Altitude 112m a.s.l
Caroline on an exposed traverse in the Mascarat gorge © Bristoldave
Often gazed at in awe from the car as you whip through the tunnels on your way somewhere else, the towering walls of the Mascarat provide some fine, long routes in a weird and exciting setting. The noise of the traffic dominates the atmosphere a bit, although this is of little significance on the Southwest Face. Several of the long routes have become established classics on the Costa Blanca hit-list with Llobet/Bertomeu (Vía UBSA) being one of the more popular long and relatively easy routes around. Others are seldom climbed but are worthwhile nonetheless. The hard routes on the Hambre de Mujer wall and Cleoplaca wall are all superb, but don't see much attention.
The tall walls give shady climbing on many of the routes and a cold wind can whistle down the gorge in winter. This makes it a good place to head for in very hot weather, but conversely a dreadful place if it is at all chilly. The longer routes on the Southwest Face are much more exposed to the sunshine and should all be considered as major full-day undertakings. Make sure you are well equipped with an appropriate rack of gear and take plenty of water and sun screen.
The Mascarat is the bit with all the bridges, tunnels and huge towering walls of orange and grey limestone on the N332, just to the south of Calp. Some of the routes start from the road level, and some start from the base of the gorge. The problem is what do you do with your car? By far the best option for the routes which start at road level is to persuade someone to drop you off although there is parking in a lay-by just uphill from the turning to Pueblo Mascarat but it is a break-in hotspot. For the gorge routes, turn off the N332 about 250m south (downhill) from the lowest tunnel signed towards ‘Pueblo Mascarat'. Follow this road down past a bridge on a bend (the track up the gorge leads off from this bridge) and either bump up the kerb (get well off the road) or continue to a T-junction, turn left and drive around to park on the latest urbanisation development. Don't leave anything in your car. To get to the routes which start in the gorge, walk up the cobbly bed of the dry river. The routes at road level can be reached by slogging up the steep bank on the left (looking up the gorge) to arrive by the small tower.
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