Days 94 – The worst climb in Spain

Tuesday 16th October 2018

Today is due to be the last good weather day for a few days so, we head back up to Toix for another day of climbing.

You will be pleased to know by the way that I asked a local how Toix is pronounced so can now reveal how close I was with my guesses.

Not very.

It’s pronounced toy-sh. Though the “sh” bit doesn’t really do justice to the vocal gymnastics required to sound truly like a local.

Back up at Toix we decide to go to a different sector. An older sector. A quieter sector. We now know why it is quieter. It is a s**t sector. (For those adults reading this with young children I can offer the following useful, if technically inaccurate, translations for the word “s**t”: [Spanish: Estupido; Japanese: Oroka 愚か)])

I chose the best of a bunch and headed up. It is difficult to describe in what ways the climb was so bad to non-climbers as it’s rather technical but I will have a go. Ready:

Bloody awful!

Hmmm, that doesn’t quite do it. I’ll have another go…

Toix is predominately a sport climbing area i.e. the climbs are bolted. Like an indoor climbing gym climbers don’t have to carry a rack of trad climbing gear… oh dear… Right, start again… In rock climbing there are two types of rock climbing; Trad and Sport.

1. Trad or Traditional climbing is where the climber climbs the rock relying solely on equipment he (or she) carries with them for protection. For example the climber must carry and place nuts (no sniggering at the back Patterson) in cracks (Laschinger, if I have to tell you again…) in the rock to protect progress.

Protection on a ‘trad’ climb

This is what a trad rack might look like:

Example of a Trad rack – as borrowed from t’internet

2. Sport climbing, on the other hand comprises routes bolted by people using bloody great drills. The climber then simply has to clip the bolts as they pass.

Bolted sport climbing – there will be a test later

Consequently a sport climbing rack is much smaller and lighter.

Mr P with both minimal sport climbing rack and even less dress sense

Jeepers! All this just to tell you how bad one lousy climb was.

Meanwhile, back in Toix and Mr P has started off up the rubbish climb. It starts well; Couple of bolts, all good. Then, about 10 metres up, the ground changes and the bolts disappear only to be replaced by ancient bits of climbing rope threaded through holes in the limestone rock. These are not to be trusted with anything weighing more than an ant. Mr P has no trad climbing gear with him and very little to make threads with. No matter, the climbing is easy and he continues up the increasingly broken ground.

What Mr P does need however is a lower off point (see picture below) to abseil from. He has no intention of making one which means leaving expensive gear behind.

Bolted lower off point for sport climbing.

10 minutes of traversing, down climbing and general scrabbling about and Mr P manages to traverse across the rock to an abseil point above a different climb. However, this magical mystery tour means that he has run out of rope (the rope is 70 metres long and you must halve that for the maximum 35m abseil – Mr P has used about 40 m – hell this is complicated). Only option now is to bring Mrs P up and both abseil from the same point hoping that it is less than 35 metres. Visual check suggests this is the case.

Long story short, 3 nice climbers from the UK turn up at the same abseil point with 2 x 50 metre ropes and we all abseil off that.

Mrs P waits her turn to abseil off the worst climb in Spain

The day is saved when we move to a newer sector and some really lovely climbs with great names such as Calpe Grooves and Benidorm Boogie.

Mrs P. In her element

Their are 5 other climbers at the sector. All from the UK. 2 from the Lakes and 3 from Leeds who we met before a few days ago climbing at Castel de Guadalest. They are great value. At one point 2 of them spot a big lizard. The third has just reached the top of a climb. His partner tells him to “hang on a bit.” and leaves him dangling 20 metres up while he and his mate spend 10 minutes scratching around in the dirt trying to entice this foot long ‘monster’ out of the undergrowth with raisins.

This chap is not alone dangling in space however as Mrs P similarly abandons Mr P and goes to join them.

20 metres up all you can hear is two lonely climbers shouting; “Hello! Anybody there?”

Great photo though Mrs P. Some of it is even in focus. Can I come down now please?

No prizes for wildlife photographer of the year with this one

We climb till 5pm and we are the only people left. Then we head back down to the campsite via a small beer and a visit to our favourite, somewhat Japanese sounding, supermarket. Masymas. (Go on, say it in a singsong voice. You know you want to. Very Japanese.) Where we buy ingredients for a chicken curry. Yum!

Get drenched going back to van which is perhaps a sign of things to come.

Tune in tomorrow when we do some washing. Bet you can’t wait!

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