Costa Blanca ’16/’17

Just back in the UK from a ace extended week in the Costa Blanca. There was a massive gang of people there over the New Year period and so we were lucky enough to snag a doss with our friends Steve & Sandra! 😀

Here are a few pictures from the trip…

El Diamante
El Diamante follows the pillar in the centre just right of the pale yellow area in six pitches. Although I managed to spurn the 6a+ pitch thinking it looked too easy! What a fool. Ah well, I climbed a nice 6c pitch instead! 😉
El Diamante
Steve figuring out the line of the penultimate pitch of El Diamante
El Diamante
Steve happy back on the ground after El Diamante, and with no stuck ropes after all the abseils!
Magical Mystery Tour
Clair on the abseil approach to Magical Mystery Tour – the ladders are a relic of fishing (or perhaps smuggling given the theme of the route names hereabouts). They are VERY unsafe, dropping some 40 metres attached to the rock with nothing more than electrical flex in places!
Magical Mystery Tour
Clair on one of the easy traverse pitches of Magical Mystery Tour
Magical Mystery Tour
Looking back to the belay on the penultimate pitch of Magical Mystery Tour – Clair led the last crux pitch – good job!
dinner
A select gang enjoying a more traditional Spanish dinner at a tiny local restaurant in Calpe
Vuelo del Aguila
Steve starting the second 6a+ pitch of Vuelo del Aguila in the Mascart Gorge, a tricky chimney carried on above Steve
Vuelo del Aguila
The top of Vuelo del Aguila with the Penon and Calpe beyond
walk
Laetitia walking on New Years day – on the way to take a peek at the Barranc de l’Infern
Barranc de l'Infern
The waterway scenery below of the technical section of the Barranc de l’Infern
Barranc de l'Infern
The supposed “duck” at the end of the technical sections of the Barranc de l’Infern – how deep does the water have to be to make this in to a duck?!
Arenal
Crowded scenes at the climbers gathering bar, the Arenal
Parle
The stunning abseil in to the Parle sea cave
Parle
Steve climbing out of the awesome (a word that is used too often, but in this case correct) Parle sea cave
Toix West
Pete, Keith, Fiona, and Steve at Toix West – enjoying a chat, the sun, and then some more routes!
L'Atzúvia
The gang at the new crag De L’Atzúvia (not in the Rockfax guidebook). Many of the routes were not properly shown on our poor topo, and most were graded “approximately” – anyway I did a great 6c route to finish my trip on! 🙂

Venues

1.markerworld-linkEl Diamante
2.markerworld-linkAlcalalí
3.markerworld-linkMarín
4.markerworld-linkParle
5.markerworld-linkMagical Mystery Tour
6.markerworld-linkVuelo del Aguila
7.markerworld-linkDe L'Atzúvia
8.markerworld-linkBarranc de l'Infern

A week in Mallorca (Part 4) – Torrent de Pareis

Torrent de Pareis is a magnificent gorge running from Sa Calobra on the coast, to Enscorca near Lluc. A well-publicised trek involves walking the route taken by the river from the top, down to the sea, making the return journey by bus. Unfortunately, the night before our day in this area, we had torrential rain and so we were reluctant to commit to the walk without knowing the conditions downstream. We therefore decided to head to the bottom of the gorge and make our way upwards with view to returning the same way.

The road down to Sa Calobra is somewhat exciting. It drops from 600 m to sea level in a straighline distance of about 2.5 km. At times, the cliffs are very overhanging, at others, the road passes through tight gorges and at one point en route, the road actually makes a 360 degree turn, looping the loop horizontally and passing under itself before continuing down the mountain! To welcome your arrival at the coastal village, the charge for parking is a hefty 0.04 euro/min! We recommend arriving very early to take one of the five free tourist parking spaces (we managed this).

The road down to Sa Calobra was somewhat exciting!
Thankfully we didn't meet a bus coming the other way!

The rewards of making the journey were great. After a short stroll along the sea front, we followed a path through a tunnel in the cliff, emerging at a beautiful beach. We were lucky enough to be amongst some of the first tourists that day and so we were able to appreciate the place without the hustle and bustle of the many coach tours that would inevitably arrive later.

