Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Costa Blanca - Tom Bonnert


For the past two years in the winter school half term a group of climbers from the midlands have headed off to Fontainebleau for some cold weather bouldering. This year we fancied a change and the cold British weather spurred us on to travel to warmer climates. Southern Spain seemed like the perfect place…

After a busy and crowded flight we landed in Alicante to find the sun shining and the temperature well into double figures, we picked up our minivans and headed off for our villa. The drive north along the coast was very pleasant and we were already looking out the windows and seeing some of the crags Costa Blanca has to offer.

The first day of climbing was at a place called Sella, one of the most popular crags in Costa Blanca. The walk in was short and the climbing was amazing. I started things off with “Martin Galas” F6b+, which was a surprisingly tricky route with a tricky crimpy crux in the middle. Definitely got the fingers going on this route. Then I went on and did “El Torronet” F5+. “Kashba” F6c+ was next on the tick list, which is considered to be one of the best routes at Sella. I got the on sight on this route and it was really good climbing. After Kashba we felt like some more of the steep climbing. “No me bajes tan...” F7a fitted perfectly. It is described as “grab the side-pull and jump!” and they weren’t wrong. Good sending for our first day and I was really psyched for the rest of the week.

The second day started with a trip to Sierra De Toix. For a target I had set for later in the week we decided to get some practice in on some multi pitch climbing. “Espol√≥n Limaban” F5 was a really nice three star route, first pitch F4 and second pitch F5. We learnt a lot on the route, the most important being never climb in the shade in Spain mid-February for a long duration of time, its freezing! – Lesson one!

The afternoon saw us at a venue called Los Pinos, a steep overhanging wall just off the road. There was some really impressive climbing at this crag and I thought it would be a good place to try one of my targets of the week. F8a. I climbed “Route 3” F7a+ first before going for an F8a. “Jog Jog” F8a was the route I decided to try, a short and powerful route through a roof. I worked it from the ground and then pulled on. This was my first F8a and I on sighted it.

The next day we aimed to go to Bernia but due to taking the wrong road ended up at Murla instead, Having learnt the previous day not to climb in the shade, we found ourselves standing below a huge leaning wall with the sun around the corner, and not looking likely to be coming around on to the face till at least late afternoon, typical. Once warmed up I got on a very crimpy route called “Tendonator” F7b, which I got the on sight on. Lunch eaten I got on “Route 17” F7c+. I tried working this but I was very tired and the rock was so sharp, a flapper would not have been good as I still had three more days climbing.

Wildside at Sella was our next place to visit as people had claimed it to be world class climbing, and it most certainly was. After warming up on a F6c+ I moved onto something to try red pointing. “El Gremio” F7c+ seemed perfect… Which it would have been if I were on the right route. Poor topo reading meant that I was actually on the F8a+ just to the left of El Gremio – lesson two. Always read the topo carefully. Described as a two-crux route, on my on sight attempt of the route I got past the first crux to the fall on the second crux. Once I found out I was on the wrong route I was very spurred on by my effort on it. I then moved to work the right route and had one good redpoint attempt on “El Gremio” but I was too tired to link it. I shall have to come back to this.

Day five was when my plan of a big multi pitch would be put into practice. It was probably one of the most memorable moments of the holiday as we were going to climb the eight pitch “El Navigante” F7a on the Penon De Ilfach, a huge and impressive wall sticking out into the sea near a town called Calpe. The route was the most serious route I have ever done and the sense that I was up there with my friend (Sarah Pashley) was quite scary. The route was very intimidating from the ground and setting off felt very committing. On pitch four I veered off route (remember lesson two!!) and ended up snapping a hand and foothold and plummeting 15m down the face of the cliff. Nevertheless we soldiered on through some amazing climbing. Favourite section of the route was pitch six F6c, which was really exposed and had some stunning climbing on it. Topping out felt amazing and looking down on what we just climbed was breathtaking. My Evolv Optimus Primes stood up very well to this long multi pitch route and despite them being a down turned, serious boot which I also used on my 8a, they were really comfy for the duration of the route. They were an excellent boot for the trip, which I wore every day, all week.

The last day was a trip to Gandia. The weather was the best on this day and I was very psyched for mileage and a lot of three star routes. I did “Nina De PorcelanaF6a+, “El SolF6b+,”Amarrada Al PilloF6b, “Enya” F7b+, “PereF6c+ and “PepestroikaF6b. All these routes were great climbs and it was a superb finish to an amazing week.

Superb week in Spain and I was incredibly psyched when I got back for some hard training towards my competitions this year. I will keep you posted on my 2012 antics.

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