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The Climbing Club • View topic - Spain Part 1: Echo 2 and Puig Campana

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:35 pm 
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Mountain Rhombus
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This is going to be a two part post plus whatever Rodrigo posts for our cragging around Spain.

I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks in Spain from March 28 to April 11 with Rodrigo (who stayed an extra week) and Pau (Rodrigo's lady friend who lives in Madrid). We had planned two bigger multipitch climbs along with We spent Wednesday in town sleeping and seeing a little bit of Madrid and went to Patones () on Thursday to show Pau how we would be working the rope and trad gear, as she had never climbed multipitch, trad, or with 3 people. Because it is Spain and everyone is out of work, there was of course a strike, ensuring that Pau, who happens to be employed, didn't have to work either. This meant we were able to leave town early Friday morning instead of at night like we had planned. We drove east to the Mediterranean near Valencia and headed south to Benidorm. Benidorm can only be described as classy in my opinion. We decided it is wear the rednecks of Spain go for vacation. The closest thing in the US we could think of to compare it to is possibly myrtle beach without golf courses or maybe just Panama Beach without spring break, and by rednecks of Europe I am mostly just talking about British people. The town was full of drunk British people by about 2 pm. This was not a necessarily a bad thing as it resulted in us having a pretty nice hotel on the 21st floor overlooking the sea for only 30 euros per night within 30 min of all the climbing we wanted to do.

View from our hotel in Benidorm
Image

Since Pau had never climbed anything multipitch we wanted to at least get some practice before we attacked Puig Campana, which is 13 pitches, and had us a little worried about speed. For this we decided to give Echo 2 a go via the Espolon de Echo route which is listed as Grade 3 with 2-3 long pitches.

This is Echo 2. We climbed the left skyline.
Image

The Echo Valley is full of beautiful rocks to climb, many with long and burly routes if desired. The French ratings had us confused for much of our planning and 3 is supposed to possible 5.easy according to the guide book. As it turns out I think it was just 3rd class and I felt kind of silly at times wearing a rope. I ended up leading it in 2 long pitches and it turned out to be good practice anyhow. It certainly didn't take us long. I then scrambled up a higher little peak next to it and we all headed down to the car.

Good work team
Image



Now that we were warmed up we were ready to tackle our biggest objective. Puig Campana is 1406 meters high and about 10 km from the sea. We decided to climb the Epsolon Central route, a 13 pitch classic (most popular) that goes at 4+ (5.8 ).

We saw this at a gas station on the way to the climb. Nothing like some smokes to get you climbing harder.
Image

View from the approach and our route.
Image

There are several ways to start the route, the preferred is probably the Central Directa route (4+) which goes directly up a face to meet the ridge on a big ledge. As we approached we could already see two parties on this version of the route and another party approaching so we decided to do the complete ridge route which is easier to try to save us some time (since we were worried about speed) and to possibly pass some of the others. This part of the route is listed as grade 3 so we thought it would be really easy and we could simulclimb the 3 pitches. As it turns out I found one spot to be a bit tricky for my liking on simulclimb so I set up a belay and made the 3 pitches into 2. We ended up on the big ledge behind a pair of Welsh climbers and ahead of the other pair we could see approaching previously. The Welsh guys entertained me throughout the climb as the talked funny (off Bee-lay!) and complained about the height of their partners.

After the ledge there are two traversy pitches listed that I was able to combine into one with a bit of rope stretch. On this I managed to set a nut really well that Rodrigo spent at least 5 minutes trying to get out without success (I think its his fault). After this pitch began the good climbing. This is the 6th pitch in the route description and it is short. The Welsh guy tricked me into going too high above a ledge with a piton and a nice belay. I set up a little higher on another ledge.

Rodrigo and Pau following up the 6th pitch and a good idea of what the rock was like.
Image

The next pitch was solid climbing for 50 meters and another after that for 35 meters basically right up the ridge brought us to a nice tree belay. There are some bolts to rap down here if necessary and it gets harder to bail above this, but we were doing quite well so we continued. We were actually keeping pace nicely with the Welsh pair that was swapping leads despite having 3 people and only one leader. Above the tree it describes a short 10 meter pitch which is just scrambling and then a climb rated as 4. I think I accidentally took the more direct route here which doesn't do the scramble and is rated as 5 (5.9) as it seemed like it was definitely the hardest part of the climb. After this there are three more pitches of 4+ climbing that were fun following the ridge and all kind of blend together in my head until reaching easier ground.

One of the Welsh guys leading up the 10th or 11th pitch
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View of Benidorm
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We were quite happy upon reaching the top of our route in good time, but we didn't have the energy or time to climb the Edward's Finish which involves a fair amount of scrambling, a rappel, and 3 more pitches of climbing. This just gets you to the sub summit of the peak directly above our route (the true summit is a long ways to the NE and is an easy scramble). We started heading down via a little path that traverses to the East. Soon enough it starts heading downward and has 4 or 5 sections of via Ferrata.

Some others on the descent
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None of it was all that difficult but I was glad to have that extra protection as there was still some serious exposure. A bit more scrambling down took us to a big gully of loose rocks that reminded me of the Cascadian Couloir on Stuart. This brought us back to trails which led back to our car.

It got pretty on the way out
Image

A good route and day out. We went back to our hotel and cooked up some conejo (rabbit) for dinner and played some cribbage.


More to come...

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:35 am 
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UW Climber
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Looks like a fun climb in a beautiful area of the world! What an awesome way to explore Espana. Thanks for posting!


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:23 pm 
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Rodrigo
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Thanks for the nice trip report on Puig Campana. I am looking forward to the report on Penon de Ifach.

Let me just say a few words. First, this was a long day. Most of the climbing was pretty easy but there were two thought provoking parts of the climb. At one point somewhere at about the 8th pitch there is a point where things get a bit interesting. There isn't a lot of pro, it's quite exposed, and the moves get a little awkward. Again around the 11th pitch where Craig took the 5.9ish route there isn't a lot of pro and the moves get a bit harder.

This was my first alpine experience following Craig and I can't say enough good things. Pro placement was great. More importantly, his overall composure would have been comforting to any climber following him. At times I found myself a bit nervous due to exposure but Craig's solid leading helped me relax. Finally, this was a long day and the harder climbing was between pitches 8 and 11. I can't comment on how fatigued Craig felt near the end but he certainly didn't show it.

Well done sir.

Wait, one more thing. in the blending together of pitches you are missing your favorite part of the climb. At the beginning of the 10th or 11th pitch there is a long, angled crack with really nice holds on it. Solid liebacks with an airy feeling...lots of them. I remember how excited you were after that pitch so I though I should remind you how awesome you thought it was.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:50 am 
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Alpine Slogger
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Looks awesome!

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:04 am 
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Mountain Rhombus
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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 3:31 pm 
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Cap'n Wingspan
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Pretty awesome looking day out guys. The rock is really interesting looking, it's limestone right? reminds me of the of Madagascar, of which I've also only seen pictures.


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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 7:39 pm 
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Mountain Rhombus
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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 8:36 pm 
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Rodrigo
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Evan, I'm not sure if you had the chance to do any sport climbing near St. George while you were in Utah. If you did climb any limestone down there you might have some experience on similar limestone. I found the texture and weathering to be very to some of the crags in that area.


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