Friday, 26 January 2007

Three days on the Costa

You can get a lot done in three days - a short trip this January to the Costa Blanca gave me the opportunity to do some classic routes on the Alpine sized crags of the Puig Campana and the Ponoch (Ponoig).

The route of Espilon Central with the direct start gives around 400 metres of great climbing up the imposing mountain of the Puig Campana. Climbing with my friend Bruce we had the mountain to ourselves. The top 6 pitches were enveloped in clouds and it was certainly very atmospheric. A serious route as well with some areas of loose rock that have to be avoided. The descent route was not too bad, with a well worn track and cables on the scrambly parts. Certainly worth doing (which I will again on a sunnier day and try the Edwards finish).

We then had a superb day climbing at Rowland and Mark Edwards' (of compasswest) new crag near Finestrat. Superb rock, great lines and amazing scenery will make this a must visit venue, probably just as good as Echo Valley but with more variety of routes.

The last day of this short trip saw us tackle the classic line of Via Valencianos on the Ponoch. at 6a and with the crux section "friggable" it seemed a pretty steady trip, especially as the first 200 metres or so were all more or less scrambling. However the top section of the route is pretty taxing. The crux pitch(s) have to be climbed, there is not enough gear to "cheat" on these. Great pitches they were too. These took a bit longer than we thought as we weren't quite sure of the way on. After the crux there are several more long pitches, and then a long traverse and decent. It took us nearly 9 hours which sounds pretty slow, but we never really ground to a complete halt! A very impressive and exciting route! Some of the other routes on this huge 500 metre clif look awesome, we will be back!

(photos - top the direct start to Espilon Central - bottom on the crux section of Via Valencianos - Ponoch)

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