: Car 1 – Richard, Car 2 – Iain, Owen, Abu, Car 3 – Bob, Alex, Wayne, Marc, Car 4 – Tony, Rachel, Lydia Car 5 – Ian, Mac, Alan
Saturday 5th October – We landed at Alicante on the Costa Blanca, and once out of the air conditioned airport we were met by a blast of warm air. We’d arrived, and as Tony put it in one of his posters on facebook, “They came to crush!” Somewhere between collecting our baggage and picking up the various hire cars, communications between groups broke down. While most people went to get some routes done at Sella, Ian, Mac and myself went to Calp. All was not lost as we did a couple of very nice routes at Sierra de Toix. The limestone was sharp and holds positive and we had glorious views of the Penon. We took plenty of bottled water and managed to stave off the effects of dehydration. By night fall we arrived at the villa, and met up with the others. The landlord (who claimed to be a policeman) gave us the keys and we were soon settled in. [Routes. Sierra de Toix: Purpureo * 5 Winter ** 6a]
Sunday 6th October – The excitement of arriving at Calp resulted in a late start to the day; something to do with the fact that many people didn’t go to bed until the small hours. When eventually we did get off we all went to Sierra de Toix (the opposite side from where I’d climbed yesterday). I climbed with Abu, but there were some routes we couldn’t do as we’d only got a 50 metre rope. (Note for next time – a 60 or 70 metre rope would be useful). Another very hot day. [Routes. Sierra de Toix: Renov *** 4+, 5 Manual Andres ** 5, 6a 4 you ** 6a Heaven is .. ** 5+ Steinbeisser * 6a]
Monday 7th October – A slightly earlier start, and the last full day for Richard, Iain, Owen and Abu, as they had to fly back on Tuesday. Our destination – Echo Valley. I climbed with Mac all day, and we found a lovely little crag – Paret de la Bassa. The hardest route was only 6a+ and the rock was perfect in every way. The others headed further up the valley for some ‘extreme’ routes. There was a short shower in the afternoon, but the rock was so warm that any moisture soon evaporated. [Routes. Echo Valley – Paret de la Bassa: Basillus ** 5a Follaora * 5 Playboy * 6a Clitoris salrane * 6a Arandelon * 6a Tas kedao sin birra * 5+ Tris Tras Trus * 6a Coco ** 6a+]
Tuesday 8th October – Sella – probably the most popular area in the Costa Blanca, and with the polish to prove it! The 3 routes that I did before rain stopped play were all excellent. Once the rain did arrive it did not abate, so we abandoned the climbing in favour of drinking coffee in a bar in the town. While we were there, two teams, enthusiastically supported by most of the town folk, engaged in a rather unusual game of handball. The object of the game seemed to be to hit a small ball (about the size of a squash ball) from one end of the street to the other. The team which hit the ball the furthest without it being returned gained a point. The team with the most points won. Under the circumstances the spectacle made an interesting diversion. [Routes. Sella: Desbloquea que No * 5 Perlita * 5+ Martxa d’aci *** 6a]
Wednesday 9th October – The group had talked about a rest day, but this was definitely not it. The Bernia Ridge was our goal, and the guide book had said to allow 5 – 10 hours for the round trip. Seven of us had elected to do this, but as circumstances turned out it was only 5 of us who completed it. Bob, Alex, Tony and Rachel set off from the villa, while Ian, Mac and myself hunted for the car keys. Half an hour later they were found, and we set off. As we walked along the approach path to the start of the ridge we came across Tony and Rachel. Unfortunately for Rachel she had twisted her ankle and was unable to go any further. The guide book directed us to go to a hole which goes right through the ridge. It didn’t tell us to go through the hole, but that’s what we did, and lost another half an hour in the process. Never-the-less it was an interesting feature and worth investigating. Back on track we scrambled up to the East col, and then it was just a matter of following the painted red dots that showed the route. The views from the ridge were fantastic, and apart from a brief rain shower as we approached the summit, the weather was perfect. The ridge involves a short section of climbing, an abseil and some scrambling, and after around 7 hours we had completed the traverse. Back at the villa the others had had a more relaxing day. Their goal had been to traverse the slack line stretched across the pool combined with a spot of sun bathing. [Route. The Bernia Ridge *** 4+]
Thursday 10th October – We discovered a quiet ‘little’ crag to climb at L’Ocaive, situated to the North of Calp. From a distance the crag looked rather vegetated, but weaving between the greenery were some lovely routes; clean and positive. Higher up the crag were some more testing lines, so there was something to keep everyone happy. [Routes. L’Ocaive: El Bordillo de ilustro 4 Ocaive placas * 4+ Cuerpo mujer ** 6a La esquina asesina ** 6a Aluncina con la esquina * 5a El grajo del carajo * 6b Amparito, no me toques ** 6a+ Hombres de papel * 6a No t’as veras ** 6a+]
Friday 11th October – Deidro UBSA at the Penon was Friday’s route. I love multi pitch climbing, so for me this was the high-light of the week. Mac, Ian and myself left the villa at approx 8:30 and we walked to Penon de Ifach. With Mac happy to second, Ian and myself did alternate leads, and we were soon established in a routine. After the initial scramble there followed 4 pitches climbing a groove / corner. Then came a face climb which led up to the large cave. From here we abseiled to a ledge before traversing left into the corner of “Pirates”. A final pitch led to the top, and magnificent views of Calp. The descent path (once we’d found the right one) was straight forward, although you could almost see your reflection in the rocks underfoot. [Route. Deidro UBSA *** 5+]
Saturday 12th October – Our last day of climbing. It took about an hour to drive from Calp to Guadalest, a major tourist magnet, but fortunately the nearby rocks were relatively quiet. It was hot, and after 3 great routes I headed off to town to join the grockles. With presents to buy I shuffled around the shops hoping to be inspired. The last supper of the holiday was at our regular pizzeria, Asador de Pollos. As usual, the food and service was good, and we retired to the villa suitably refuelled. [Routes. Guadalest: Margallo ** 6a+ Garrofer ** 6a+ Ron con porros ** 6b]
Sunday 13th October – We had an early start in order to catch our flight from Alicante at 10:15. There were no hitches, and we arrived back at a cold and wet Luton airport shortly after mid day. Climbing in Spain at this time of year is definitely the way to go!
Nice report Alan, I’m so glad at least one of us is eloquent enough to put some words together about our exploits!
Can’t wait to go back.