View from Sierra de Toix: Costa Blanca
After multiple days climbing great quality long routes on varied limestone features, fighting off the heat and rejoicing in any shade or breeze that came our way the decision was made to head to the area of Sierra de Toix. A rocky buttress set high on a small peninsula overlooking the touristy glam of Costa Blanca’s seaside apartments and pool bedecked villas, Toix offers a wealth of multipitch routes. Both on the rugged buttress as well as rising up the cliffs from the sea. These ‘adventure climbs’ offer a bit of a change from the awesome but straight forward single pitch sport of the area.
Freya and I deftly knocked off two enjoyable routes. First a two pitch 5+, then a great route with and easy 5+ first pitch followed by a steep but straight forward 6a pitch (the climbing being straight forward, not the route finding!). While we were revelling in the routes in a relaxed fashion, Sarah and Cat were getting into the true spirit of an adventure climb: a two pitch route turning into four pitches, abseils leading to nothing (no anchors to fix the next abseil to the ground) and finally the only option being to lower off a single ringbolt midway through a pitch
A lunchtime peruse of the guide book revealed a climb to epic an opportunity to pass up. Welcome to Pirates Cove and Parle. 60 meters high Pirates Cove is an open seacliff cavern accessed by an intimidating 55m abseil through a hole in the cavern roof. Free hanging for most of the way the abseil landed us on a rocky ramp than leads a short way down to the final dropoff to the Mediterranean below.
Committed the only way out now is to climb. Rising from the cavern floor to the exit hole, Parle is an epic three pitch 6a+ set in the most phenomenal location. On limestone quite unlike any other I’ve climbed on, you rise up on visually worn and spaced out bolts through fantastic positions and wild exposure to the cliff top above.
Although technically straight forward, Parle (as the name may suggest) is not a climb to be underestimated. The first pitch takes you over easy (5+) but steep ground on great holds made greasy from the salt air. From a belay stance on a rock bridge above the void the middle and crux pitch (6a+) climbs up on good but hidden small holds on steep, faceted rock to a short hand traverse and a hanging belay. The last pitch, although not as hard as the previous pitch (the pitch going at 6a) involves a rising traverse on very spaced bolts with exposed step overs, past bulges pushing you back out into space and a final heart pounding move over the heart of the abyss to reach the easy last few meters to the exit.
All in all a great and must do adventure in territory you wouldn’t usually find at 6a+!