Mountain Journeys

The Penon Calpe: Happy New Year – Sea Stack Climbing


The glorious north face of El Peñon d-Ifach

The Penon Calpe

Happy new year everyone. Thank you all so much for your support, we are super grateful 🙂

It has been a year of pretty intense highs and lows, I'm sure that's the same for many folk out there. We'll keep this climbing related though, and that side of things has been ace.

Whilst much of the UK suffered a rather wet summer season, the Lake District was much drier than usual, meaning mountain crags were climbable for many days over summer. We did our best to take advantage of this and did manage to climbing on the Esk Buttress and on the East Buttress of Scafell. Both very special places, really hope we can visit them more often.

We enjoyed a very busy summer and all through autumn too, having fun in the canyons and gorges, scrambling, climbing, abseiling, and many guided walks. Again, thank you all so much for joining us.

At the beginning of December, I escaped to Spain and Kate is due to join shortly. For a winter holiday and some personal development. Work here in Spain is on hold for us for now, whilst Brexit continues to unfold. We hope to be able to offer activities here again in the coming years, but for now the winter trips to Spain will be purely for holidays.

I like to keep busy though, even on holiday. The Cicerone guidebook I've been working on 'Costa Blanca Mountain Adventures' has now been submitted to the publishers so hopefully only a short way to go now before that's available to purchase. With that work complete, it has allowed for more climbing time on routes I may not normally be looking at. More difficult routes in some cases. And this brings me on to our final day of 2021. What to do for New Years eve, hmmmm.

Okay, let's go and climb a really hard (for me) route on The Peñon in Calpe. This venue was chosen as the weather is currently very warm so we needed a north facing crag in order not to melt. Only having climbed 1 route on the north face this seemed a good opportunity to try another. So we opted for 'Verde Esmeralda' an E2 / 6a+ multi-pitch climb.

In a nutshell, this route is fantastic and well worth climbing for anyone operating at HVS / 6b and possessing a high sense of adventure.

Verde Esmeralda - E2 / 6a+  100m
Start by the small cave just before the tunnel on the main path.

Pitch 1: 30m 4+ Climb just left of the cave, battling though a small tree to reach a wide and impressive groove. Continue up this following a few fixed threads. A stance is reached about 10m below the obvious orange roof. Belay here.

Pitch 2: 10m 4+ Continue towards the big roof, trending right to reach a bolt on the lower lip, move right again and up to the bolted belay. This is a hanging belay, so worth getting as comfortable as possible.

Pitch 3: 20m 6a+ This pitch is fully bolted and the bolts are pretty close together for the hard moves. Make wild moves directly up from the belay (using your belayers shoulder helps), all on big jugs but the terrain is severely steep. Keep going and very soon the angle eases and the climbing becomes more enjoyable. Climb the slab trending slightly left to reach a more comfortable belay with a single large staple bolt.
Pitch 4: 30m 5 Move left from the belay into a bushy corner, climb the corner system above with provides delightful climbing. At a small ledge move right onto a slab with a couple of small red dots, follow this to a small pinnacle then make an awkward move to gain the upper slab. Clip the bolt above then move back down slightly and traverse left a couple of metres before going upward again to reach a comfortable ledge with bolt and peg belay.

Pitch 5: 10m 4 Go rightwards to gain a shallow groove and follow this to the top.

Descent: Ascend slightly then traverse via the easiest line until a rocky scree gully can be seen, descend into this and follow it down to the path.

What an amazing way to round off the year. I hope you've all had a great start to 2022 and your year is filled with joy, positivity, and adventure.
Thanks for reading

Mark 🙂


Kim arriving at the hanging stance below the crux pitch


Views are every bit as good as the climbing



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