Costa Blanca - November 23rd-30th 2006


 The epic abseil of Magical Mystery Tour, Toix Sea Cliff

Seizing the opportunity for a quick trip out to the Costa Blanca with Keith Roberts we arrived at the village of Sella in blazing sunshine and raring to go.  Keith hadn’t visited this area before so I was determined to send him up as many of the classic routes as we had time for.

Altea, the Sierra Helada ridge & Benidorm seen from high up on the Puig Campana route Espolon sur Centrale

Thursday 23rd: For our first route we headed off to the Puig Campana to do the classic route: Espolon sur Central ~450m 4+ (HS)  a superb 14 pitch route taking you up a fine buttress with fantastic views at a very amenable grade.

I’d forgotten how tough the long slog uphill approach can be – especially on the knees. A great route but the traverse off and the descent really takes it out of you!

One of the many nice pitches on the Espolon sur Centrale route

Friday 24th: Wanting to make the most of our time we went to the Penon d’Ifach at Calpe and climbed another classic route: Polvos Magicos  ~140m  6a+ (E2 5c) – I made sure to send Keith up the crux 2nd pitch which he did in great style.

The Valencianos Slab on the Penon d'Ifach

Abseiling from the top of the Valencianos slab we felt we had time for a second route and another classic: Dierdro UBSA  ~220m  5+  (HVS)  however we found we were getting a bit tired now. Mindful of the long descent we decided to abseil off after the first 3 pitches.

The Penon d'Ifach viewed from Olta

Saturday 25th: Feeling fairly exhausted after two great days we decided to take a ‘rest day’ to recuperate!

 Keith on Speedy Gonzales

Sunday 26th: Still a bit tired and not wanting to wipe ourselves out we went down the road to Sella Gorge and did 4 really nice routes:

Marion                       68m   5        (VS 4b)

Desbloquea que No     20m   5       (VS 4c)

Y tu Quien Eres         22m   6a+   (E2 5b/c)

Speedy Gonzalez        16m   5+     (VS 4c)

Another good day and we treated ourselves to a really nice meal at the Moli 2 restaurant in Finestrat.

 The main cliff of Orihuela near Murcia

Monday 27th: Having heard great things about Orihuela (near Murcia)we decided to pay it a visit despite the long drive involved. From the road it looked impressive but as we got closer we realised that it wasn’t as steep as it looked. We also found that much of it was covered with some really nasty spiky cactus shrubs. We had the crag to ourselves apart from another pair who strangely enough I knew from Yorkshire!

On their recommendation we did  a couple of nice routes:

Derecha del Espolon  160m  5  (VS 4b)   and   Ejercito Azul  30m  5+ (HVS 5a)

 Gecko on the wall of the apartment

Tuesday 28th: Tired from yesterday we took another ‘rest day’ and chilled out on the veranda!

The Cabezon d'Oro seen as one approaches Busot

Wednesday 29th: Feeling fit we headed off to the Cabezon d’Oro (Busot) which we’d seen from the motorway on our way back from Orihuela. Missing the turn off we ended up near Decathalon in Alicante and so took the opportunity to pay it a visit. Finally getting to the Cabezon we found the approach road too rutted to drive along and so had a longer walk in than we’d planned.

The Via Gene area of the cliff

However we still felt we had enough time to do the classic route: Via Gene  ~315m   5  (VS 4b)

 Keith leading off on Via Gene

Darkness falls very quickly in November and I seconded the final pitch in near darkness. It had been a few years since I’d been up this route and with only illumination from the lights of Alicante it took me quite a while to locate the abseil position I’d used before.

The first abseil took us down to a fixed belay we’d used on the way up and I was fairly sure that this was the correct place for the next abseil. Leading off I’d gone quite a way when I suddenly found myself hanging free and unable to see where I was going to regain the rock. Assailed by doubts and thoughts that to continue down the rope was a bad idea I prussiked back to Keith.

Back at the belay point we decided that our only option was to reverse the route we come up  despite it having a lot of diagonal traversing in it. This took us quite a while but we did it without too much difficulty although leaving a few bits of gear behind in the process.

The Puig Campana at sunset seen from the village of Sella in the east

Thursday 30th: For our last climbing day we went to Mar y Villa and decided to do the epic Rowland Edwards route at Toix Sea Cliff : Magical Mystery Tour 95m 5 (VS 4b/c)

 

 

 

Keith’s chance to experience a free abseil and I believe he really had a great time on this classic route.

Keith pulling over the crux of Magical Mystery Tour on the penultimate pitch

 

We celebrated the end of our trip with another really nice meal at the Moli 2 in Finestrat.

 

 

Scrambling along the ledges from the abseil to the start of Magical Mystery Tour

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