/ Costa Blanca, route recommendations F5 - F6b

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The Ivanator - on 24 Dec 2012
I'm headed out for my first trip to the Costa Blanca and will be based at the Orange House at Finestrat. Any tips or advice on the area appreciated, but particularly keen on route recommendations in the F5 - F6b range and pointers on best crags - Sella looks awesome.
Is it worth taking Trad gear?
Is a 60m single adequate for most things out there?
Good restaurants/supermarkets?
Suggestions for stuff to do if the weather isn't great (...please no, I've forked out specifically to get away from this interminable rain for a few days).
If you have any pointers, fire away.
Many Thanks and a Merry Christmas to you all.

partz - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ivanator: I stayed in sella itself so cant help really on the supermarket thing (although there was a small 'co-op' style shop in the town that sold all the basics).
We did the puig campana in Finestrat, and a HS multi-pitch route that goes up it. That was a great day out obviously a long day but worth the trip! Take trad gear if you plan on doing this.
I quite enjoyed Forada and some of the 5+'s there, even though its a bit of a trek away. They felt easy but the moves were just natural and flowy. McFlay and Panchuflas were 2 I remember well. Only problem was it rained and leaving the crag was nothing less than an off-roading adventure trying not to total the hire cars...
Otherwise Sella has enough to occupy you for atleast 2 days. Le Tina de Turner was a good pocket puller and Divinas Chapuzas was quite a long good laybacky route too.
60m rope is fine but obviously make sure you check the routes before you start as some DO need a 70m. With regards to trad gear, have a look at the costa blanca book and decide for yourself. From memory, its probably only worth taking trad gear if you're going to do any of the big mountain multi-pitch routes. Or, see how much luggage allowance you've got left and if you can fit your rack in, do it :P
Hope this helps a bit. Have fun!
Simon Caldwell - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ivanator:
> Is it worth taking Trad gear?

Absolutely. The Espolon Central Direct on the Puig Campana will be the best route of your trip.

Sella is less awesome than it once was due to polish, but still worth a visit.
The Ivanator - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to partz: Thanks for the detailed reply, will check out some of the routes you mention - have burnt out a clutch on a little Mercedes A Class offroading on a previous Spanish trip, not an experience I'd be keen to repeat!
The Ivanator - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Toreador: Cheers, looks like less clothes and more gear in the bag then!
The Ivanator - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ivanator: Also interested in general opinions of how the grades compare to UK Sport, the majority of my Sport experience has been at Portland, although I have done a little abroad and elsewhere in the UK.
earlsdonwhu - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ivanator: Beware of benightment at this time of year on long routes on the Puig Campana!
SGD - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ivanator: If you are staying at the orange house then they will be able to help you out with all your questions as they are brilliant!

but to get you started.

I do remember there being a small grocery store in Finestrat that had a limited amount of food but if you have a car then Benidorm isn't far away and the is a massive Carrefour (not sure how you spell it) on the way into the 'Dorm'.

Yep a 60m rope is fine but if you want to do any of the multipitch stuff (there is some very good f5/6 routes at Sella) then you may want to take a 60m half as well as your sport rope.

Places to eat and drink, I do remember eating out a couple of times in Finestrat but I can't remember where, sorry....

As for places to climb/routes - Sella will be your best bet but the lower grade routes are understandably polished. Although saying that I recently had a week in spain and the best route I did was at Sella called 'Camilo del Ray' (6b in the guide) and it was excellent and wasn't polished. Sella is also a very beautiful spot to hang out. Echo Valley is also well worth a trip (it's also a very pretty spot) the routes on what is known as the Monsters of rock wall are quite hard for the grade (probably because they are short) we didn't do anything in any of the other sectors at Echo but they look excellent. Which brings me neatly on to gear. Have a good look at the guide before you pack as some of the multi pitch routes at Echo need gear.

There are lots of other places to try like Toix, the Penon etc but you could happily spend a week at just Sella and Echo.

Have a great time
partz - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to earlsdonwhu: Yes very true, its one you dont want to get stuck on!

So long as you start climbing at sunrise (to be safe) you should be fine.

Grade comparison...ermm to be honest probably about the same technically? I couldn't tell Im afraid. People I was with said bolt spacing was abit far but I disagree. I remember clipping positions for this grade range to be very user friendly.
Simon Caldwell - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ivanator:
> Also interested in general opinions of how the grades compare to UK Sport, the majority of my Sport experience has been at Portland

Would put grades in roughly this order, easy to hard (based on routes up to 6a). I haven't climbed at Portland but comments from others suggest it would be at the tough end of the list.

