Sun & Bolts in the Costa Blanca
In September this year I first saw the iconic 'Penon de Ifach' whilst on a family holiday in Costa Blanca. "I need to climb that!" I told the wife. Little did I know I actually would later on this year, whilst on a trip with Jamie Ward, Marcus Harvey & Chris Comerie.
After departing from each corner of the country, we assembled in Benidorm at our hotel for the trip, and started to discuss potential routes over several pints of Amstel.
Day One saw us at a crag called Marin, which was not far from the local Decathalon store that required a visit due to a lack of climbing shoes from one party member! Once the shoes had been sorted we made our way to the crag, a mere 10 mins walk from the parking. It was my chance to get a feel for bolted routes, as I had never climbed on these sort of routes, and had no idea of the different grading system.
I climbed with Jamie, while Marcus & Chris took to the harder stuff. Jamie & I climbed Petreles & Manolito at Sector Senda, before having lunch and then pushing the grade a notch on El sexo sentido and Novatos con gato, followed by some more multi-pitch action on a mixture of Placa gris/Kiki (first pitch of one route & second pitch on the other due to a crowded belay!) and finishing the day on a Top 50 called Jhony. That evening it was decided to hit the Penon the next day, so much deliberation over more beer and wine took place.
It was decided we needed to get to the crag for 9am, as Chris & Marcus needed as much daylight as possible to tackle Via Gomez-Cano (E3 6b). Jamie & I flew up Via Valencianos (VS 5+) in time for a spot of late lunch on the summit, and wandered down to a bar in Calpe to discuss the possible outcomes of the other's hard route over yet more beers. After two pints we headed round to the face to see Marcus (or a dot that looked like him) on the final pitch, just as the sky was becoming more and more orange!
To allow them time to descend the path, we thought it best to have another pint, before welcoming them back to the car with some mixed emotions! They got to the top (and down) in one piece and ticked the biggest route of the week.
The next day was the final climbing day for Chris & I, so we all headed over to Sierra de Toix, which is at the other end of Calpe. With a slightly sore head Jamie & I did Espolon Limaban, another Top 50 with a layback flake for most of the second pitch. This was followed by Oma Sus, 4-pitches (4,3,4,5) with not very many bolts (at least the line I took), and a cracking sustained multipitch called Ruwa (5,3,5,5). This left us on the top to finish off the day with a ridge walk on the Toix Ridge.
Marucs & Jamie stayed for the rest of the week, which was all in all a great trip to the Costa Blanca.