The beach at Sa Calobre was magnificent.

After assessing the flow (or lack of) down Torrent de Pareis, we changed into sandals and started our journey into the gorge. After a short distance of boulder hopping in the mouth of the gorge, the walls became almost vertical and the base of the gorge narrowed to less than 5 m. This part of the gorge was truly spectacular and we spent quite a while admiring the cave-like formations and the sheer size of the slot, before continuing upstream.

A narrow bit. It is possible to see two people sitting down in the foreground of this photograph
Inside Torrent de Pareis
Many many boulders. Just like Agen Allwydd.

The way on was punctuated by a series of obstacles, first a climb over a very shiny wedged boulder, then a squeeze through boulders and then a commiting traverse around another boulder that blocked most of the slot. As we proceeded onwards it became clearer that each consecutive obstacle filtered out another subset of people from carrying on upwards :-). Eventually we got to a point where the canyon started to open up and where the guide book suggested that all the tricky bits were already overcome. At this point, we took a last look up the canyon and turned around to make the return journey. On our way back we admired the gorge some more and wondered whether Pete and Tish would fancy climbing some of the pitches (we noted bolts on some faces).

Richard in the gorge, near our turn around point.
We wondered if this cliff in Torrent de Pareis could be climbed by hand-jamming?
The perfect beach

After returning to Sa Calobra, we drove around to the next village (Cala Tuent) for a swim in the big(ish) waves before making our way back along the winding road.

Crete 2010

A bit late in the day, sorry, but my excuse is IT issues. Last month I went to Crete for some sunshine – and found it (unlike in Portugal). I stayed in Chania old town, on the western third of the island. Crete has been Greek only since 1913 and had a very colourful history before that:

• 3000 – 2800 BC Archaeological artifacts prove the existence of ancient Kydonia.
• 2800 – 1150 BC Minoan civilisation. Ancient Kydonia is one of the most powerful cities in Crete.
A cat examines Minoan excavations in Chania

1st millennium AD Kydonia prevails until the 7th century AD

• 823 – 961 AD Occupation by the Arabs
• 961 – 1252 AD Byzantine period
• 1252 – 1645 AD Occupation by the Venetians
Venetian inscriptions
Chania harbour: the subject of a million postcards and photographs
• 1645 – 1897 AD Occupation by the Turks (I could, but won’t, add photos of Islamic architecture here)
• 1898 AD Foundation of the Cretan State. Chania is the capital of Crete
• 1913 AD Unification of Crete with Greece

This eventful history continued with WW2 and the Battle of Crete, 1941 – scene of awful atrocities which are still clearly remembered as shown by this contemporary child’s artwork:

A Cretan meets a German paratrooper

However, the real aim of this trip was to do some walking in the White Mountains – a truly wild and undeveloped area. It is easy to see how resistance fighters could be so successful over the centuries. There is a climbing hut in this area though I did not see it.

The big walking tick in Crete is the descent of the Samaria Gorge and, although it can be expensive to get to, it is worthwhile – my one tip would be to make sure you leave very early (just after dawn) and are in the first half dozen people because hundreds and hundreds of tourists do this walk every day and it must be atrocious in crowds.

Samaria Gorge, early morning
There had been no rain since April
The gorge narrows to a few feet lower down
Not far to go - it's 16 km from the top to the beach
Abandoned village in the gorge

And some more general scenery from the mountains:

Mountain village
Another mountain view

And for me the highlight had to be the museum’s fragments of Linear A and Linear B script, the first time I had ever seen this other than in pictures. 🙂 🙂

Minoan writing - still not translated!

Canyoning in Mallorca

My company had a bumper year and so we got packed off on a “mystery” trip. Luckily I got the inside info on where this was to be and persuaded my work colleague & caver Jim to join me on a canyoning jolly. We had a great day out in Torrent del Guix near Lluc in the northern mountains. The canyon was pretty much dry but with 20+ drops still provided plenty of fun. A 2 hour slog back up the hill to the road and then we managed to hitch a ride back to the car from a couple of local lads. A top day out!