‘Costa Blanca’s Mini Cuillin’
Costa Blanca is probably more famously known for Benidorm than anything else, but the mountain ranges here are extensive, there is a long history of climbing and mountaineering in the region. Who knew that within touching distance of the sea, stands Puig Campana at over 1400m followed by other ranges all over 1000m!
It’s limestone, not my favourite type of rock to climb on, let alone go wandering round the mountains on slabs of polish, here’s the thing though, yes there is some glassy sheen on some climbs which is easily avoidable, but the quality of the limestone allows your footwear to stick to it, it’s incredible- although if it rains you're in trouble!
Last week, one of my clients had a tick list - it had 1 route on it, pretty easy to tick that I thought….except it wasn’t as simple as that.
The Bernia ridge was an unknown, it’s visible from all around and looks long, I was keen to sample it as it’s the type of day that I enjoy most. The drive from Finestrat was not helped by the car sat nav trying to take us down unpaved roads, but we parked up at a premium spot. I do love it when you can drive 3/4 of the way up a mountain!
It took us about an hour to follow the path up to the tunnel that goes right through the ridge. Obviously I got very excited at the prospect of exploring this and and shot through it crab crawling like a demented caver on a mission of discovery. After much bumbling around I couldn’t find the ‘starting col’ and standing below the towering cliffs I had no idea how we were supposed to even get on it, “this is going well” I thought! Luckily I had mentioned to Branwen and Steve whilst discussing kit to bring the previous evening that a ‘sense of humour’ should also be packed and fell back to this as poor excuse for my ‘sat nav’ failure.
After a lightbulb moment of checking several guides to the ridge - one of them said ‘do not go through the tunnel…’ Oops! Quick crab crawl back and we eventually got to the starting col and our first glimpse of the ridge. Wow….I definitely swore with pleasure, it looked so much better than I had imagined or seen photos of.
I’m not going to describe the route here as it’s been done quite widely and it would take away the element of adventure, although it felt that some of the descriptions I used were written by someone after a week on the beers….or they were describing a different ridge!
I would agree with the title of ‘Costa Blanca’s Mini Cuillin’. It’s exposed, exciting, airy, adventurous, committing (once you’ve pulled your ropes on an ab early on, unless you can lead 6c, then you’re going 1 way!) and great value. It’s never more than grade 2/3 (UK scrambling grade), it’s bolted for the abseils and there’s a 4+ sport climb in the middle of it to offer a little fun! Faded red dots mark the way….
We completed the technical sections and arrived at the mid point to autograph the notebook. I’d got some knowledge that you could actually ab off and bail here - it’s probably a grade 2 scramble in descent. Just like the Cuillin, we then descended a few hundred metres of scree!
I think it’s fair to say that all 3 of us were suitably impressed and still blithering on about it days later! The quality of it really was unexpected, I’m sure it would be a 3* classic tick back in the UK with armies of mountaineers on it every weekend and now I’m snooping around to see what else there is out there…….
Obviously I got very excited at the prospect of exploring this and and shot through it crab crawling like a demented caver on a mission of discovery.