Friday, 18 February 2011

Nearly Home

My two months out here is coming to an end, on Tuesday I catch the bus down to Malaga to meet Yvette for a week in El Chorro then fly back to damp England. It’s been a good two months, although there has been rain I am still to miss a day’s climbing because if it. There definitely has been plenty of sun, most of the time we’ve headed swiftly to the shaded crags once warmed up.

Me at Orihuela

As with all trips it’s the people you meet who make it, it would have been a hell of a lot duller without Paul, Dan, Ryan, Scott and Elly. I’ve been taken to some incredible areas and climbed some incredible routes. Paul Thorburn who developed the Pirates of the Caribbean area below Toix T.V gave me a personal introduction to the area and I was able to enjoy some incredible pitches on immaculate rock.

Ryan at Orihuela

Although the climbing and company has been magnificent times here have been pretty frustrating, as someone quite unpleasantly put it to me yesterday, I’m just here to tag along. Every day climbing has generally been to belay someone on their project, or to make up numbers to go to a crag they want to go to. I’ve still not had a bad day’s climbing, but out of two months here I’ve only been to one crag at my behest, and that nearly got cancelled as well. In a way this doesn’t matter, I’ve achieved nearly all my goals, redpointing a few 7c, onsighting 7b+ and hopefully hitting my millage goal with Yvette next week. The only disappointing thing is I never managed to see so many other incredible crags, this region has so much to offer, but I feel I’m leaving having barely touched the surface.

Would I come back? Definitely, there is too much to do here not to come back.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean Sector, Toix sea cliffs, Calpe (Costa Blanca)

Download a printable pdf of this topo (thanks to Paul Thorburn)

Pirates cave abseil

Abseiling into the cave

The Pirates of the Caribbean sector is a fantastic, new climbing area on the Toix sea cliffs on the Costa Blanca, near Calpe. The first ascentists are Paul Storky Thorburn, Rich Mayfield and Marijne Lekkerkerker. The climbing here ranges from the fantastic expedition of Parle (F6a+, 3 pitches) to harder, one pitch projects above the water's edge. All of the routes require a brilliant, atmospheric freehanging 60m abseil. The rock here is of excellent quality and it is a great crag when conditions and weather can be poor elsewhere. Most of the routes stay dry in the rain and the crag is south facing, catching all the sun that's going.

Access: From the parking for Toix Ouest follow the well cairned path under the easy climbing sectors and around the headland. The path goes across a shallow valley then drops slowly to a slight gully below some smooth cliffs, where abseil bolts and old iron spikes will be found (or follow the directions given in Rockfax for the Candelabra del Sol sector). From the abseil point of this sector continue along the now fainter path above the cliff top for about 250m until two large holes are seen at flat area. The abseil point is on a grey slab on the landward side of the first and smaller hole (double bolt & chain). There is a further ring bolt just over the lip, retie your abseil rope to this to avoid rope damage, a 60m rope is just enough for this free abseil.

Routes 1-7 are accessed down a short knotted rope on the left side of the cave (looking in); the routes furthest left are in another cave which is accessed by the narrow ledge and another knotted rope. The rest of the routes are accessed from the main cave except routes 20- 22 which have individual accesses described.

Please respect the projects, that way even more will be equipped.

Conditions: This sector is useful in cold and poor weather to provide pleasant climbing conditions, but is a bit too serious to visit in really bad weather, though the hard routes will mostly be dry. It can very good on sunny days in mid winter but will mostly be too hot at other times, though good conditions can be had in late April as the sun is so high it hardly touches the steepest parts of the cliff. If it is very humid near the sea (common with Easterly winds) the routes can be intolerably greasy. Most of the harder routes have tufa and will seep badly for some time after very heavy rain. If they are black don’t try them; some of the tufas are pretty fragile.

If you are climbing the harder routes it is best to bring a small bag down with food and plenty of water and make a day of it. At the end of the day tie it to the Ab rope and plan which route you want to exit by, Bo’sun is a good one or Parle can be done in less than an hour when you know it. It is not recommended to attempt to exit from the top of routes 1-3; unequipped and loose. Stay in contact with the rope when lowering from routes 1-3 or you will end up in the sea (even the first lengths).

The extensions can be done on a 60m rope using the midway rebelay, but there is nothing left to spare – TAKE CARE. 80 m Ropes recommended.

The first lengths of the first three routes all have an in situ carabiner partway up, these are not the belays; clip them when cleaning the routes, it will stop your rope falling in the sea when you pull it. If you steal them your ropes will end up in the sea.

Pirates topo 102

1) Calypso

L1 : 6c 25m; overhanging corner on big holds. Start from thread belay, not in situ.
L1 + L2 : 7b/c 40m; hard moves above first belay lead to sustained but easier upper section.

2) El Fin del Mundo

L1 : 7a/b 25m; sustained and strenuous with an unobvious crux.
L1 + L2 : 7c 40m; a powerful move directly above the first belay followed by big moves up the sustained tufa drips.

3) Perla Negra

L1 : 7a+ 25m; strenuous but less sustained than its neighbour.
L1 + L2 : ??? 40m; PROJECT, superb powerful and technical climbing up widely spaced tufa drips. The finish is on poorer but reinforced rock.

4) Bo’sun

L1 : 6a 22m; pleasant but exposed climbing up the right arte of the cave. If you want to pull your rope after cleaning the quickdraws, do it from the back of the cave, then your rope won’t get wet.
L2 : 7b+ 22m; climb up right from the belay then follow a crack up left on good holds to a hard crux move into a hole. The climbing above is sustained on big holds. There is both a lower off belay and another fully bolted one over the top (take care with sharp rock). The bolts are a bit rusty but Ok at present.

