This is paradise for any rock climber, offering a huge variety of climbing on impeccable Limestone. The region is very large and here we focus on the area north of Alicante and a few of our favourite places.
This is the reason most climbers choose to holiday in the region and it doesn't take long to understand why, the choice is quite staggering. For easy access, roadside crags try Val de Gulabdar (Echo valley) which lies in the shadow of the mighty Ponoch. There's around half a dozen crags in this valley, all are roadside, it's a very quiet road too so no need to worry about traffic noise either.
Then head over to the Jalon valley and Alcalali & Murla crags. These give high quality sport climbing routes from grade 4 right up into the 8's! The vineyards and almonds grooves provide a most captivating backdrop, sometimes time out to sit and stare is necessary.
For many, climbing near the sea is the ultimate, and the Toix crags are the answer. A cluster of single & multi-pitch crags all with stunning sea views without the commitment of a sea-cliff route. Grades here start at 3 and go up all the way to the 7's - something for everyone then.
Those in search of super steep rock need look no further than the crags of Gandia. Here you can enjoy technical climbing on seriously overhanging rock, or maybe just watch as the pro's do their stuff on this impressive crag. There are plenty climbs at Gandia for the 6a leader too. We enjoyed a very full day of climbing here during winter 2015 and climbed nothing above 6a. Every route was fun and interesting too.
Should the Limestone start to get too much, head inland to Montessa. This has a completely different feel to it, more like a hard Sandstone. The routes here are quite short, but pack a punch and well worthwhile. When your fingers are screaming at you to rest, go and explore the castle, it's right by the crag, how cool is that.
Okay, so that's a brief insight into the sport climbing on offer. It really is excellent and enough to keep many people coming back year after year. But there is another side to the rock climbing on the Costa Blanca. The multi-pitch mountain 'trad' adventure routes and semi-bolted sea cliff adventures, all of which are magical.
Espolon Central, Puig Campana
Around 450 metres and 13 pitches of fabulous arete climbing, often with bolted belays but always 'trad' during the pitches. The line of this route is so clear it can be seen from Benidorm!! It begs to be climbed and I can highly recommend it, a brilliant day out and one for everyone's 'to-do' list.
Penon de Ifach
Whilst not quite a sea stack, more a huge Limestone monolith, 332m high. Loads of cool routes, many being in the mid - upper end of the grade range, but for a VS leader, check out 'Via Valencianos' (5+ VS); Diedro UBSA (5+ HVS); or if pushing a little harder there's Polvos Magicos (6a+ E1).
The descent is via the main tourist path up the mountain, so straightforward to follow and if moving quick you can be back at the marina within 20 minutes. Although the bars and restaurants passed on the way may slow you down....paella time
Candelabra del Sol
For a brilliant sea cliff adventure at an amenable grade (HVS 5+), 'Magical Mystery Tour' is a tough one to beat. A 40m abseil approach sets the tone. These cliffs can be very hot so go prepared. Scrambling and easy climbing allows the mind to adjust to where you are, then the proper climbing begins. With the sea lapping 30m below and nothing but fresh air between your feet and the big swim, stepping around the exposed arete takes nerve for both leader and second, such a beautiful situation. From here all the way to the top the climb increases in difficulty, just as a climb ought to, magical indeed. This is a partially bolted route, so a light rack is required. All belays are bolted.
It's worth leaving an abseil rope in-situ if you have a spare. That way if you meet unforeseen problems the abseil rope will offer a means of escape.
If 'new routing' is your thing, take a walk into the mountains. There are thousands of potential lines waiting for first ascents. From easy grade, scrambling type routes right through to big overhanging lines, take your pick and go for it, just don't forget a bucket of boldness. Beware, the mountain areas have much loose rock.
For an energetic break from rock climbing, there are numerous ridge traverses in the area, each providing exciting days out in the high mountains.
Bernia ridge (4+ V'diff) - this gives km's of exposed scrambling of the highest quality. A couple of abseils mean at least a 40m rope is required and 10 quickdraws for the short climbing sections. Allow a full day to enjoy this to the max and don't forget to take plenty of water, there's none on the ridge. The start / finish is right by the restaurant on the north side of the ridge. Perfect for post traverse refreshments, with sublime views from the terrace as afternoon light falls onto the ridge.
Castellets ridge / El Realet (4+ V'diff) - if you're looking to beef up your ridge scramble adventures, this one's for you. Although still at the 4+ grade, this traverse sees less traffic, has less in-situ gear, more loose rock, and feels wilder. The route finding is straightforward and the outlook towards Puig Campana absolutely stunning. A brilliant day out and highly recommended. A 60m single rope is enough to safely get down the abseils. The descent route requires care as it's very loose and not obvious (the only section that isn't). Having 2 cars is very handy for this trip, otherwise it's a long walk back to the start.
Toix ridge - Este & Oeste (4+ V'diff) - there are numerous ways of completing this traverse, we found a really nice combination that is briefly described here. Starting at Toix Este, with the sea below and fine views of the Penon, climb any of the long routes that lead to the top of the crag, Espolon Arta is about grade 4 and provides a fun way to the top. By the top, I mean the Mirador, there's a small road here (used by the TV companies to access the masts on Toix), follow this towards the main Toix Oeste crags and choose a route on Placa Upper, go all the way to the ridge. The routes on Placa Upper are sport climbs, but you will need to climb / scramble above the top of the climbs to reach the ridge, go for it - but be extra careful not to dislodge rocks onto climbers below. Once on the ridge follow it all the way back to the TV masts. A single rope and a few slings is enough gear for the route. Amazing coastal views and a brilliant day out.
What else is there to do?
Where to stay
The Jalon valley and coastal town of Calpe both make a lot of sense, providing amenities, easy access to crags, good links to Alicante airport, and plentiful accommodation of all types. Benidorm is worth considering too as there are sometimes good bargains to be had to this resort.
Accommodation, flights, car hire, and food are all very good value in this part of the world. So you'll likely pay less than expected, never a bad thing.
What to take
Rockfax produce an excellent guide to the area and this is a must for the visiting climbing. 'Spain: Costa Blanca' by Chris Craggs & Alan James
To maximise your time on the crags whilst in the Costa Blanca , why not hire us to guide you for the day or a week? We know the crags and mountains very well and can suggest venues best suited to your style of climbing, we can provide all the equipment too and offer very competitive rates.