Eager to progress our personal climbing skills, as the UK dipped into a dark winter we headed out to Costa Blanca for a week of climbing in the sun.
Leaving a drizzly early morning in Bristol behind, we took a short flight to Alicante and in a cheap rental car were soon heading down the A-79 to Benidorm. Oioi! Don’t go over thinking. We were situated just 10 minutes north in what seemed to be some sort of gated community.
The Seguridad (security) was a smiley gentleman who responded to our waves as we drove out each day.
As we had nothing in the house we ventured off to local Supermercardo (supermarket) but ended up in the most confusing Mall-like maze of a grocery shop. First greeting aisles laced with sweets, beers and toiletries which then swiftly turned into electronics and a pharmacy section. However the pharmacy section most definitely didn’t have the odours of coconut shampoo but more a fishy smell wafting over from the other counter nearby. However, after this one session in the massive store looking at the vast quantity and quality of vegetables offerings, we felt we knew where most items were and headed back to the Casa to show off how much our nearly two trolleys of food cost us (less than the UK equivalent as it turns out!).
We whipped up a pasta bake to fuel the following day of seeing what the local crags have to offer, as well as sampling some amazing local wine.
Our first day took us to Echo Valley where I (Chris) had been before about 4 years ago and fondly remembered. Some locals also came along with a very young baby, who apparently didn't mind the heat despite us Brits suffering a little!
On the second day we headed over to El Castell de Guadalest, a long term favourite venue for climbers in the area. Here we picked a pretty quiet area of the crag and jumped on some routes. Considering it was November, the weather was absolutely stunning and really a perfect temperature to climb in. Afterwards we went for a well earned pint in the centre of Guadalest, once we'd tackled the steepest road of the trip.
On the following day we went up a local Via Ferrata, Vía Ferrata del Ponoig. This was absolutely stunning and had some serious exposure along the way, slightly intimidating for some first timers but really good fun. The total ascent and descent time was about 4 hours and whilst most of us headed back for a partial rest day, others were back out climbing!
On our final day we went out to another very popular area, Sella, and jumped on a few final routes for the trip. This area was popular with both locals and Spaniards, we made a slight rookie mistake of parking a long way down the road giving ourselves a lengthy walk in. But we made the most of the day and got up a few more routes before high-tailing it to the airport (possibly earning us a speeding ticket along the way... oops!).
Overall we had a fantastic week and had a good range of days out on the crag, dips in the sea, exploring local restaurants, shops and bars. Landing back at a cold and dark Bristol, there was no mistaking the trip had come to a close.