Mountain Journeys

A brief return to the Costa Blanca

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Sierra de Bernia

Whilst Kate has been holding the fort and working hard here in the Lakes, I managed another short spell out in Spain.

The first few days was spent meeting up with friends and checking out more of this amazing adventure playground. We found some fantastic places for canyoning, sport climbing, and trad climbing.

Checking out venues in advance of taking our customers has always been a policy for us whenever possible, and one of the reasons for this is that information from guidebooks or online sources isn't always correct, and this can lead to problems and become time intense. An example of this came on this visit whilst descending the 'Barranco del Lliset del Salt' near the mountain village of Tarbena.
We found the place easy enough and the first abseil was as described, all's well then, well no not really. The second abseil was due to be 22m, so I deployed a 55m rope that should more than cover it. We couldn't see the route down due to a huge roof we would go over, this led to a free hanging abseil, I was constantly looking for the anchors but they didn't exist and the end of the rope was getting ever nearer!! About 3 metres from the end of rope I stopped, had a final look for the anchors and thought about plan 'b' & 'c'! Prussiking back up the rope was quite unappealing and may have led to severe rope wear as it ran over the roof, so I asked Ann who was still above, to deploy the other rope and use it's full 55m length in order to reach the bottom (this meant an unretrievable abseil set up). Ann could then safely descend and I was then able to switch onto the other rope and continue my descent in safety, pulling my ropes down at the same time. A quick run around to the top and we were able to retrieve all our abandoned gear and rope, so nothing lost.

Definitely a lesson learnt and will choose to use both ropes in future if the descent cannot be seen, no matter what the information says!
This is a very good, fairly short adventure through dramatic scenery and it's one I would certainly recommend. Starting and finishing in the village of Tarbena means the activity can be finished off with coffee & cake whilst sitting in the sun in the town square.

The next canyon of the trip was to be Barranco de les Viudes (the widow maker)!!
This was also near the village of Tarbena. The approach description was close to non-existent, but with a little searching we soon found it and made our way down. Access was super easy, less than 5 minutes from the parking place.
The abseils were mostly short, with just one of around 20m, but the scenery made the descent well worth while and a huge bonus came as we exited the canyon, we stumbled upon a recently developed sport climbing crag, oh yes!
This crag is situated in a beautiful location amongst Olive & Almond terraces (bancales) and looks into the top of the Bolulla canyon. We climbed a few routes here, all were very good, some were brilliant. Grade range is from 4+ up to probably high 7's maybe even some 8's - well they certainly looked mega tough.

We then spent a couple of days exploring the various crags below the vast Segaria ridge. Starting with Barranco buttress, we climbed at least one new route here. Further rightwards are much larger buttresses and we took a look at these too, we found a mix of good rock and proper 'horror show' quality rock with many holds snapping! This definitely added a big 'A' to our adventure climbing that day. The scope for new routes and very adventurous climbing here is huge, but some loose rock needs trundling first to make things a little safer.

On Sunday I drove inland to the pretty Guadalest valley where I was meeting Soo & John. They had been on a walking holiday based in Benimantell. Having enjoyed a full itinerary of mountain walks, they were both feeling like a day of rest before getting to grips with Spanish limestone.
Monday was a little damp, but we still managed a morning of climbing before being chased off the crags by rain. Thankfully the rain chased us into a seaside restaurant for a delicious lunch. The rain abated and we took a walk along the promenade for a closer look at El Penon de Ifach and the climbing it offers.

Tuesday brought much improved weather so we headed back to Toix to continue the rock climbing. Soo & John led 4 or 5 routes each during the morning. We then spent the afternoon at the Morro Falqui sea cliffs a little to the north of Calpe. Firstly climbing the fun 'Coming Out' route, then having a go on a couple of much harder climbs. We wrapped the afternoon up with an explore of the nearby sea caves.

By Wednesday the sun was back to working overtime again. We headed slightly inland to the Echo valley crags. 3 routes led by both Soo & John and a nice chilled out morning enjoyed by all.
After lunch we headed back to Toix for a multi-pitch climb. We started on a route called 'Maria', this leads into 'Anna' which took us to the top of the crag in a total of 3 pitches. Although the grades for each pitch are quite low, some of the moves felt rather tricky. A multi-pitch stacked abseil descent rounded the day off nicely.

Beautiful views, warm sunshine, excellent climbing, some great adventures, new lessons learnt, and all amongst lovely company. Thanks to Miguel, Mila, Ann, Soo, and John. Hopefully see you all again before too long.

Mark
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Toix multi-pitch climbing

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Morro Falqui cliffs

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Problem solving during a canyon descent near Tarbena

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Crag X - Bolulla

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