El Dorado, the climb that got away!

When we left Costa Blanca at the end of January, it was after a months solid climbing. We had climbed so much that I even got to the point that I’d had enough of climbing and needed some time off. The casualty of this was a route called El Dorado, one of the top fifty routes in the Costa Blanca Guidebook, and a route that, although at the top end of our grade, was definitely on the hit list! We managed to do near everything that we had planned, however with the weather and general can’t be bothered, the route never got done!

After what’s been nearly two weeks solid rain, it was a nice change to wake up to our first morning in Costa Blanca, with rain tapping on the van! I remember waking and rolling my eyes before going back to sleep, it would seem we had brought the rain with us. The rain continued here and there during the day, however by the afternoon it had passed, and we decided to hit a local crag, Alcalalí. We did not push any grades, although the temptation was there, instead we settled for a couple of really nice five routes and one six, which was also relatively easy. This was a good way to blow out the cobwebs after a long period of no climbing! That night we were treated to a gem of a sunset, unfortunately, I was scurrying trying to find a view through the trees and struggled, the sky was blood red, and I missed the shot, although I did get a pink sky shit through the trees eventually.

That night I proposed doing El Dorado the next day. We are both a little out of practice with sports climbing, so this might seem a bit of a weird idea, but for me I didn’t want to work hard over a few days of cragging and then feel tired both physically and mentally when it came to the route we diverted here to do. So in the morning we set off for Toix (where the climb is located).

The climb starts just of the beach, on the walk I I felt a little intimidated by the wall in front, it looked hard! We geared up and jess took the first lead. The first bolt is a bit of a distance, but once in the rest of this traverse pitch is relatively easy. I was also surprised by how sharp the rock was, on the other sea cliff routes the rock was more rounded, however here the rock did have these rounded features, but also nice sharp holds!

The next pitch was mine. It looked a menace, I climbed it in the knowledge that I would rest when I felt safe and keep myself and my forearms fresh. I knew after a couple of weeks off I did not have the endurance for this. I was surprised by how good some of the holds were, and when in the crack a 360 climbing style was required to make my way up by the easiest way. At times I worked outside of the crack, although most of the route, consisted of steep climbing, on large holds. There were bolts on the route, although I supplemented these with slings and also used tat left by other climbers, otherwise some of the bolts would be run out, and as I’m pushing the grade, not good for me. That said, the atmosphere was fantastic, and when I reached the belay I felt the back of the route was cracked.

The hanging belay sucked, there was three bolts, although all were rusted, only the petzl hanger part was rust free. Jess reached me and already I had two dead legs, wiggling to return life to one, then the other. Jess lead the next pitch, steep to begin with, although after a stuttering start made good progress. Eventually I felt the rope pull freely and I knew she was at the top. I followed and found this pitch to be more to my likening. A steep start on good holds, followed by a slabby section, that had good holds, you just had to get you feet and body high enough to take advantage of them. As usual when I got to the top I was not elated, and my mind ran straight to the descent.

A short walk up the ramp and I found the abseil anchor. I went down first and unfortunately, when I got to the ledge, I could not bring up the green rope, it was caught in a flake. In the end I descended past the anchor and had to free the rope, before prussicing back up the rope. It was hard work, as it always is and I hoped that the next ab would be smoother! As luck would have it the next one was fine and with jess and me back on terra firma, the ropes came down fine. Finally I was happy! A good and safe days climbing.

We finished the day with a dip in the sea…for my feet, as it was freezing. Even this was nice, after they had been wedged in climbing shoes for a few hours! So there we have it, two days in to Costa Blanca round two, and we have done what we came here to do! What’s next?? I don’t know? I’m sure we are staying here for at least a week, so there is plenty more time to fit in more adventures!

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