Mountain Journeys

Cresta dels Bandolers / Ridge of the Bandits – Big Wow factor


The arete of Cresta dels Bandolers


Cresta dels Bandolers / Bandolers ridge:

Last night I watched the new Ricky Gervais show, Armageddon. He kept coming back to the theory that we can’t control our thoughts. When I’m in the mountains and looking at the landscape, what is it in my head that tells me to act upon what I’m seeing, or not to act? Am I in control of this or not, I don’t know. Although I’d like to think I am.

Since my first trip to Costa Blanca, many years ago now, I’ve known the Bernia ridge and have driven and cycled the road up to the high point many times. But it was only very recently and during a cycle ride up there, that I stopped and saw a ridge I hadn’t noticed before, or if I had my mind had dismissed it.

After much checking of maps and as much online research as I could handle, today I set off to have a closer look. The online search came up with nothing, so best not to bother.

The approach walk would be the same as for the start of the Barranco del Pas de Bandolers. This is a magnifyicent canyon trip through epic scenery. For more information about this and many other canyon descents in the area check out my book Costa Blanca Mountain Adventures.

About a half hours downhill walk reaches the start of the barranco. All the while I was checking for possible lines for this ridge and how I might escape if needed. The terrain is complex and serious, and I was very much on my own with almost certainty no others would pass this way today or even this week. So I was being extra careful.

Upon reaching the top of the canyon descent and the initial abseil station, I quickly realised the ridge couldn’t be climbed direct from here. But about 20m back from this point is a subsidiary ridge that this made for a fitting warm up.

I followed ridge as much quite directly and although somewhat loose, it provided good fun and a taste of things to come.

Soon this section merges into the surrounding hillside and I went left up broken ground to gain the main course. I stayed on this as much as possible, but did occasionally revert to the easier ground on the right. This still offers decent scrambling opportunities. Had I been here with a partner, rope and trad gear we’d have stayed on the arete the whole time I’m sure. 

The ridge then narrows to a fine arête and offer’s glorious positions with mega exposure. I stuck to the crest a lot from here onwards, but did bypass the prominent notch on its right side and this was easily done. I did have a sneaky peak from the notch, pretty cool place and glad I had chosen to skirt around the down-climb, would be dodgy without a rope.

Shortly after it’s possible to regain the crest and stay with it until it merges with the summit plateau. The terrain becomes easier but the positions remain pretty wild. There is a large open area of rocky ground at the top and this makes a good place to rest before contemplating the descent.

To descend:

Cross the plateau in a North Eastely direction, dropping slightly then after a very short re-ascent aim for a large cairn poking out of the shrubbery. From there descend East on an ill defined path that’s very difficult to navigate, although intermittent cairns help a little. If unsure, aim for the casita. Once at the casita follow a wide track back to the road and on to the start point.

Total distance is approximately 6km

Time taken today - 4 hours

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Stunning views from Cresta dels Bandolers


Mountain Journey

The narrow Bandolers canyon - Cresta dels Bandolers



Topo for Cresta dels Bandolers



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