This December the team were back for more. All now climbing really well and leading trad routes back in the UK, I knew the itinerary was going to need to be pretty special so got to work on making plans for great mountain adventures.
Day 1: Arriving around lunchtime, there wasn't much time for climbing, but we did squeeze in a visit to the local Toix crags and this proved to be a perfect warm up for the holiday.
Day 2: We visited Font d'Axia crags in the Jalon valley area. A lovely quiet crag with loads of great routes from 4 - 7a, so a good range. Everyone climbed loads despite the heat of the sun wilting us at times. And even the 7a saw an attempt!
During the day we looked at multi-pitch climbing skills too, in preparation for a sea cliff adventure tomorrow. Everyone led climbs today and much improvement seen by all. Awesome day!
Day 3: A serious undertaking today, we were heading to the Morro Falqui sea cliffs near Teulada. Our sights set on the 6 pitch 'Sonjannika' which climbs the full length of this impressive cliff. A canyon descent starts the day, then a short scramble to reach the base of the route. With 6 of us on the route, careful time management was crucial for safety and success, thankfully everyone worked hard to keep the day flowing smoothly. I climbed with Jules who was fab company all day. We all met up on the big ledge above pitch 4, here we enjoyed lunch overlooking the sea :-)
As with many brilliant routes, the best is saved until last, and pitch 6 doesn't disappoint. Long and with several tricky sections and a traverse to finish the pitch off, this is excellent in every way. There were a fair few tentative moments on that final traverse, but everyone kept their cool and climbed it well, often finishing to applause from those already at the top. A big and awesome day.
Day 4: An easier day today, with a visit to Jalon market during the morning to buy some Christmas gifts to take back home. During the afternoon we headed for the beach at Les Rotes. Here we swam in the warm sea and enjoyed some beach bouldering. A nice restful day.
Day 5: Another 'full-on' day. We began with a long Via Ferrata on Ponoch. This brought many smiles and much laughter all round. The weather wasn't being so kind today though, with cloud swirling around us for much of the ascent, although this did add to the atmosphere. The clouds cleared briefly when we were at the top and this provided us with big views of the mountain and surroundings. A multi-stage abseil took us easily back to the base.
During the afternoon we went cragging in the nearby Echo valley. With everyone going so well, we almost climbed the whole crag out during our fairly short visit, top effort.
Day 6: Bernia ridge traverse - big day out! An early-ish start for this one saw us walking in before the sun had warmed the air, this allowed a speedy start. We geared up at the 'Forat' then began our ascent to the ridge. A few nerves amongst the team today, especially so once the scale and location start to register! Once on the ridge we were in the sun and pleasantly warm. Movement along the crest soon came naturally to all, and the exposure soon a normal part of the day. Still, concentration levels stayed very high throughout for everyone, big space below the feet tends to have that effect!
We cruised the ridge, the abseils, the climbing section, and then to the descent. Scree run fun, why not? This is a super rapid way to loose height on the northern side of the ridge. Within only about 50m everyone was looking comfortable with the terrain and much laughter could be heard, for this is brilliant fun.
We made it back to base in time for coffees, cake, and beer at the Bernia restaurant. Another awesome day.
Day 7: Yesterday had been a long mountaineering day, and muscles ached a little this morning. So our plan to go cragging to Gandia fit the bill perfectly. The sun was out again, the rock warm, the routes fantastic. Everyone climbed the worm hole route of 'Pequeno Saltemontes' which is so much fun, and made even more so if your name is Lauren or Edd ;-)
This very much became a day of consolidating leading skills for most, with both Jules & Nicola really excelling and ticking loads of routes on the lead. We almost had to drag ourselves away at the end of the day, still so much to do here.
Day 8: Last day for the team and a trip to Aventador crag. This is home to a short and very steep Via Ferrata and that's what we started with. The weather was overcast and cold when we arrived, but thankfully this soon changed to blue skies and sunshine :-)
Jules enjoyed the Via Ferrata so much she went up it again, taking Kate with her. Nice one.
A fine selection of routes were climbed on the main crag, a little multi-pitch action too, and a quality 6a lead for Lauren. Nicola & Edd spent time placing trad gear to help plug the gaps between the bolts. This is a good way to become proficient at this and carries less risk, win win.
Where did the time go, why do you have to go, we'll miss you all so much
Big thanks to: Edd, Lauren, Jules, Nicola, and Richard - an absolute pleasure