Topo showing - Flor de Luna Ponoch
Flor de Luna Ponoch / Ponoig - E2 / 6a+
Flor de Luna – Moon Flower
The magnificent mountain of Ponoch has drawn me in for years now, almost since my first visit to the Costa Blanca. From a distance it isn’t as distinctive a sight as its neighbour, Puig Campana, but once close to the cliff its scale screams at you. It is massive…..and mostly very steep. So unlike the Puig Campana, there are no easy climbing routes on here.
It actually took quite a few years to turn the dream of climbing on Ponoch to a reality. Almost 4 years ago now, accompanied by Neil, who was with me today. We climbed the big classic of the crag and probably the easiest route. Via Valencianos - E1. This is a 500m monster route and a proper adventure. We loved it.
Then Covid happened and that slowed things somewhat. So last year I managed to get back on this big cliff, that time was with Kim and we climbed Viaje Especial. A bolted 6a+ route and we did around 5 or 6 pitches, it was another amazing outing.
Around the same time, Neil also had a visit to the crag and climbed Flor de Luna Ponoch with his partner Ros. It sounded like a good, but hard route. I wasn’t sure it would be one for me, maybe a little too difficult. Fast forward to a few days ago and a text comes through asking if I’d be interested in having a look at ‘Flor de Luna’…..hmmmmm. Yes when are we going?
As Neil had already climbed the route I was pretty relaxed about route finding and logistics. I’d forgotten just how big this crag is though and the scale of the route means route finding isn’t straightforward, even if not the first time on it.
Neil set off up pitch one and cruised it. Well it’s only a grade 4 apparently. Ha ha, no it isn’t. I took over for the second pitch, also only a grade 4, but felt somewhat more challenging. So overall, not a great start. Another short pitch led us to the crux pitch and Neil was taking this one, thankfully.
From a spacious belay stance, I was able to closely watch Neil as he moved rightwards towards the crux groove. I could see it was going to be a battle, but as ever Neil made light work of it, moving elegantly up the groove and onto a grey slab and to a perch belay with a grandstand view. I set off and it didn’t take long for the difficulties to present themselves. A deep finger pocket provided an excellent hold for my left hand, but using it was excruciatingly painful as the rock was razor sharp.
Confession time now – I used a sling as a point of aid and pulled on a peg….or two! So not a clean ascent for me. With big routes like this it’s about getting up efficiently rather than faffing around for the clean ascent. So I’m still very happy with the result.
I took the next pitch and this was a stunner. Stepping rightwards to gain an arête and this was followed up to a slab at the top of the arête. A double bolt belay stance was right at the top of this arête and this was in a spectacular position and mega exposed. I now also had a good view over to the Via Ferrata and could soon see a group climbing this, but was soon distracted somewhat by the sight of a Golden Eagle soaring just above us, just wow! A Hawk was pestering the Eagle and the two at close quarters gave scale to this huge bird. A rare privilege to see.
Neil cruised the next pitch, this was steeper and pretty tough. The final pitches gave us much wonderful climbing and we had now fully settled into a flow and both were climbing well and just enjoying our surroundings. I led the final pitch which was a big one and gave me plenty of route finding challenges.
By now, cloud had joined us and this was actually quite helpful, keeping us cool and enabling us to pick up details in the rock more easily. We took a quick break and sorted kit, changed shoes before heading over to the abseil station. Before long we were back at base at the girls were waiting for us. Looking back up towards the cliff, clouds now engulfed the upper part of Flor de Luna. Glad we’re not still up there. Glad to have been up there.
Big thanks to Neil for suggestion this and joining me on it as well as leading the crux sections. Top effort.
We offer a variety of adventurous activities in the Costa Blanca region, for more information about this click here
For loads of ideas for mountain days out at more amenable grades please do check out our New Ciceone Guidebook here.
Thanks for reading
Me eyeing up the crux pitch - Flor de Luna Ponoch (photo courtesy of Neil Bowmer)
Neil on the crux pitch - Flor de Luna Ponoch
Efficient stance management is crucial on long mountain routes - Flor de Luna Ponoch
Neil on the final pitch of Flor de Luna Ponoch
Flor de Luna Ponoch