5) Bo’sun’s Chair

7c 20m; climb up leftwards from the belay to hard and bouldery crux, from the shallow cave exit left to the big hanging tufa. Continue direct to a tricky finish.

6) Tia Alma

7c 22m; start up the first bolts of Bo’sun then pull left to sequency climbing up the bubbly rock leading to the shallow cave. Exit direct to gain a flake and sustained climbing above.

7) ??????? ??

22m; PROJECT not fully equipped.

8) ??????? ??

22m; PROJECT not fully equipped. Starts by 7 and moves diagonally right to finish by 9.

9) Tortuga Approach

7a 22m; the shallow crack/ pocket line up gently leaning wall. Moving left at the top. Move left at top, tricky clip. Don’t pull your ropes from this belay as they will probably end up in the sea. Good first pitch for routes 4 and 10.

10) Tortuga Island

7c+ 22m; climb up to and follow a flake crack leading diagonally left, tricky moves lead to the left end of a tufa fringe; move right then climb direct past more hard moves to a belay below the roof.

11) Captain Barbossa

L1 6b 22m; make difficult moves over a small overlap then leftwards to gain and climb a shallow right facing groove.Take the first belay for Captain Barbosa L2 or lowering off. There is a second belay up and left for routes 10-14.
L2 7a(+?) 45m; thin moves up rightwards on broccoli rock lead to some very poor rock. From here better climbing on diagonal cracks leads to a junction with Parle, continue direct until joining Parle to finish.

12) ????? ??

22m; PROJECT breaking left from the first tufa on AnnaMaria. Inox hanger bolts.

13) AnnaMaria la Pirata con Cojones

L1 7c 22m; climb the small black tufa then move right to a tufa blob. Increasingly difficult climbing leads up and slightly leftwards to a belay below the roof or a lower off belay just to its right. Inox hanger & ring bolts.
L2 6b+ 15m; Climb rightwards from the belay then directly up the wall to the top . Non Inox bolts but still Ok. It is possible to link this pitch with the one before, but it is not equipped for lower off (quick draws can be picked up from above afterwards if you want to).

14) Off the Edge of the Map

8a 40m; follow Anna Marie to the tufa blob then branch off rightwards up the very edge of the main cave. A crux at half height leads to the tufa stalactites, follow the lip until it is possible to pull up through a red bulge ( just past a small bush, ignore the last bolt on the lip of the cave, there was once a big jug there). Easier climbing leads to a lower off just below the top, clean the route in two sections. It is worth carrying prussiks as there is nowhere to lower to. Inox ring bolts.

15) Keelhauled

7b 50m; start 2m left of Parle, direct up to base of small groove, then diagonally left across wall to cross 11 and continue up steepening wall to belay in roof. Maillon on bolt for intermediate lower off (70m rope required). It is also possible to pull right from the belay and exit by Parle (15a 60m+).

15b) Keelhauled Extension ??

70m; PROJECT; the extension through the 20m roof on the inside of the cave to exit through the large hole.

16) Plank Walk

6b+/c 33 m; climb Keelhauled to the groove, then follow this to a double ring lower off in 11. With 60m ropes use the maillon at the junction. Take care pulling your ropes !!

17) Parle

Pirates topo 202

L1 : 5+ 25m; climb the left wall of the cave rightwards up bulging rock above the sea crevasse. Traverse right to belay on a rock bridge.
L2 : 6a 20m; leftwards on positive holds up the wall above the belay then follow the right facing groove until a traverse right leads to a belay. An excellent pitch with good climbing.
L3 : 6a+ 25 m; make awkward moves off the belay then make a rising traverse leftwards to an exciting and exposed finish through the smaller hole.

18) Miss Swan

L1 : V+ 45m; the large slabby rib inside the cave is followed over various steepenings but with very few bolts (Inox rings) to a belay below the overhanging wall.
L2 : 6b 20m; traverse left to the second belay of Parle, awkward and can often be greasy.

19) Aztec Gold

6b+ 25m; the bulging arte below Welcome.... gained by a traverse and abseil from inside the main cave. Follow the bolts up the overhanging brain coral jugs to the belay of Welcome to the Caribbean.

20) Welcome to the Caribbean

7c 35m; this route up the stunning right arte of the cave is gained by abseiling on a fixed rope (not in place) from a belay 15m East of the biggest hole (marker stone). Abseil through a gap in a large bush and swing left at the bottom (clipping bolts) to gain the belay. Follow Inox hanger bolts up the superb tufa dripped arte to the last cluster of tufa. From a big jug make the final difficult moves rightwards to gain an easy slab which leads to a bolt belay (not for lower off, if returning to belay lower from an earlier bolt before the slab).

20a) Welcome to the Caribbean Extension

??? 15m; OPEN PROJECT following the hanging arte of the cave. Still requires more cleaning. Inox ring bolts. From Lower off clean quick draws back to original line and finish up this.

21) Jack Sparrow

7a 45m; locate a double bolt belay on a slab 20m West of the smaller hole, not to be confused with the exit belay of 13. Climb down 3m and traverse right under the long roof following a series of belay chains. Make a rising traverse across a steep wall then continue horizontally above the main cave to reach a broken corner where the top can be gained. Bolt and nut belay. It is possible to split this pitch at a small belay ledge at the end of the roof. Variation 6b+ 35m; from the rising traverse climb straight up the wall to a double bolt belay.

22) Orange Men

8a(+?) 45m; locate a bolt on the headland 50m East of the holes of the main sector and abseil down the overhanging wall clipping the bolts to a small stance. Climb back out up the superb, sustained fingery wall of orange rock.

Download a printable pdf of this topo (thanks to Paul Thorburn)

All Information Courtesy of Ryan Glass