Why? Well, yesterday I joined a couple of friends, George and Rachel, to climb a big route on Puig Campana. This is the massive and iconic mountain passed as you drive along the coast road from Alicante to Calpe and is just inland from Benidorm. It's unmissable and unmistakable. I've climbed on this crag maybe half a dozen times, so not loads, but enough to feel I know my way around reasonable well. For Rachel and George, it was a day for them to familiarise themselves with the mountain and terrain and get a feel for the place. They have even bigger projects in mind!
Our route was to be the super classic 'Espolon Central' a Hard Severe / 4+ of about 440 metres and taking the most striking line on the mountain. Espolon Central translates to 'Central Arete' and that's exactly what this is. Follow the huge arete in the centre of the South face. So you may think route finding will be easy. Not really. Just reaching the arete requires about 100m of climbing. Once on the arete you realise it is actually huge, so a line needs to be chosen, ideally the correct line. George was leading the route today and thankfully his route finding skills are first class, we didn't put a foot wrong anytime.
Me and Rachel we able to simple enjoy seconding the route, enjoying sitting around on the big belay ledges, and chatting away, all whilst George did all the hard work, thanks George. This was a huge help to me as I'm currently doing some research on the route and the mountain.
We climbed the route swiftly, about 5 hours of climbing landed us at the top of the route. So far we had enjoyed continuously interesting climbing on good rock in increasingly spectacular positions. The climbing is never hard, but it is run-out and the length of the route means it's very tiring, exhausting in fact. So not to be under-estimated.
After a nice rest and mini-explore at the top, we began our descent. Once you've done this and know the way, it's pretty straightforward, but first time, it can be daunting and confusing, especially when tired. We discussed what this would be like on a misty day, or worse, in the dark! It doesn't bear thinking about. Thankfully we had bright sunshine, t-shirt weather even at the top of the climb.
Red paint mark the way and there are occasional fixed cables to help protect the trickier sections. The exposure here is similar to that experienced during the climb, so care is required. We soon reached the edge of the huge gully and made our way down into it, from here it's a steep scree run back to base.
A couple of climbers from Madrid followed us up the climb, and we noticed at the top they continued to scramble upwards for maybe 100m. We thought maybe they are continuing all the way to the summit. But then noticed they too began to traverse leftwards as if making a descent to the big gully, only higher up. Still not sure what their plan was or if they found a good way down. But would be interesting to know. The terrain didn't look too friendly. They certainly seemed to know what they were doing though.
8 hours out on the mountain for us yesterday and almost every minute of that we are on the go (George much more so), so all pretty knackered now. Back to bed maybe!!
Thanks to Rachel and George for a fab day out.