Hot rock on the Costa Blanca!

It's been a long time since I posted anything on this blog!  Over the last year I have been writing an instructional manual for the British Antarctic Survey, and I'm pleased to say that it's in the final stages of formatting before going to print!  With the next Antarctic season rapidly approaching it's time to start thinking about packing up for another 3 months in the frozen South!

Mairi and I managed to sneak a quick trip in to the Costa Blanca last month.  It was amazing to be climbing on warm, dry rock (although we both definitely had the occasional moan about it being too hot!).

We stayed in a small village near Benidorm called Finestrat, which lies beneath the impressive limestone mountain of the Puig Campana (1406m).  This trip was definitely a holiday and not an expedition!  We had very little in the way of set objectives and were keen to enjoy some climbing, good food and time at the beach!  We were however very keen to make an ascent of the Puig Campana via the mega classic Espolon Central route.  

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Espolon Central is not a difficult climb, going at approx Hard Severe in UK money.  Before our trip I had read a few articles online about the route, some people claiming it to be the best multi-pitch route they have ever done - I particularly liked this account http://davetalbot.net/puig-campana/

I am pleased to say that the climb did not disappoint!  The guidebook describes the route in 13 pitches (a couple of very short ones that we linked).  The route was interesting and enjoyable throughout and in an incredible position overlooking the party towns of Bennidorm, Calp and Alicante.  The exposure on this route is brilliant with some really memorable belays.  Although relatively accessible with less than an hours walk in the route had a very Alpine feel to it!

This route does not take you to the true summit of Puig Campana, although you can continue on to it if you desire standing on "the top".  We followed the guidebook descent which takes a long traverse rightwards after pitch 13, following a series of via-ferrata style cables to join the normal walkers route.  I had read stories of people struggling to find this descent route but it seemed very straight forward.  Ending up on the wrong route could be really scary and potentially very dangerous, and not something I would want to do in the dark, as was described by some people on ukclimbing.com!

We didn't make a speed ascent of the route but climbed all of the pitches in a leisurely 7 hours.  As always a great climb is made even better when I get to share it with Mairi (aww!).  This one was even better as it was her birthday!