Mountain Journeys

Cresta de Al-Azraq: Exploring a 13th Century fortress via a fine ridge


Looking up towards the ridge and fortress

Today was due to be a rest day, but that didn't last long as there's still so much to discover in these mountains. Last year I laid eyes upon a ridge in the Vall de Gallinera and thought 'yeh that looks nice'! Now armed with more information and the recently published local guidebook 'Crestas y Aristas de la Comunidad Valenciana by 'Joan Crespo Sempere' we set off to explore.

What did we find?
Firstly we enjoyed a pleasant drive from Llosa de Camacho through the Vall de Gallinera, with stunning mountains and pretty villages this in itself would be enough for many.
We then only had a short uphill walk of maybe 15 minutes to reach the base of the ridge and gearing up spot. With this place being 'off the beaten track' we moved slow and steady along the initial section, which included a cave!
Being North facing we enjoyed the coolness of shade for a while, but then returned into bright sunshine once on the exposed sections of ridge.

Long sections of easy ground were split with technical climbs up to grade V so we were able to move fairly swiftly for much of the time, although route finding wasn't always a breeze!
The more height we gained the better the ridge became, and to finally arrive at the fortress was such a treat. There is so much more to it than appears from below and renovation works are underway, albeit low-key.
Guidebook description suggested a couple of descent options, we opted for the less technical of these, being a straightforward footpath, this brought us back to the parking area in about 20 minutes.

Equipment we took: helmet, harness, technical approach shoes, a light trad rack with plenty of 120cm & 60cm slings, 40m single rope.
This was enough, but if climbing this route again as a party of 3 I would consider a 50m rope to give increased flexibility on pitch lengths.
Due to the loose rock found along some of the ridge a helmet is an absolute 'must take' bit of kit. I trundled a few blocks along the way! But with a light touch and thoughtful movement this is a very worthwhile ridge scramble with stunning views in all directions, these include the mighty Benicadell too.

Thanks to Kate & Kim for joining me on this.



Kate & Kim enjoying the airy situations on the ridge


Me, Kate & Kim at the top



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