The climbing in the Costa Blanca is all on limestone (hence Costa Blanca meaning White Coast). The crags range from single pitch, generously bolted, sport routes to almost alpine sized mountain routes with natural gear. Some of the climbing is of true classic nature: Penon D'Ifach, a thousand foot solid lump of rock sticks straight up out of the sea and towers over Calpe, the beautiful valley of Sella where you can be surrounded by crisp limestone crags or the awesome Puig de Campana (how does 13 pitches sound?).
But enough of the sales blurb, here is a list of a few of the crags that I have climbed on with any helpful tips that I can think of:
( Check out the map on the RockFax site to locate these areas )
Alicante / Vinalopo Valley (Inland from Alicante)
Probably the question I get asked most frequently is whether there is any bouldering in the Costa Blanca well I am pleased to say that I finally have some details.
MontessaOne of the first places that I heard about was Montessa. Get the local guide, "La Mola de Montesa - 2003", from the local climber cafe, Camil's Rock Bar. This covers loads of routes and all 40 boulder problems with colour topos. The bouldering is on some great free standing blocks.
Simon Jacques' Article
Simon Jacques, who has spent several trips to the Costa Blanca investigating the possibilities of bouldering on the coast has written an article, An Alien On The White Coast - Costa Blanca Bouldering, that has been published on the UKClimbing website. This article mentions various areas and has topos to the boulders that he has developed at Olta.
Castell de Castells
Richard Davies has developed some boulders in a river bed near Castell de Castells. He has produced another of his high quality guides to these problems that can be found on his web site, Costa Blanca Rock. Just click on the Bouldering link in the 'Topos and Latest Information' table.
Platja Les Arenetes
There is a beach at Denia, near Les Rotes, which had some of the first bouldering that I heard about.
Al Evans has recently discovered another area for potential development in the river Ebo. He recently posted the following directions:
Take the road from Pego to Val de Ebo turn left down a track by the side of Rio Ebo, its immediately after you cross the bridge. Park at the end of the track and simply walk down the river.
The best place is a longish walk for bouldering, about an hour, a few hundred mts before the start of Barranco D' Infierno. But the first area is just about 10 minutes, but some of the possibilities look hard.Thanks to Al Evans for these directions.
DWS, like everything else on the Costa Blanca, is developing at an amazing pace. It was only a couple of years ago when I had no details whatsoever now there appears to be enough areas developed that you could spend an entire week's trip doing nothing else but deep water solos.
Psicobloque is a Spanish website written purely to cover DWSs on the Costa Blanca. It's a well built website with a vast number of routes detailed in full colour topos. There is also a downloadable pdf guide (in both high and low quality) so that you can print it off and take it with you.
Rockfax publish Deep Water, a guide to deep water soloing throughout the UK and Europe. This covers some of the areas on the Costa Blanca that were developed by the first of the Orange House's Deep Water Festivals (see below).
Deep Water Festival
Climber's Magazine Article
Following on from this development an article appeared in Oct '06 issue of the Climber magazine. This is a detailed guide to the DWS routes and includes topos for each of the individual areas of development.
Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be a way to order back issues from their website.
I have recently been asked by a local climber to add a section to this website that details the sort of respect that everyone should apply when visiting the Costa Blanca to climb. As someone who has derived a great deal of pleasure from climbing on "someone else's rock" this seemed like a good idea to me.
So far we have come up with the following points that we hope everyone would abide by. They basically come down to showing common courtesy:
This is a new protection device that was developed by Rowland Edwards, the man behind the Compass West climbing school. The idea is that it fits into a drilled hole in the rock and can not be seen from the ground. A Wild Country size 3 rock can be fitted into the ENP vertically and then twisted. As it twists a spring locks the nut into the ENP.
Rowland describes these devices as an adventure protection device that is not intended to be as bomb proof as a bolt and adds that each climber should judge the protection for themselves.
Rowland's ethic with these devices is to use them on normal adventure routes but only in sections where natural gear cannot be used. So if you intend to climb any of these routes of Rowland's then bring a full rack plus a few extra size 3 rocks for the ENPs.
I have encountered these devices on the Rowlands Magical Mystery Tour route where they were being used to protect a stance. Unfortunately there was already a rock stuck in one of them. This does not bode well for the future of these devices but we will have to wait and see. Certainly on a route which would normally have been bolted, as routes often are in Spain, then the ENP does appear to be a step forward.
There is now a second version of this device called the Super ENP or SENP for short. The device was redesigned so that the hole that was needed was much smaller. This made it easier for battery powered drills to cope. Just to confuse matters the new SENP requires a size 5 RP so if you intend to do any routes equipped with this device then make sure you have some extra size 5 RPs with you.
The latest RockFax guide details exactly which device is used on which routes and in what numbers, so this is another reason for updating your guide. However for those with an older edition or Chris Craggs' guide, or even one of the local guides then be warned that these routes are common in the Echo Valley. There are also a couple on the Puig de Campana and the Candelabra del Sol area of Toix Sea cliffs.
If anyone has any comments or opinions on these devices then I would love to hear them. - firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Craggs expresses his opinion:
Thanks to Chris Craggs for this comment.
It is also worth noting that:
Thanks to Chris for these details.
My Favourite Routes
I have added a section to each of the crag pages which contains my favourite route to date. This will be a route that has stuck in my mind for whatever reason; whether it be particularly sustained in its grade or maybe it has distinctly exposed sections.
I have also added a new page where you can vote for your favourite routes: Favourite Routes. Please do use this page to help others have an enjoyable trip.