Archive for ‘October, 2013’

I will start at the most recent and work my way back with this blog as it feels like so much has happened in the last week, but to be quite honest I want to write about the best part of the week first which included 6 pitches of climbing on the South Face of Penon d’Ifach.

South Face and the Penon, Calpe - spot the climbers!

South Face and the Penon, Calpe – spot the climbers!

On my first visit to the area over three years ago I stood beneath the South Face and gauped with the rest of the ‘tourists’ at climbers managing to scale this intimidating cliff. Last Monday however, Duncan and I managed to climb what is said to be one of the best routes in the area. The aptly named ‘Costa Blanca’ has six pitches 6b, 6b, 6a, 6b+, 6b+, 6c+ and gave a brilliant day out – one that I will remember for some time. The climbing had a bit of everything from steep juggy grooves and cracks to tenuous slabs with an impressive finale monkeying around with plenty of air beneath the feet!

Loads of great climbing on the 'Costa Blanca'

Loads of great climbing on the ‘Costa Blanca’

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Duncan on the first 6b+ pitch. Smooth technical climbing in a sea of limestone!

Duncan on the first 6b+ pitch. Smooth technical climbing in a sea of limestone!

Its what its all about, a memorable day....

Its what its all about, a memorable day….

6th pitch (6b+) cruising after some great tufa climbing

6th pitch (6b+) cruising after some great tufa climbing

Duncan making wild moves out the cave on the top pitch 6c+

Duncan making wild moves out the cave on the top pitch 6c+

Last Sunday we had a mini epic which involved flat tyres, no spare and being moved on from an idilic camping spot not to mention attempting a route which turned into a bit of a loose nightmare.

Had to happen at some stage!

Had to happen at some stage!

Putting that day aside Last Saturday and Sunday we happened to be a bit further south and made good use of visiting two crags I had never been to before (one particuarly impressive venue was the Main Cliff at Leyva but more about that in a minute). The only single pitch day we had was spent at La Panocha close to Murcia. The day was spent on just two 14m routes, first up was the slippery ‘Cachondeo (6c+)’ which Duncan dispatched in little or no time before we got a top rope on ‘Matas – Gines (7b+)’. I have to admit this was my first taste of a route at this grade which made us both especially happy to link all but two moves (crux) within our short time frame. The description says it all ‘Fierce face climbing up the wall……’ maybe one for a future visit?

Duncan ready to start working 'Matas - Gines 7b+'

Duncan ready to start working ‘Matas – Gines 7b+’

Leyva Main Face is pretty impressive. The vast wall requires an hour walk but as the book says it is one of, if not the best multi-pitch crag in the guidebook. solid rock, new bolts and superbly thought out anchors and abseil stations meant that our first day climbing was always going to be hard to beat! We started the week with an ascent of Fisura Carrillo – Vera (6a+, 6b+, 6a). Put simply its the most striking line up the cliff, massive pitches too with the crux being the shortest at 38m! A great day and one that will be hard to beat on this tour of Spain.

Approach to Leyva Main Face, some of the best rock around the Costa Blanca

Approach to Leyva Main Face, some of the best rock around the Costa Blanca

Duncan getting me 'psyched for the crux pitch on 'Carrillo Vera 6b+'

Duncan getting me ‘psyched for the crux pitch on ‘Carrillo Vera 6b+’

38m of great climbing

38m of great climbing

Steep last pitch was 54m!

Steep last pitch was 54m!

Duncan has now retuned to the UK to get stuck into the OMM race at the weekend. Jane, the dogs and I will slowly make out way down to Almeria and Granada before meeting up with Davie again for a session around El Chorro……..

Off to sample the great beaches of the Costa Almeria....

Off to sample the great beaches of the Costa Almeria….

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Room with a view!

Room with a view!

We have traveled South since my last post, currently at a really nice Aires outside Alicante called Camper Park San Fulgenico recharging batteries and generally chilling out in the sunshine. We are back to wild camping for a couple of days before meeting up with Chris and Fi for a good old drink before Duncan flys in for 5 days of climbing.

