I first heard of the Costa Blanca as a climbing destination in the late eighties, stories of endless sheets of limestone, fully bolted huge multi-pitch routes straight up from the deep blue Mediterranean, more virgin rock than you can shake a stick at, I knew it was only a matter of time before I found out for myself.
In 96 the first opportunity arrived, but even with all the stories it didn´t really prepare me for the sheer amount of existing routes. Reality quickly dawned on me, for every route bolted there are hundreds of potential new lines not climbed.
During the first trip I drove through the Guadalest Valley, virgin crag after virgin crag, line after line and all untouched! I started to feel sick, even though I was driving, I decided not to look at the cliffs. But it didn´t help because the cliffs border the road!
I once saw a documentary called "Total Control" it stated that "the Llanberis Pass is littered with magnificent rock". The Costa Blanca isn´t littered with magnificent rock, it´s made of the stuff!
So once a year we visited, cheap flights, cheap car hire, cheap food and perfect weather, what more could you ask for? We would turn up at the crag, wild camp at dusk and break camp at dawn, wild camping is illegal in Spain, so discretion was key, no tent up in the day light. I wanted to do 10 routes a day, but also do some very big things like the 1000m mountain routes, that meant an average of 16 pitches a day! I was in "on-sight" heaven.
It quickly dawned on me that, although on-sighting was what I needed to push my climbing ability at the time, the Blanca offers even better opportunities for working super steep, endurance routes. But that was going to take more than a 10 day visit.
In 2000 with a successful book under my belt, and a wad of money from an Army personal injury claim, I decided to give the Costa Blanca my full attention. With 45 degree overhanging routes that are 40m or 50m long, I seriously had my work cut out. But with the time to apply "sport" tactics for the first time, was really looking forward to the challenge.
In 2003 I established a focal point for climbers on the Costa Blanca with my Wife Sam. The Orange House no longer means that the hard core have to wild camp, and the "softies" can have a nice ensuite room.oHHHhhhH
Climbing wise I´ve been averaging 30 routes a weeks, retro bolted many sport routes with modern gear, and bolted many new lines. The question people ask me the most. "Are you bored of the Blanca?" Well from time to time I do get bored of limestone, however I could never out-climb the Costa Blanca, not in one life time!
Watch this space!
Rich Mayfield and his wife Sam run www.orangehouseclimbing.com. Buy their climbing coaching holidays here.
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