New Years Eve on the Bernia Ridge

There have been some highlights on this trip for me and this day is another to go on that list. I’m not sure why, but this ridge has been on my wantlist for a while, I can’t even remember where I first read about it, although at some point it crossed my path and ever since I’ve wanted to have a go!

The day before we had a half days climbing, working through a few 6a climbs, all steep with some fantastic climbing. I wasn’t feeling climbing at all that day, so to climb quite well on some nice routes was a good way to spend the day. As soon as we were finished we set off for the parking at the ridge, as we wanted an early start as the guidebook suggests 5-10 hours and if we were at the slower end of that we would need every hour of daylight available to complete the climb.

a small reward for our early start

We woke at seven and it was still dark, so we treated ourselves to another thirty minutes on snooze. Once up it was all go, making sure we had all the correct kit, made lunch and had a chance to take in the sunrise that was creeping its way from the horizon, through the valley. We set off up the path in the direction of the sea, working our way towards a col, that we would be able to gain the ridge proper.

Before this, we passed a hole/cave that you could see through to the other side of the ridge, we both crawled through even though this was the wrong way and took in the scenery on the other side. It is an extremely unique feature that I have not seen on a route before! Once through we had a walk to see if we could gain the ridge from that side, although this was futile and we soon had to retrace our steps and back through the cave to gain the col as previously stated.

Fantastic little cave that goes through the entire face
The other side is a little bigger!

With this detour we had lost the lead and knew there would be a couple of groups in front of us, not the end of the world but I did not fancy a day of queuing at choke points if the groups ahead were slower. As luck would have it, we bumped into the first group at an abseil, that we decided to bypass and climb down. This only meant that as we moved to the next abseil that was unavoidable, we queued behind the next group and were soon followed by the group we had just passed. Luckily for us, after this abseil, we did not catch up to the next group until later on the ridge, when again they had chosen to abseil and we took the easy down climb. It might sound like a race, but whenever I’m on a long route I am always aware of the time and light left, not to mention I like to push myself physically!

One of those do not fall moments

The ridge itself was amazing and from either side the view was amazing, the route is mixed with sections of climbing, scrambling and walking. Navigation was easier than ever due to red dots being painted all over the route, so as long as you followed your nose and the dots you could not get lost. After much up and down, I was approaching a slope that was flanked on either side by featured limestone walls, I felt like I was in a movie scene. At the end of this was the only climbing pitch, a short 4+, where the hardest move was the first, we did this in our approach shoes, and when finished regretted carrying them. Although, that said, I have not taken them on other similar routes and regretted not having them!

The route followed a few false summits on the way to the main Bernia summit, in one of the cols we stopped for lunch before setting of up a long pristine rock scramble, which was another highlight for me. This was followed by easier ground that eventually undulated its way towards the summit of Bernia, the views were great all around, with a fantastic view of the route we had just worked our way over. The shame of the summit was an ugly concrete slab and column, not sure why it’s there, hopefully one day it’s removed and replaced with something more in keeping or just left as nature intended.

We got a little lost on the descent, but nothing a little backtracking did not sort out. Soon we were at the fort remains at the foot of the ridge, a nice little bit of history to finish a fantastic day on the ridge. So far our time in Costa Blanca has been amazing, and I’m really hoping that this form continues. I was not expecting this part of the trip to engage me as much as it has, and the more we climb and speak to people at crags, the more our list of must do routes expands, if all goes well I can see us spending a descent period of time here!

Hope everyone has a fantastic 2018!

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