Costa Blanca
The Ivanator - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to All: Thanks everyone for the contributions so far, plenty of food for thought. Will probably concentrate on Sella and Echo Valley as I'm only there for a few days. But if there are unmissable routes elsewhere I will have a car, with short days not keen to spend too many hours driving though.
hms - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ivanator: It's a bit further away, but I'd warmly recommend Alcalali. There are many routes in the 5s and low 6s, they aren't polished (yet) and they are all very good. There is an excellent topo online somewhere - sorry I forget where.
Tom W - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to hms:

Really enjoyed Acalali, shame its so close to the road. There is a topo at the Orange House (or there was last week). You should look at Toix TV too, and Epsolon Central on the Puig is well worth it if you get the chance, but is trad so you'll need gear. Ooh la la in Finestrat do a good pizza.
Fraser on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Tom W:

Agreed re Alcalali, I was there a couple of weeks ago and was very impressed. Shame the bottom part of the crag is now fenced off, the routes there looked great. I have the topo somewhere, will try and dig out the link.
Fraser on 24 Dec 2012
The Ivanator - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Fraser, hms & Tom W: Thanks for the Alcalali tip and especially the topo, nice one.
Fraser on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ivanator:

If you go to Pena Roja (aka Lliber), "Lliberpool" is a good hard 6b. Be warned though, it felt to me to be more like 6c for the onsight! Further along the crag is another good 6b called "Llibertine", which is really steady jug hauling through great terrain and at a decent length too. If your stamina is ok, it's probably 6a+ max.

Some photos of both crags on my gallery.
icnoble on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ivanator: Montessa is a great crag, well worth the drive.
cjb1992 - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ivanator:

I just got back from a trip there last week, climbing a tad under the grades you're looking at. I don't have much experience of a lot of the areas, but I can give you my thoughts on the places we went.

Sella is definitely worth a day or two (depending how long you're there for). Good selection of grades and no where near as polished as I was expecting.

If you don't mind a bit of an approach walk, Olta has fantastic views and a string of good routes at 5/5+(I'd recommend Christmas Dreams, 5+), and 2 very good looking 6b+s which we didn't have time to try. Apart from the 6b+s, the routes were quite samey, so if you don't fancy 6b+ and you and your partner are quick, you might get bored of them before the day is up. The guidebook has a few routes on the "Pinnacle", though these really weren't the effort of getting to them.

Toix again is worth 1 or 2 days. Plenty of routes to choose from. Lots of short 2-3 pitch multi-pitches too if that's your kind of thing. I would recommend Enérgico (6a+) in Toix Far Oeste, which shares a anchor with a 6b+ (6c/+ imo) next to it which was great fun on a toprope.

Our last crag was Echo Playa. Again, lots of routes at your level, and quite varied, though they seemed to be graded quite harshly compared to the rest, especially towards the left side of the crag, so take care.

As I said, I don't know much about what else there is, and there may be some much nicer places, though I don't think you could go wrong at any of the above. (Olta may get a bit boring if you plan on climbing a lot of routes in a day).

As for trad gear, initially we regretted not bringing any, though by the end we were more than pleased with what did without it. Same with a 60m rope, it really wasn't limiting us, though if you wanted to do any of the long (trad) multi-pitches you'll want doubles.

Overall I thought the grades were a bit harsh compared to where I've climbed before. Went to Sardinia at Easter and was climbing 6b/+ quite comfortably, yet I didn't fancy climbing more than 6a+ in Spain. This may just have been my lack of desire to scare myself on what was meant to be a laid back trip, though my partner agrees they were harsh.

Finally, as someone previously mentioned, there's a Carrefour Planet(!) just outside Benidorm, which we stopped by every day for a baguette on the way to the crags.

Best of luck with the weather!
The Ivanator - on 25 Dec 2012
In reply to cjb1992: Thanks Chris for a detailed and really helpful reply, the Christmas spirit seems to have engendered a most generous response from you all - much appreciated!
Rockmonkey1977 on 26 Dec 2012
In reply to The Ivanator: It seems this has all been well covered now but one thing i will add is if you try some of the 5/5+'s at Sella dont get psyched out as they are (IMO) very hard! I think its mailny due to polish but the 6a's-6b's seem about right to me (very similar to portland). I'd not been outdoors for a while when i tipped up there and thought i'd gone massively backwards when climbing the easier routes, I was starting to get quite worried, but as soon as i stepped it up a notch it felt much better. Bolt tax at Sella is a testing but rewarding line at the grade (IMO)...

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