Gearing up point and first abseil - Barranco del Salt de Fleix
Barranco del Salt de Fleix
With a short and easy approach plus a spectacular setting, on first acquaintance it’s difficult to understand why this isn’t more popular. Having walked the nearby trails for years, I think I have the answer. The main spout is carpeted in extremely dense vegetation that holds moisture well. So there are two times to descend this canyon, either when it’s in full flow, or when it is completely dry. The time in-between would be grim.
When in Spain, we are set up for dry canyon descents as mostly that’s what we find. So when returning from a recent canyon descent of the nearby Llidoners and Racons, I noticed the hanging vegetation on the Barranco del Salt de Fleix looked completely dry, which I’d never seen before. We needed to get on it before the rains arrived, so yesterday, with a small team of friends, we did.
It has always seemed to me that the main event of this descent would be the abseil down the massive waterspout. And don’t get me wrong, it's cool and the surroundings are wild and impressive. The pleasant surprise came later, in the lower section of the canyon. This was what held our attention far more and provided a fun, technical descent, with loads of scrambling, equipped traverses, and short abseils of which most needed thoughtful rope-work.
The more technical lower section - Barranco del Salt de Fleix
Now let me take you on a little adventure though the Barranco del Salt de Fleix.
We parked up in the mountain village of Fleix. From here, a downhill walk on the PR-147 brought us to the unmissable ‘Forat’ (big hole in the rock) in about 20 minutes. Immediately before the Forat a large opening can be seen on the right, this is the top of the big waterspout. Gear up here.
Rope coiling at the base of the massive abseil - Barranco del Salt de Fleix
As a team of 4 we had given ourselves a few additional technical problems to solve, as 2 of the stances are small and only have space for 2 and 3 people. ‘Small’ is a relative term, I’d say the second stance can only accommodate 1. We had brought 3 ropes to help keep the rope-faff to a minimum and this worked well. If going as a team of 2 this wouldn’t be needed, but would still be nicer.
A short abseil of 7m and over easy angled terrain leads to the hanging stance. This is an awkward spot and requires care to keep the ropes in order whilst they are threaded. From this point it’s possible to go the full length of the spout, we had 2x60m ropes and this was more than adequate with around 5m of spare. If using shorter ropes, there is a midway anchor and the lengths are 20+40m to base. The intermediate stance is small, but would be okay for 2 or 3 people.
A short scramble and some walking reaches the main PR path. If short on time the journey could be terminated here, but don’t do that. Instead, cross over main path and soon reach a short abseil (8m) and almost immediately reach another anchor and a 12m abseil into a pot with a chain. It can be awkward to transfer from the abseil rope onto the chain, have a lanyard at the ready for clipping in. The chain can be used as a handrail to traverse above the pool.
A short walk reaches the next abseil of about 11m.
Cross over the top of the huge boulders to find an anchor on the downstream side, go 8m to a small ledge that will hopefully keep you dry - it did for us - grab the chain and use it to cross the large pool. A 5m abseil exits this this pool.
Nearing the end of our journeys through Barranco del Salt de Fleix
A short walk reaches an optional abseil or down climb of 10m. We threaded the rope through the anchors here and down climbed using it as a handrail. I can confirm this was a happy medium. But for some it would be a fun bum-slide!
Scrambling leads to a confluence with the Rio Ebo. Turn right to immediately meet the main path leading back up to Fleix.
There are various escapes along the route if needed.
If taking 3 ropes (1 short + 2 long) i’d recommend stashing the long ropes after the big waterspout as this area is passed on the return walk and the lower canyon only requires a short rope, with the max abseil length circa 12m.
Coming down the big water chute - Barranco del Salt de Fleix
15 minute approach
2 hours in the canyon
45 minutes return
Abseil lengths are: 7m; 20m; 40m; 8m; 12m; 11m; 8m; 5m; 10m
For full details about a bunch of amazing canyon descents and loads of other activities in the Costa Blanca please check out my guidebook, published by Cicerone - Costa Blanca Mountain Adventures
And if you'd prefer a guided day out please check out what we offer here
Thanks to Jay, Nicola, and Stevie for joining and to you for reading