It's a hugely impressive place and doesn't take long to check out, we can well recommend it for those with a spare hour.
The single pitch climbs at the base of the gorge were mostly in a sorry state, with ancient bolts and scarily steep rock, no thanks!
We planned to try out the first 2 pitches of a 4 pitch climb, Via Aurora. Some friends had recently climbed this and it sounded worth checking out.
We had expected a fully bolted route, it sort of was, but sort of wasn't! The first old peg was maybe 6 metres up then maybe 3 more metres to the first bolt. This theme continued the whole way. So yes there's plenty of fixed gear, but plenty of it is is a poor state. In a way this adds character to the route and gives a more wholesome experience.
Added to this, I definitely didn't feel like I was climbing at all well today, fumbling on almost every move, over-gripping, slipping and sliding on the feet. The climb just didn't flow for me, my movements felt mechanical. Often the footholds would be just too small for my big feet! This wasn't helping.
Somehow I managed to reach the belay at the top of pitch 1, feeling pretty deflated that i'd only just scraped up a 6a/E1. Kate seemed to have a fair bit of trouble on the pitch too, so maybe it is just an awkward pitch, yes that's what i'll tell myself :-)
I set off on the very short upper pitch. This soon stopped me in my tracks. Wow, these moves are hard, and this is the easier pitch!!! I was missing a crucial hold or sequence and couldn't piece it together. It took about half a dozen goes and I was very close to taking some 'air-time' but thankfully sorted myself out and climbed it, clipping the belay above came as quite a relief.
We had a laugh at ourselves, whilst concluding the route felt under-graded.
Despite us only climbing 2 pitches, Mascarat still leaves an impression. The high, foreboding walls, the atmosphere, the road-noise from above, all come together to give a unique experience.
If looking for 'Costa clip up' style climbing in the Calpe area, go to Toix, there's plenty of great climbing there. If looking for that extra dimension, an added twist, then Mascarat could be for you. Go prepared, and wear an 'adventure hat' - it helps!
Happy New Year
Mark & Kate