Rock Climbing Ponoch
Today we went for a big adventure on the largest crag in the region of Costa Blanca. Although not quite as high or as well known as neighbouring Puig Campana, this is without doubt the most impressive lump of rock in the region. Some routes are 500m+ and all are demanding undertakings, typically with big run-outs and hard climbing.
Having previously climbed the big classic 'Via Valencianos' E1/6a I was keen for more of what Ponoch has to offer but preferred a sport route to ease route finding. When I say 'sport route' what I mean is there are very sparingly placed bolts and equipped belays. That's to be expected on a crag as big as this.
So it was decided we would climb 'Viaje Espacial' a 6a/E1 with the final pitches having either no or very limited fixed gear. We didn't intend to bother with these pitches, but took a trad rack just in case.
Pitch 1 is the same as Valencianos so I knew this one but hadn't led it. I remember it having an interesting move about half way up. This took some working out but once beyond this it was a breeze to the belay on a massive ledge. A short walk right brought us to the base of the next pitch, also a 6a and fairly long at 45m. It tackled a wall directly and felt quite steady.
Pitch 3 headed rightwards and although was a lower grade pitch (5) it felt just as difficult, in fact all pitches felt pretty equal in terms of difficulty. A small belay ledge was reached and by now I was getting really hot from the exertion. I should have taken some time out for food and drink but for some reason decided not to. That was a mistake.
Pitch 4 was simply magnificent giving some of the best climbing I've done in quite some time. Very steep at times and always super exposed. However, by the time I reached the next belay ledge I was feeling wasted and knew I was becoming dehydrated and needed to act. So after a quick re-fuelling break we took the decision to head back down.
We were only 1 pitch short of the top but it would have been foolish to continue. Thankfully I soon started to feel much better (top tip, always carry a Go Gel or similar with you) which was helpful as the abseil descent gave us some problem solving to deal with.
We used 2 guidebooks to get information about the route. Firstly the Rockfax Costa Blanca and this was complimented by the local guide 'Ponotx' by Manuel Bernabeu. If wanting to explore this mountain more, it is the local guide you'll be needing, it offers 100 routes, all are full days out. All will be memorable.
There are a few more routes on here I have my eye on, hopefully another will get ticked on this visit so watch this space. Back to some single pitch sport climbing tomorrow 🙂
Thanks for reading and thanks to Kim for coming on this adventure with me.