Festivities (and climbing of course) in Costa Blanca!

For near seven months we have been able to live in our van rent free, we have wild camped for this entire time! However we felt like we would treat ourselves to some normality over the Christmas period, and booked two nights at the orange house. We drove for just short of seven hours from Barcelona to Alicante, partly due to the fact that the van is having more problems and won’t haul its ass up hills, often dropping to 35mph on hills on a motorway. This is another problem that needs fixing asap and I have an idea it will not be a cheap fix!

On arrival it was nice to be in a room and feel normal, showers, heaters, large kitchen, sofa and wifi. It seems weird that all these normal things felt luxurious, but they did! The place was thriving and it was weird to be in the vicinity of so many people after quite a long period of relative solitude. We had a relaxed evening, setting out our plans for climbing the next day!

It was such a cool concept to think that I would be climbing high above the Mediterranean on Christmas Day. We chose Toix as we had climbed there before and knew the approaches etc. We climbed on Del Pras, one of the first routes bolted at the crag! The first pitch was a little harder than I expected, I was not sure if was down to a lack of climbing, or just the fact that it was tougher? Either way, route finding was hard, which is weird given that this is a sport route, and therefore it should be a simple case of following a line of bolts from bottom to top. Unfortunately, this face looks as though it’s been fired upon by a shotgun full of bolts and its a bit of a cluster fuck until after the second pitch.

It was great to be climbing again, and on Christmas Day no less, if I’m not with family this is definitely the other option I would choose! We finished up the climb on the final pitch of Cliber, another multipitch that was on the face. Once at the top, both jess and me reminisced back to 2013, when we both climbed this cliff for the first time and in doing so had completed the first multipitch for either of us, and here we were, years later stood atop of Toix again and still loving climbing and each other!

We descended the climb, back to our van and made our way to the Orange House. We were lucky that we had an early start and therefore had the whole kitchen to ourselves. Jess cooked up a cracking Christmas dinner, for once at Christmas we had actually deserved this indulgence! We finished the day with snacks, scrabble and a couple of films, all in all it had been a fantastic alternative to my traditional Christmas Day!

On Boxing Day we left the Orange house a little later as we took the opportunity to fix our waste pipe on the van. By the time we arrived at Toix again, we were perched above the sea cliff ready to abseil in, when the rain started to sporadically wash over. After forty minutes of on and off rain we decided to not abseil in and return to the van, as once you are down, you have burnt your bridges and have to climb out. We would return a few days later and enjoy a fantastic abseil floating above the waves, followed by an easy traverse and some descent climbing back to the top. Climbing on sea cliffs felt different to what we had climbed before, I think it might have been the first time we have done it on this trip??? Either way it was a great climb, and a great way to spend an afternoon.

We had a day off when the wind was horrendous, rocking our van nearly to tipping point! This gave me a chance to again fix the waste pipe again, which this time seems to have worked! We managed a fantastic 6a day at Acalali, where we strung together a host of 6a climbs back to back, and found them all worthwhile, for once I felt I was in the right mindset to climb well, and only latter in the day did I suffer a little, again this could be due to lack of practice! It was a great crag atmosphere and for once we were chatting with loads of climbers who were there. It seems an age since we were at a crag full of British climbers where you can actually have a chat!

So far this chapter of the trip has had a positive beginning and I hope that it will continue into the new year as this area has so much potential for amazing days out, from single to multi pitch, trad or sport and long mountain routes with scrambling. I’m seriously looking forward to a few routes that are at the top end of my grade and appear to be classics, as they have been recommended over an over!

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