The walls here are big, no, massive. What Costa Blanca is so well known for is the excellent and varied 'Sport climbing'. Venture away from these easy access and well bolted venues and walk up into the mountains to see a whole different perspective. The Costa Blanca has so much more on offer, and those willing to dust off the trad gear are in for a treat.
We have climbed on most of the big mountains in the region, but it is Puig Campana which keeps drawing us back. Maybe it is the iconic look and feel of it, as a mountain should be. Or maybe the juxtaposition with Benidorm, which is quite surreal. Could it just be the top quality climbing and strong natural lines. Most likely it's a bit of all these. Anyway, we love the place.
Having climbed 'Aristoteles' a few times now and always enjoying it, I was keen to extend the climbing and find a better descent than that offered by 'Aristoteles'. So me and Neil set off to link this route with 'The Pepsi Crest' which is another 4 pitches at about the same grade, so think UK Hard Severe but with a few bolts / tat here and there.
We climbed Aristoteles quickly and efficiently, in maybe only 7 very long pitches. Neil Kindly showed me a harder variation pitch from the halfway ledge. This proved to be a wonderful pitch and well worth doing. After a short abseil into the descent notch at t he top of Aristoteles, Neil led the initial pitch of Pepsi Crest. The route was marked with threads so easy to find our way. This pitch gave about 20m of good climbing then a scramble/walk led to a bolted belay.
The next pitch wandered around rather too much, so I cursed the rope drag! But did include a sensational climb on a very narrow arete. Neil led through and up to a spacious belay which was bolted.
A few more metres of climbing remained and I led this, again up a narrow arete leading to a pine tree at the top of a small gully. Neil then took the ropes around and up to the top of the huge pinnacle to finish things off on a high. This was now over scrambling terrain, although it was certainly easier to stay roped for it.
The views and exposure were pretty special, with sheer walls heading down into the descent gully and the massive South-West face towering over us. Wow this is a big mountain!!
A bolted abseil station at the top of the gully led us into rather bushy territory and a further abseil brought us safely to ground level. Walking and easy scrambling was all that remained, as well as plenty of looking around to scope out future adventures on these mega walls.
Aristoteles is a really good first big mountain route as it offers an easy escape half way up. So if time is running short it is easy to run away. With 2x60m ropes the abseil descent is straightforward too. Adding The Pepsi Crest is another matter. Route finding is a little more tricky, the rock is generally less solid, and the abseil descent has the potential to give plenty of problems.
We climbed about 470m in total, so a fairly long way. On the route for about 5 hours, add in approach and descent brought the total time to around 8 hours or thereabouts. This was taking it easy, but we also had the advantage of knowing the initial 370m pretty well.
Big thanks to Neil for joining me on this adventure.