Arista Agullo HS / 4:
This one isn't in the Rockfax guidebook, but we had obtained a small amount of information about it online, this amounted to little more than where it started and how difficult it would be! So with about 200m of climbing and 100m of scrambling, route finding was going to be the main challenge without a description.
From the main parking area (as per Rockfax description) follow the track for 300m until a crest is reached and the surface is concreted. There's a cairn here, turn right to follow the right bank of a river bed, eventually switching to the left bank, and follow this up to the base of the wall, keeping right of Sector Deportivo. Route: It's possible to avoid the initial scrambling pitches of around 100m by walking around to the right and following tracks below the rib. However, if you wish to prolong the fun, start about 25m left of the base of the arete, where the vegetation is cleared. A short blank wall leads up to the rib, this is about 4b for a couple of moves, but once the rib is gained it's all scrambling at about grade 2. Follow the rib for about 100m and belay below a steepening. Above lies 4 pitches (3, 3, 4, 4) all between 40 & 50m in length and all contain plenty of loose rock, beware! This is a trad route, cams and slings are especially helpful. We came across one bolted belay, and one piece of fixed gear around a Pine tree (belay), and that's it. Keep to the rib the whole way (there are one or two old pegs), and when nearing the top keep well left of the large flake and climb just left of a prominent groove (one piece of fixed gear on this pitch). Route length: 180m Grade: HS 4a
Descent: Whilst it's possible to descend via a gully and scree slope from the top of Pena de Alicante, i'd recommend keeping to the well marked 'PR' track leading down to the Caves. This is longer but very easy and only about 45 - 60 minutes back to the car. A very worthwhile route and definitely not a 'Costa clip up'! Enjoy
Via Gene VS / 4+:
We did have a description for this one and whilst it is vague, it definitely makes a big difference. Thank you Rockfax.
The base of the route is easy to find too as the name 'Gene' is etched onto the rock. The first pitch is quite vegetated in places, but still contains some excellent climbing and some of the hardest moves of the climb are towards the top of this pitch. There's a tree belay.
Pitch 2: is a straightforward rising traverse up to a bolted belay next to some old pegs. Yes we used the bolts and recommend anyone climbing this do likewise.
Pitch 3: goes rightwards into a groove just above, then right again to reach a vertical groove with a bush at it's base. This section gives beautiful climbing up to a double bolt belay at the base of some slabs.
Pitch 4: trends rightwards up the slabs to reach a massive ledge, continue rightwards on this to reach the base of a long ridge. This makes a great lunch spot.
Pitch 5: Just left of the lowest point gain the ridge (some fixed gear) and follow it all the way to its top and belay in a corner (bolts).
Pitch 6: Trend leftwards, crossing the weird black (burnt looking) rock, climb through one groove to reach another and follow this until it's possible to exit on the left at a peg / bolt belay. An excellent pitch.
Pitch 7: Follow the ridge, clipping the various ancient pegs along the way until the ground eases about 10m below the crest. There is a single peg belay here, or better, use the large pine tree to the right (looking up) immediately at the top of the steep section. This felt like the crux pitch as it was sustained and we were a little tired! Still, a brilliant pitch.
Pitch 8: follows the crest rightwards to the first big notch. Here there are bolted abseil stations on either side, take your pick.
Descent: we choose the shorter abseil into the gully at the back of the mountain. This can be done in 2 stages using 2 half 50's. Upon reaching the steep scree filled gully, get on your trainers and revel in the amazing scree run descent back to the base, loads of fun and rapid.
Thanks to Kim & Ann for joining me on these adventures.
If you'd like a guide for these or other climbs, canyons, walks in the area, please get in touch anytime, we'd be very happy to help.