Moving slightly further South to Calpe, we find the largest sea stack in Europe, El Peñon d'Ifach. Rising to 332m straight from the sea this is one amazing sight and a very popular tourist destination in its own right.
The South and North faces offer loads of excellent multi-pitch climbs starting at VS / 5+ and rising to the high 7's. The easier routes should not be under-estimated though as they are long and demanding routes that have become polished over the years. All the routes i've climbed on El Peñon have felt harder than their grades suggest.
Our chosen route was Via Valencianos, a VS / 5+ with around 8 pitches of fairly sustained climbing all the way to the summit. Even though we were climbing on a Sunday, we had the route to ourselves and the whole cliff seemed quiet, with just one other team spotted on Diedro UBSA.
There is a distinct 'crux' pitch on this route, the slippery corner! Like many, we resorted to aid techniques to surmount this section. Focusing on the polish would make the pitch almost unbearable, so instead try to focus on the fun and intensity of aid climbing. Something a little bit different and strangely enjoyable. Above this lies the huge upper slab, this provides superb climbing and positions all the way to the ridge. 2 - 3 more pitches takes us to the summit for yet more stunning views over Calpe and the surrounding area.
Two very different and very worthwhile routes. Both above the sea, with fairly easy access and continuous rock climbing from start to finish. And here's the bonus. Both have excellent beaches, restaurants, and cafes nearby for post climb swims, paddles, beers, cakes, etc!
What are you waiting for, get these gems on the to-do list for 2017 and make it happen.
If you'd prefer a guide for the day, we know these climbs and many others in the area very well and would happily arrange this for you.
Big thanks to Stig, Oda, Ann, and Kate for sharing a rope with me this week 🙂