The Easter week meet to Calpe was a great success. Ten members old and new flew out to Alicante (some joining us from Saudi others joining midweek) for some hot rock. Everyone had a great time in a great location in Calpe. There was a huge choice of crags within half an hour’s drive, and one within ten minutes, including the walk in!

The villa was in the holiday home part of Calpe, Maryville, a rabbit warren of narrow roads up the hillside south of the town centre. The team collecting the keys ended up at the wrong address, and the rest told them how brilliant the villa was at the correct address and hurry up with the keys. However, this also turned out to be the wrong villa (the keys not working was a clue) – and finally the correct villa was spied over the road. The villa was very comfortable, with good sized bedrooms, a well equipped kitchen, living room and dining room, and a citrus orchard providing fresh grapefruit, oranges and loquats for breakfast. A shopping trip was quickly organised whilst some of the boys headed off to the crag so as not to crowd the shops!

On the first full day Holly, Mike, Pete, Claire, and Roni went to one of the local crags, Toix, to ease into the week whilst Mark and Ed, and Phil and Helen set off to climb the Penon, the huge limestone tower dominating Calpe. Everyone had a great day, single and multi pitch routes being done at Toix, and the Penon teams cruising up the 9 pitches of Diedro UBSA (220m HVS 5c) with ease, despite the traffic en-route and a cat-inhabited summit.

Sport climbing Calpe with Solihull Mouintaineering Club

Mark with Helen on Phil in fine positions high on Deidro UBSA (HVS 5c), on the Penon de Ilfach

The next day was the only really wet day of the week, Holly and Mike getting soaked on a trail run on the local hills, and everyone else getting equally soaked at a crag near Xalo.

Donna arrived in the evening setting the scene for the highlight of the trip, the Bernia Ridge. This long ridge scramble with fantastic views of the whole area is sometimes described as the Cuillins of the Costa Blanca and often sees teams bail due to running out of time. The SMC group went at it with vigour, scrambling, climbing, abseiling and summiting the whole route in around ten hours. Mike had been waiting 15 years for this route since a previous trip and was well pleased with the day.

Not everyone did the Bernia Ridge, Mark, Ed, Donna and Roni explored another crag in the Xalo area and Phil returned to the Penon and rope soloed a 10 pitch E1/6a.

In the evenings people took turns to cook, with many people helping out with the prep, Helen’s Paella and Ed’s Tapas were great hits. Wine, beer, and brandy flowed as people recounted their day’s activities.

Some highlights for our various teams included completing Parle, a remarkable route requiring a 55m free hanging abseil through a hole in the roof of a huge hollow headland at the Pirates of the Caribbean sector of Toix. The climb then spiralled back up and out of the hole in three pitches. Mike and Holly ran the famous 5000 Steps 14Km walk, up rock steps carved by Mooriscos prior to their expulsion from Spain in the early 17th century by Phillipe III. Watery events included Phil and Helen doing a scuba dive at the base of the Penon, and nearly everyone getting in the villa pool – the coolest expereince of the week? Other notable events were Roni getting back to leading 5+, and the Lubranos confidently completing their first independent multi pitch climb and abseil descent.

The final day arrived with some folk stopping in and relaxing, and others squeezing in a last climb or two. Phil finished the week by being the only casualty, nearly decking from 10m up a sport route and limping off with a sprained ankle.

All in all a great trip and definately not the last official hot rock trip for the SMC.