Costa Blanca - February 27th-March 13th 2005

Sunday 27th: Deirdre, Philip, Andy and I flew out from Leeds-Bradford to Alicante and found the Benidorm supermarket closed - an excellent reason to visit the Moli II for a meal!

Monday 28th: Waking to a cold and rainy day We were amazed to see snow falling over the mountains... up the Sella Gorge the hills higher up were well covered! 

Taking stock of the cottage we noted how clean and tidy it was - apparently the group before us had very poor weather and so spent a lot of time cleaning! Out of four bottles we only had one which was only about half full and the food cupboard was almost bare... so we felt we ought to visit the supermarket as a matter of urgency!

By leaving it a bit late in the day I failed miserably to get any new gas bottles, meanwhile Phil and the other Andy went for a drive further inland and encountered a couple of inches of snow on the roads not far from Sella! 

Tuesday 1st March: Snowing again and very cold (4'C)... Phil & Andy headed off to visit Guadalest while Deirdre and I spent the day trying to keep warm and get some gas... we did manage to get one in the end! 

Looking down the Sella valley to the Divino

Wednesday 2nd: Realising the weather wasn't suddenly going to return to 'normal' we all headed off up the Puig Campana via the main path and encountered 6-9" of snow going up the scree gully...
Bitterly cold on top and totally clagged in, yet it was good to get out even if it felt strange to be there in winter conditions in the Costa Blanca in March! 

The summit of the Puig Campana

Descending the other side of the Puig Campana was a little bit tricky because of the deep drifted snow completely covering the steep zig-zag path... it was with some relief that we reached the bottom of it! 

Thursday 3rd: A better day but still quite cool, we went to Toix West to do a few routes. 

Almond blossom east of the Bernis Ridge

Friday 4th: Colder today so Deirdre and I went off to reconnoiter the Bernia Ridge West Summits scramble. A long drive to get there via an interesting twisty mountain road... It was quite breezy when we got there and we didnt fancy even a short walk in the cold wind. It seemed strange to be standing amongst almond trees covered in pink blossom when it was so cold and we could see snow on the hills! 

Saturday 5th: A nicer day so we all headed off to have a go at the Bernia Ridge West Summit scramble. Following the walking guide we had we reached the deep notch in the ridge (middle of the picture) after a bit of scrub bashing along a little used path and a bit of a traverse over a snow slope!
The notch was a great viewpoint though and we had a spot of lunch in the very welcome sunshine! 

A steep scramble onto the ridge and then along to a tricky bit for a non-climber, not made any easier by the snow and icy bits! 

Once up on the final section of ridge the view back towards the Penon at Calpe and Toix West was fabulous! 

... And looking the other way the summit was in sight! 

We visited the remains of a roman fort on the descent down the other side of the ridge. 

Sunday 6th: Typically the weather got much better so we went down Sella Gorge and sent Andy up a few routes before heading off to the airport to send off Deirdre & Andy and pick up Neil, Suzanne, Cathy and Simon

Monday 7th: Neil and I did a few routes at Olta but after a bit of difficulty with the approach... only managing 4 routes before the crag went into shade. It had been very hot in the sunshine but in the shade it got very cold very quickly. We went down to Toix West and did another route before that too got very cold. 

Tuesday 8th: Quite a warm day and the mountain looked very inviting in the sunshine.
Neil and I did Dierdro Magics on the Puig Campana and all went well until the last pitch which was in shade and we suddenly got very cold! I seconded this (crux) pitch with seemingly frozen hands and we abseiled off from the top without any delay! - We had to pay a visit to the Moli II of course! 

Wednesday 9th: This was the day I had earmarked for us to do the 21 pitch route Les Entorns but after experiencing how cold it still was in the shade we decided to give it a miss.
We went to Echo valley and did a couple of good 2 pitch routes and then a few short ones.

Looking down the route of Espolon sur Centrale on the Puig Campana

Thursday 10th: Neil, Simon and Cathy did the Bernia Ridge West Summit Scramble while I took Phil to the airport via Decathalon. I'd planned to do something on the Puig Campana after seeing him off but in the end felt too tired so I had a "rest day" instead! 

Friday 11th: Neil, Suzanne and I headed up the Espolon Centrale route on Puig Campana and made good time so we carried on up to the big square notch in the ridge. Then on to the summit and a quick descent down the (now clear of snow) path and on to the Moli II (of course!) 

Looking through the 'Notch' on Puig Campana

Saturday 12th: A dull day to begin with so Neil and I went to the Puig de Divino and did "Ignasi Hernandez" (E2 5c) with some difficulty because the vital belay bolts directly above the crux pitch had been removed... reluctant to belay that pitch on poor gear we climbed together until the next belay point - a worrying few minutes!
After descending down a deteriorating path (loose scree all over it) we decided to just do the first 2 pitches of "Espolon Pertemba" before abbing off. 

Sunday 13th: We woke to a rainy day and headed off to visit Decathalon finding it closed. So on to the airport early. 

This was my 13th trip out to the Costa Blanca and the first time I'd experienced such poor weather... in fairness the whole of Europe suffered poor weather those two weeks as a weather system channeled icy winds in from Siberia! 

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