The wrist is feeling better so hopefully we will manage a good haul of route over the next few days, updates to follow…..

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Tapas Barcelona

Tapas Barcelona

Well we have been in Spain nearly a week. We visited Barcelona for the day which was brilliant before getting soaked by the most amazing thunderstorm either of us have seen in years. Barcelona was amazing and certainly somewhere we could both spend a few days or a week but leaving the dogs in the van and with just a few hours to spare we made the most of Tapas Bars, beer, wine and even cocktails before heading back to the campsite and van.

f6B @ El Cogul

f6B @ El Cogul

f6A @ El Cogul

f6A @ El Cogul

We have since travelled North to boulder at El Cogul. This tiny little village is home to a great selection of sandstone boulders and problems situated in the picturesque countryside close to the City of Lleida. The boulders are actually spread out on a dirt track which links the villages of El Cogul and L’Albages, there is plenty of parking along the track and many problems on shaded faces. I am certainly no boulderer and Jane even less so but she was keen to have a crack and I was interested to see what I could do. I am sure the hardcore ‘noropes’ team among you will be saying its way to hot for bouldering but with cool mornings and pleasant late afternoons we were happy to play about and enjoy this beautiful setting.

Pulling hard on f6C El Cogul. No names in our guidebook which is a shame....

Pulling hard on f6C El Cogul. No names in our guidebook which is a shame….

f6B @ El Cogul

f6B @ El Cogul

Jane managed her first three problems and even worked a certain 4+ for over an hour which was impressive for someone with no climbing background or much interest in the sport!!?? My final tally above 6 was: three f6A, two  f6A+, one f6B, one f6B+ and one f6C. I managed to strain my wrist trying one of the harder routes which is going to take a bit of rest before Duncan comes out to join us for a few days further South. I was pretty happy with f6C however touching an f7A problem was unreal and I cannot begin to imagine how to work those kind of routes! What was even more unreal was meeting Mac from CasaCatalunya as he was parking up to have an evening at sector El Doctorat. Unbelievable that you can travel so far from the UK in the middle of nowhere and still meet someone that is originally from Chorley just a few miles from the town I grew up in!

Jane actually enjoying a bit of bouldering! Great stuff.....

Jane actually enjoying a bit of bouldering! Great stuff…..

Happy days in the sun!

Happy days in the sun!

Over two days we climbed at sector El Comalla, Mestre Mutent and Els Camps. My guidebook doesn’t have the names of the routes we did only the grades unfortunately. I hope to meet up with Ken and Graeme for a few days but for now I am resting the wrist in preparation for Duncan coming over in 10 days time.

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Enjoying the French Riviera

Enjoying the French Riviera

P1070731Not done too much climbing over the last week although Jane and I have been having a great time on the beaches and mingling with the rich and famous of the French Riviera! Not exactly what I thought it was going to be nor did I particularly feel like it was for me but a good experience nonetheless. We had a great meal at The Grange in La Beausset where we shared a MASSIVE steak between two and some great wine. Right now we are parked up at Camping Sainte Victoire where we have been for the last couple of days. There is simply loads of climbing on off vertical pale limestone to be had here but as its just me and the family right now we settled for a walk up to the Col which leads to the rocky summit. At close to 30 degrees it really was too hot for our woolly dogs and so cutting short the summit we made our way back to the van to lounge around it the sun and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Steak for two at Le Grange

Steak for two at Le Grange

St Tropez

St Tropez

Jumbo size sweets!!!!

Jumbo size sweets!!!!

 

Planning the next step......

Planning the next step……

Tomorrow we put in some mileage with a drive to Perpignan situated in the Eastern Pyrenees. From here we plan to have a day or two seeing Barcelona then on to Llieda to meet up with Ken for a couple of days sampling the best Spain has to offer – bring it on!

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