After the obligatory enforced layoff over Christmas it took a couple of days to find our feet but we soon acclimatised to the style of Chulilla, which generally offers long, vertical to gently overhanging wall climbing with most pitches being up to 30m or more in length. It seemed that half of Sheffield was visiting the area and it was cool to spend time with friends from familiar home crags. We lucked out with our accommodation and managed to get rooms in the same apartment as Matt Segal, of Progression fame. Most evenings were spent arguing the toss over grit highballing ethics with Matt and his mates. They cooked us up a proper banquet on New Years eve (see pic) as well, result!
News Years Eve banquet with the Yanks
The ancient village of Chulilla with arabic castle
So, what about the routes? I was psyched to spend some time on-sighting for a change and tried to be disciplined to move onto another route without redpointing it if I fell off. With whole sectors sporting endless 30m lines of 7c, 7c+ and 8a, who needs a first redpoint when there are onsight dragons to be slain! I was pleased to get two 8a onsights and some 7c+'s as well. My attempt to onsight an 8a+ called La Buena ended at bolt 5 of 18 unfortunately, you can't win 'em all ;0). We only took one rest day in 9 days which made a refreshing change to the many double rest days taken before redpoints on home ground. I am looking forward to spending more time on this style of climbing in the future, the other side of the coin to sieging. Here is my ticklist of 7b+ and above:
La Buena (El Balcon) - Redpoint
El capataz incapaz (El Balcon) - Onsight
El agente naranja (El Balcon) - Onsight
La boca de la voz (Pared de Enfrente) - 1st redpoint
Plantea Namek (El Algarrobo) - Onsight
Ramallar (Pared de Enfrente) - Onsight
La quebranta (Pared de Enfrente) - Onsight
El rey de la palanca (El Balconcito) - Onsight
El Bufa (El Balconcito) - Onsight
Tequila Sunrise (El Balconcito) - Onsight
Hipotermia (El Algarrobo) - 1st redpoint
Nivelungalos (El Algarrobo) - Onsight
Bricopaco (El Algarrobo) - Redpoint
Nikita (Competition) - Onsight
Andromeda (Competition) - 1st redpoint
Ca La Marta (El Algarrobo) - Onsight
La Buena 8a+
El capataz incapaz 8a
Tequila Sunrise 7c+
In fairness, New Years eve in Chulilla had been a relatively tame affair so when the opportunity presented itself to party a bit in Valencia with Jose and his friends, we duly obliged. After a few beers, it seemed like the evening was heading to a close at midnight but then the cocktail bowls and bottles of spirits were busted out and an impromptu visit to a local club took place. The Spanish tend to stop out a fair bit later than us English folk, all I would say is sometimes you need more of a siesta than a fiesta! ;0)
With the party scores now settled, it was time to crank again and we were all excited to check out Gaz's local crags. Gaz and Kate very kindly put us up at their home just outside the small town of Oliva, which is not far from Alicante or Valencia airports. Situated amongst orange groves in some beautiful countryside just south of Gandia and a stone's throw from the Penon d'Ifach and Sella, this would make an ideal base for anybody looking to explore the Costa Blanca. I know Gaz has a room to rent so drop him a line if you are looking to spend time in this superb climbing area and soak up some rays!
Another grim day on the Costa Blanca
Gaz and Kate are both animal lovers and have a stable with some horses as well as some very friendly cats and dogs. The dogs include those unlucky animals who are unfortunate enough to have suffered an injury or simply have no home to go to. One of the dogs was my namesake which guaranteed some moments of confusion each morning before coffee had been consumed.
Some Spanish podencos
We were all excited to check out Gaz's local crag 'Sector 45' where his now ex-project Supersonico 8c+ is to be found. David Petts joined us to film the ascent with the aid of his awesome 'quadcopter' or drone which was buzzing around the crag filming the action from all sorts of angles. The days of hiring a helicopter for filming for £10,000 an hour are now a thing of the past. We were all very impressed with the gobsmacking hanging arete line of Supersonico and indeed the futuristic 9a+ project to its right, which is currently being worked by Spanish hotshot Primo. We all took the opportunity to tick the classic 7c 'Luz de Sol' that Gaz bolted along with the quality 7c and 7c+ tufa lines to the left with their tricky traverses on slopey tufas under the massive roof.
Haydn on Luz da Sol 7c Jose on Adios Sol 8b
Is it a bird, is it a plane?
On the last day of my stay, we had spent the morning resting and arrived at the crag at half 3 to take advantage of the cooler evening temps. Conditions definitely felt a lot better than the previous days of working routes and after Gaz did a massive link from low down on the route to nearly the top, I knew a send was on the cards. It was very inspiring to see Gaz on his ascent which was obviously the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication.
Gaz post crux on Supersonico 8c+
Haydn on the7c+
After Supersonico went down, riding on a wave of psyche, I managed to redpoint the third ascent of the excellent 8b 'Adios Sol' of Gaz's which has some cool Oliana-like tufas on the bottom section leading to a rest before the final, very thin wall. In fact, this section is so thin that it very difficult to stop and clip on the final moves, perpetual motion upwards being your only hope! There is significant potential left at this crag not to mention the other crags littering the surrounding area, those after a new route fix need look no further.
Not a bad view from the crag
El Grinch 7c+ on the last day around Murcia