Me on the first rock obstacle - photo courtesy of Tom Phillips
Me on the ridge - photo courtesy of Tom Phillips
Bernia Ridge Adventures
During a cycle ride last week and doing some day-dreaming on the long ascent from Callosa to Tarbena, I looked over towards the Fonts d’Algar and noticed a striking ridge emanating from the valley and going all the way towards the main Bernia ridge. Some further investigation showed that the initial section of ridge would be straightforward and easy to escape, but later things could get quite exciting……..and they did.
So today I met up with Tom of Abdet.com and we set off to quest up this beautiful looking ridge.
Easy parking above Fonts d’Algar provided the positive start we wanted. Tom said we could walk through the gorge to access the base of the ridge, this worked well and gave us quick access.
A scrambly path provided the initial interest and we gained height very quickly. A couple of rock walls needed to be negotiated along the way and this kept us alert to route finding. Soon we had a choice of following a rocky path to the right, or following the rocky crest. We chose the later, it proved to be excellent with much great scrambling in increasingly good positions.
We were able to solo the majority of the initial ridge, choosing our own way, stopping for a few photos here and there. We then came to a section that caused us to unpack the climbing rope and go into climbing mode. Just one pitch and we were able to put the rope away again, for now.
A mix of easy scrambling and walking followed, this was only interrupted by the passing overhead of a Golden Eagle. A truly magnificent sight.
We knew that a narrow, rocky crest would arrive sometime soon and we were not disappointed on this one. It was gobsmacking in its narrowness. Time to rope up again.
We took it in turns to lead across the narrow crest, taking it steady so we could enjoy the airy positions on offer. Very similar in character to the Bardals and El Realet ridges, only this one feels untouched.
The ridge was undulating, with numerous pinnacles that were like big teeth sticking out and tiny cols between each. These added to the fun and excitement as well as giving good belay stances.
Tom had been leading his pitches pretty quickly, but things suddenly came to a halt as he began down-climbing into a notch. The terrain now steeper and with some suspect rock, care was required. The ‘push not pull’ mentality must now be employed if a safe passage is to be expected. Tom then declared he was coming back. The difficulties now more substantial, not so much for Tom, but he was concerned for me who would be making the down-climb without any protection.
We decided to retreat from the crest and try to regain it again in the notch. This didn’t go to plan due to a variety of reasons, but mostly because it was getting late in the day. We were now very close to the end of the narrow section of ridge, but there was plenty more scrambling ahead, so calling it a day at this point seemed prudent.
About 50m of scrappy scrambling got us off the ridge and onto animal tracks that were to lead us safely over to a large clearing. From here it was plain sailing to the main path leading down to Fonts d’Algar.
For a couple of kilometres we enjoyed a fine descent back to the roadside, with accompanying fine views of Puig Campana, Ponoch, Xanchet, Raco Las and many more.
We aren’t sure, but have a feeling we might be the first ascensionists of the narrow part of this ridge. The reason we think this is that we found no evidence of any previous passing. No in-situ gear and not a hint of traffic.
So whilst it may still be slightly unfinished business for us, I’m claiming the first British ascent for M.Eddy and T. Phillips. I have been informed by local guide David Mora Garcia that the ridge has seen ascents by locals but ascents are rare.
What we carried:
40m single rope – this proved to be quite ideal, although a 50m would have been better.
A light trad climbing rack, with plenty of 120cm slings.
Tom wore rock shoes, I wore approach shoes. Either works fine.
Having a few short lengths of rope would be worth having for a repeat ascent as these could then be threaded into the rock and left in-situ for future adventurers.
All in all a grand day out with lots of adventure.
Thanks to Tom of Abdet for joining me on this.
For loads of inspiration about adventure days in the Costa Blanca check out our New Cicerone Guidebook here
And for more about what we offer in the Costa Blanca check us out here
Tom on the initial section of ridge - Bernia Ridge Adventures
Tom questing along the arete - Bernia Ridge Adventures