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The Climbing Club • View topic - Spain Part 2: Penon d'Ifach

The Climbing Club

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:54 pm 
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Mountain Rhombus
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After completing our climb of Puig Campana and doing some easy cragging the next day we were ready to tackle Penon d'Ifach. We were somewhat worried about the weather forecast later in the day and the following days didn't look good at all, so we decided to get a nice early start, leaving our hotel at sun up and arriving at the parking lot for the marina around 7:20. The book also mentions that helmets and caution should be used since this route follows a natural funnel, so we wanted to beat all the other chumps up the mountain. Hopefully whoever was below us had a helmet on when I dropped a nut (this made me very sad).

From the parking lot it is about a 10 minute walk to the end of the road/walkway along the sea and maybe another 10 minutes of trail/easy scrambling to the base of the route. We suited up on a nice flat area with large cacti everywhere. The first pitch of the route was not particularly enjoyable as it was a bit loose but was not at all difficult (3), bringing us to the base of a white slab. There are different routes from here that take various paths up the slab, all of which looked quite difficult, so I took the easy scramble up through some bushes and then across a ledge (3). This involved climbing under a cactus and behind a palm tree, new climbing experiences for me.

A classic pitch
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It was on this pitch that we passed our first seagull nest and got some angry responses. From this belay we were staring at the crux pitch (5+, 5.10a) that I had kind of been dreading all morning. Unfortunately this belay stance was quite awkward for the three of us. As I started out the pitch I noticed a bolt and a piton on the wall ahead and decided to bring the other two over to belay on a much more comfortable ledge with a better view of what I was up to on the crux. This didn't take too long and I was off again to climb what the book calls a "slippery slanting crack past various fixed/jammed gear (crux-polished)." I can confirm that it was indeed polished, slippery, and had some manky old gear in it. In my own words, it felt like trying to undercling/fist jam a wet fish while trying to friction your feet on a sheet of glass. Luckily there was a bolt for the crux so I wasn't too worried about it. I hung once and shamelessly stepped on the bolt. To be fair, the easiest way to climb it would have been to wedge myself into the crack but this was made very difficult by my pack.

The crux pitch
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Once above this it eased off and I found a bolt belay on a nice ledge. I brought the other two up and we waxed nostalgic about our graceless moves. From here it is two long pitches (4, 5.7) up the great slab to the ridge crest. It looks intimidating and a bit bushy from below but once on it the holds appear when you need them. The slab gradually steepens but the holds get better near the top.

Looking down the slab
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View from the ridge
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Rodrigo and Pau on the ridge
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Once on the ridge crest you can finally see off the other side to Calpe, the town below. Its a spectacular view and we relaxed for a bit while we let a British woman and her guide pass us. He had climbed the route many times and knew that there was a better belay station a little farther up the ridge...drat. As it turned out there was another seagull nest, with eggs, on a ledge near the start of the next pitch. The guide hastily passed without too much trouble, but unfortunately the British woman had a harder time of things and had a seagull shit all over her. She said she almost threw up. Luckily this meant it probably had less ammunition for me. I led quickly through here and avoided confrontation before getting on my favorite part of the route. This pitch (4+, 5.8) climbs up a crack to a bulge with a fine undercling. From the undercling you have to do an airy step out onto the face and a high reach to some good pockets. Its easy after this up to a nice belay. After this the book describes two easy pitches straight up to the summit. I instead decided to just go for it despite the huge rope drag. This was probably 55 meters.

Cheers
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It was a short walk/scramble to the true summit along the trail where we took some pictures and said hello to some stray cats. At this point it was warm and sunny so we celebrated with our terrible wine juice boxes we carried up. Being a bit dehydrated and tired we got a bit trompetilla (tipsy). This is the beauty of having a trail down the other side of the mountain. I think Rodrigo said the hardest part of the climb was stumbling down the trail. The trail eventually goes through a little tunnel carved through the mountain to get back to the north side where there is a really easy trail to streets that took us back to our car.

The tunnel
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After the climb we got some food just down the road and headed back to Benidorm.

Penon d'Ifach from up on the hill the next day
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To just summarize the rest of the trip: We went cragging quickly the next day as Rodrigo mentioned in his post and then drove up to Barcelona where we stayed with a friend and did some touristy things for a few days. On our way back to Madrid we stopped at Montserrat, a somewhat famous monastery and climbing location but we didn't really have time. The cobblestone conglomerate looked very strange and we wondered if it would even be enjoyable. Oh well.

Montserrat
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Some climbers
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Anyways, back in Madrid we hit up a Real Madrid futbol game where Rodrigo and I had to be careful not to get beat up as we rooted for Valencia in one of the most amazing 0-0 games of all time. We did a little bit of park bouldering in Madrid, went to Segovia to see some cool old townie stuff, and went to Patones for one more day as Rodrigo described. Overall a great trip that was about all I had hoped for. Great climbs with great partners with some fun tourism as well.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:26 am 
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UW Climber

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Pretty! Looks like nice views while climbing and a great trip! Happy the seagull didn't get you.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:20 pm 
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Mountain Rhombus
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:48 pm 
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Rodrigo
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Solid description of the crux. I was waiting to see what you would write. You described it perfectly. If not so polished it would be a relatively easy pitch. Without any hands or feet that are of any use it's terribly difficult. I never imagined exerting so much force in a body size crack on a slab that isn't even that steep.

The undercling move higher up more than made up for it. I remember being on it and thinking it was just like an airy version of the undercling/roof on Steppenroof in Mazama.

Thanks again for the solid lead.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:44 pm 
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The Pub Czar
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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 3:43 pm 
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Cap'n Wingspan
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So by my count Craig, you're missing two nuts in Spain.


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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 7:43 pm 
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