Costa Blanca - March 11th-31st 2006

Sunday 12th: A sunny day and we were raring to go so Andy Barton and I climbed Espolon Centrale on the Puig Campana and continued to the notch, then along to the col and down the back of the mountain past the bivvy hut. There had been a huge forest fire the week before and all of this side of the mountain was burnt out...

Puig Campana from Sella village

Monday 13th: The day started overcast so we checked out Echo Placa and did 6 nice routes.

The Sierra Helada Ridge from the Puig Campana

Tuesday 14th: After dropping Mark off to do the Sierra Helada ridge Andy and I headed for the Penon and Polvos Magicos. Andy led the extremely polished crux pitch. As we got higher up the sun began to take it's toll and we were glad of the breeze. Abseiling back to our sacks we decided to leave Dierdro Ubsa for another day and headed back to pick Mark up at the end of his walk. A couple of beers and then off to Finistraat for a meal at the Moli II

Pitch 5 of Polvos Magicos

Wednesday 15th: An early start for us and we headed off to do Des Entorns. Steady progress up to the top of pitch 8 where we had a brief break as the sun hit us full on. 3 more pitches to the belay of pitch 11 and we met a problem - we couldn't see a reasonable route forward. 

The South Face of the Puig Campana

The only possibility was up a steepening groove with little in the way of protection or holds, and halfway up a mountain was no place to take a fall and sustain even a minor injury. Two hours later after looking at all the possibilities we decided to abandon our attempt.

Looking down pitch 10 of Des Entorns

Thursday 16th: Another very hot day and parking at Echo Two Mark, Andy and I walked up to the summit of the Ponoch and then Andy volunteered to take the car to Finistraat while Mark and I walked on around the East side of Puig Campana to meet him at the Moli II

Setting off from Echo 2 to the Ponoch summit and Finestrat

Mark at the Ponoch summit with the Puig Campana beyond

Friday 17th: Andy had borrowed Steve's mountain bike and we dropped him off from the road at the Aitana TV Station road. He had a great ride over the Aitana ridge and back down the road from the top of the Divino. Mark & I drove over to Busot to visit the amazingly atmospheric show cave at the Cabezon d'Oro and we also located the start of the route "Via Gene". 

The Via Gene area of the Cabezon d'Oro

Saturday 18th: Climbing at Sella in the morning, doing 3 routes in the 'Speedy Gonzales' area, then I drove Andy & Mark to Alicante airport & picked up Deirdre

The Puig Campana from the veranda at Sunset

Sunday 19th: Deirdre and I checked out a new area (to us) - the 'Baranco de Puig Campana' which was very pleasant and had some good routes of which we did seven.

The Barranco de Puig Campana

Monday 20th: Heading off to the Penon Deirdre and I did Via Valencianos in the blazing sunshine which was so tiring that Deirdre declared Tuesday to be a 'rest day' - and it was so hot that I was happy to have a rest!

Looking over to Benidorm from the Puig Campana

Wednesday 22nd: Feeling much refreshed we headed up the Espolon Centrale on the Puig Campana, however it was another long hot day and I could feel another 'rest day' coming on!!

The mountain village of Sella

Friday 24th: With a hot day yesterday and today looking the same we went to Echo Placa and climbed 7 excellent routes.

Deirdre at Echo Placa

Saturday 25th: Mark returned after his train trip and we all headed off to Toix West where Deirdre and I did a four pitch route called "Lara" in the heat while Mark explored the ridge, We met a couple of Canadians on the route.

The Placa face of Toix West

Sunday 26th: Parking at Echo Two on another very hot day we sent Deirdre, Cathy & Simon along the Ponoch/Puig Campana/Finistraat route which Mark and I had done. Mark & I did a long circular route back to the car, meeting them at the Moli II.

Deirdre & Cathy at the summit of the Ponoch

Monday 27th: Deirdre and I had another day off! 

The Mascarat Gorge upper face

Tuesday 28th: Deirdre and I headed over to Busot to climb Via Gene on the Cabezon d'Oro. However there was a very strong gusty wind and as I belayed Deirdre up pitch 1 it became obvious that the conditions were not ideal for climbing this long exposed route. We abseiled and decided to follow the newly signposted footpath over the Cabezon and call in at the show cave which it went right by!
So carrying all our climbing gear and ropes, on a very hot day we set off up the steep path. Reaching the top of the first step of the mountain we decided we didn't have time to take in the summit and carried on to the show cave and a welcome ice cream! 

The Cabezon d'Oro from Busot

Wednesday 29th: Realising it was the heat which was wiping us out we rested during the day and then went down to Sella for Deirdre to lead 3 routes. A guy climbing nearby us had a small slip and banged his knee which became very swollen after only a few minutes and he was unable to walk on it. Exactly the sort of minor injury which would've been disastrous halfway up a long mountain route... 

The rectangular silhouette of El Cid from Marin

Thursday 30th: Deirdre, Mark and I drove down to Marin on another scorching day and while Mark explored the nearby hills we climbed three 2-pitch routes. The Canadians Isabelle & Marc were also there. 

Isabelle climbing at Marin

Friday 31st: Another scorching day and Deirdre and I drove to the village of Fageca and walked up the Pla de la Casa (1379m) and then went on to the Serrella (1359m). 

Deirdre on the summit of the Pla de la Casa

The first mountain had a huge 'snow pit' on it's summit but the second mountain was disappointedly along dirt roads and had a radio shack on top! 

Looking down at the huge snow pit from the summit of the Pla de la Casa

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