Via Pany Calpe
It's been a while since we climbed on the Peñon and high time we went back to explore more of it's fantastic climbing.
I'd been wanting to climb on the North face and had the route of 'Via Pany' in mind, Kim was game for it too, so off we went.
Via Pany: Very Severe - 215m - 7 pitches
Even on a Saturday the crag was empty, of climbers at least, there were plenty of Gulls! The approach walk is easy and the start obvious due to a large clearing below the chimney pitch. We briefly discussed who would be leading, it turned out i'd be leading the whole route, bonus!
I set off up the chimney with a full trad rack weighing me down. This felt a bit odd after so much sport climbing and going lightweight. So my initial moves were on the slow side. Also I spent a little longer than usual placing gear, again, it's been a while. The final moves of pitch 1 were over a bulge, this proved quite tough, but well protected. By the time I reached the bolted belay station I was already feeling completely at home back on a trad route, it felt amazing.
Pitch 2 was an easy scramble with some bush bashing thrown in to keep it interesting. So far the climbing is straightforward and the scenery is becoming increasingly impressive.
Pitch 3 was apparently another easy pitch of grade 3 climbing. It felt much harder than this, with a very tricky move to exit a short chimney.
Pitch 4 looked a bit more daunting, a steep chimney! This pitch turned out to be wonderful climbing on superb rock with good protection easily arranged the whole way.
Pitch 5 was another easy pitch, maybe grade 3 with a few moves of 4+. The views and overall atmosphere compensated for the lack of difficult climbing.
Pitch 6 seemed like it was going to offer a bit more technicality and it did. Top quality climbing up a fine slab before meeting a crack system and following this with interest all the way to the next belay. An excellent pitch with as much natural protection as wanted.
Pitch 7 the final pitch, taking us up to the summit of El Penon de Ifach. A hard move off the belay ledge soon led to easy climbing and scrambling up a groove and on to the summit. A group of English and Irish students were doing summit selfies as I arrived.
Rock fax award this route 2 stars in their 2013 Costa Blanca guide. I'd agree with that. The climbing is good quality, if it was more continuous then 3 stars could be awarded.
Descent from the summit is straightforward, following a well maintained footpath all the way back into Calpe. Coffee and cake at a seafront cafe seemed an appropriate finish to a grand day out.
And if wanting a reliable source of information about mountain adventures please do check out our newly published Cicerone Guidebook Costa Blanca Mountain Adventures