The Assisted Dyno © SarahCadwallader
The Vall de Guardar (previously called Echo Valley with crags Echo 1, Echo 2, Castillo and Echo Playa) is the impressive rocky defile that cuts deep into the mountains behind the bulk of the Ponoch. Viewed from a distance, the walls here are easy to miss in comparison to the mass of other rock around. Viewed from close-up you realise that these are major faces with some impressive steep rock in a beautiful setting. The 6 separate buttresses offer both trad and sport routes. The trad climbing is mostly on the longer multi-pitch routes on Aran de Batistot (Echo 2), Paret del Castellet and El Castellet, and these routes require the carrying of a decent-sized rack of gear and double ropes. With the exception of Paret del Castellet, the other crags all have plenty of decent sport routes across the grades including some relatively easy routes on Echo 1.5 and Paret de la Bassa. Further up the valley are more huge cliffs that have also been developed with long routes including Les Penyes que Parlen, Col Lama and the Haunted Walls. These areas are not described in this guidebook - check www.compasswest.co.uk for more information.
Paret de la Bassa is the lowest cliff and is sheltered; it goes into the shade in the afternoon. Paret del Castellet and El Castellet both face south and get all the sun that is going. The lower walls are sheltered from the cold north winds. Aran de Batistot is in the sun until mid afternoon, after this it can become chilly, especially in the winter. In hot weather it makes a good venue for late afternoons and evenings. None of the crags can be considered reliable wet weather venues but, if the wind is blowing from the west then the central section of Aran de Batistot can stay dry.
From the coast, drive up towards Polop then take the ring road (signed 'Guadalest'). Turn left at the fifth roundabout (olive trees) signed 'Cami'. The cliffs are arranged on the right-hand side of the concrete track as you drive up the valley, Paret de la Bassa, Paret del Castellet, El Castellet, Echo 1.5 and Aran de Batistot. Parking is tricky for the Castellet crags - don't obstruct access up the road, it can be surprisingly busy.