Espolon Central is around 425m and graded Hard Severe. So what's it like?
Brilliant! As with many crags in the area, the approach is quick and easy, this one takes about 30 minutes to reach the base of the route. There is an arrow marking the start of the Direct route, although the huge rock shield to the right is a better marker. The direct start is about 90m and overall a little harder than the rest of the route. Once at the top of this, a traverse rightwards gains the base of the ridge, this is what we came for.
Even though the route follows a ridge, don't be fooled into thinking route-finding is always straightforward, it isn't, as this ridge is wide and complex, so stick to the description you have.
The feeling of exposure really starts to kick in above pitch 8. When trees at ground level look like small bushes you know there's some serious space below right! This exposure is magnificent and well worth savouring, the feeling of warm rock, a big mountain setting, and lots of air below is pretty special.
But remember not to savour all this for too long, for the route is going to take quite a few hours to complete, even by fast teams. Then there's the long descent to factor, allow a couple of hours for that. Being May, the days are long and we had daylight until about 9.30pm, so didn't stress too much, but for many it will be the winter months when climbing this and it's dark then at 6pm!
I think it's hard to say where the crux is on this route, it feels like there are a few of them. But factor in tiredness and it's likely you'll feel the upper pitches the most difficult.
The top of the route is marked by a small Holm Oak tree and a faded red dot (Go) to its right. This is a good place for a rest, food, water, and wow what a viewpoint.
Being at the top is only half way, there's so much more fun and challenge to come. From the red dot go right, though some rocks to reach a fixed cable and follow this and more red dots on a long and exposed traverse across the mountain. The cables are fixed on the more difficult sections only. When the cables run out a descent into the huge scree gully will begin, care is needed here as there is much loose rock. Keep looking out for the red dots, these mark the best way down. Once in the big gully, a scree run / bum slide quickly reaches the lower section of the mountain and footpaths on the right soon reach the plateau and road. Keep stopping to look at the view, evening light on the Puig Campana is beautiful.
Here's a few photos showing the lovely sights of the area.
Want to find out more or book activities for Spain or the Lake District. Please get in touch anytime and let's make it happen.
Thanks for reading.