Poet – Les Penyes Roges, Sector dels Pouets

We’ve been climbing on the Costa Blanca for over 30 years and must have accumulated at least a year “in residence” over that time (maybe two!) so there’s always the worry that we’ll run out of crags. Happily, thanks to the efforts of the local activists and abundance of rock, that hasn’t happened yet – each new visit unearths a couple of new venues, usually shared in hushed tones along with scribbled topos or a link to a “work in progress” list of route names on the web.

Imagine our delight at the publication of a huge new local Costa Blanca guide the Christmas before last – and frustration when it became apparent that we wouldn’t be able to visit for a while. Everything comes to (s)he who waits, and here we are – cracking the spine on 650 pages of new adventures.

Not only does this document most of the various “secret” crags we’ve discovered over the last few years (replacing scraps of paper and bits of heresay) but it includes over a dozen new (to us) venues (and that’s only counting ones where there’s routes we can do). All in all there are 17 post-its marking crags to be visited, including a few old favourites that have new sectors added.

Working on proximity and advertised grade range, we picked Poet as our first stop – an easily accessible sunny crag in the Jalon valley near Pedreguer, with about 30 routes from IVs to 7s. The crag is signposted off the main road (all be it discreetly)…

… which is probably just as well as otherwise you might miss the small track. The parking area indicated in the guide is taped off, but there’s a newly created space for about 3 cars if you drive about 20m beyond the crag, and the nearest route is probably only 2 minutes from the car.

It’s an attractive lump of rock, but two things were obvious on arrival. It is VERY steep (even on the wings where the shorter and allegedly easier routes are) and each of the three Spanish teams present were spending a lot of time top-roping and sitting on the rope on said “easy” routes.

Appearances were not deceptive! We discovered possibly the hardest IV+ (Bohemio Sonador), and V+ (Extrema y Dura) on the planet! Though maybe the name of the latter should have been a clue. Avidya, 6a+, was tough but nearer the mark (and like a number of the routes here, it would be worth stick-clipping the second bolt). Heat and cumulative tiredness might have been factors but I felt a bit sandbagged!

El Sermon de la Flor

Deluding myself that perhaps the grades would be more in line on the trickier routes I embarked on what quickly became an aid extravaganza on La Teoria es Buena, 6c. From 7b onsighter the day before to 6a+ struggler in 24hrs – the experience reminded me of a line from my favourite poem:

If you can meet with triumph and disaster – And treat those two impostors just the same;

Helen was wise enough to point out that the actual climbing was very good (and you couldn’t complain about the setting or the quality of rock) – you’ve just got to leave your ego safely back at the campsite! So, don’t be put off, give it a look, but pack a clip stick and a bailer ‘biner, but not your ego!

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