Altitude 65m a.s.l
calpe lightning © melville18
The most striking landmark in the whole of the Costa Blanca is the 332m high tower of the Peñón de Ifach that towers over Calp. The subject of the majority of the area's postcards must attract every climber's eye, and those who have attempted routes here will know that the climbing does not disappoint. The South Face of the Peñón is the more extensive of the two main climbing areas. This huge orange wall rises up above the sea, its top half riddled with caves, overhangs and groove systems. Many long routes find their way up the face and weave through this complex rock architecture to finish satisfyingly on the summit. There is a number of lower-grade challenges that are popular classics - requiring an early start and a decent rack of gear; Valencianos and Vía UBSA are the prime examples. The really big ticks are the superb, fully-bolted classics like Costa Blanca, El Navegante, Puto paseo ecológico and Nueva Dimensión. There are few sport routes to compare with these anywhere in the Costa Blanca. The other area described here is the North Face, which points inland and overlooks the park's visitor centre; a useful venue when the weather is hot.
The rock is of variable quality, with some loose material, especially on the lower pitches. It is worth wearing a helmet, especially on the easier and more popular routes. A top tip to avoid rockfall is make sure you are on the cliff early so that there are fewer people above you! Of course this also means that it is vital to be careful when climbing here since there will be teams below.
All the routes are long and can require 5 or 6 hours or more for a leisurely ascent, although there are reports of people taking as long as 11 hours on Gómez-Cano. Despite this, climbers who are well organised should manage to reach the summit in 3 to 4 hours.
The main climbing faces southwest and is full in the sun from mid-morning onwards. Its exposed position means it can get breezy, but the heat is likely to be more of a problem. If you are a slow climber, carry lots of water and sun cream. The North Face is a different proposition since it is in the shade except on summer evenings.
If you are based in Calp, you will know where the Peñón is! If you are driving from further out, take the Altea turn off the AP-7 (junction 64) and drive through the Mascarat Gorge on the N332. Soon after, turn off right into Calp. Drive down the main road towards the Peñón ahead. When the road veers around to the left, turn right (signed 'Peñón'). Keep going to where the road forks and take the right-hand branch. Drive down here to the harbour side and park as near the cliff as you can get; beware the tow-away zones (yellow kerbs). See route pages for approaches from here.
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