La Solana and Lliber RHS

La Solana is a newish crag on the hillside just west of Lliber and immediately above the village of Xalo (Xs seem to have won out over Js in the battle for Alicante place-names). The guidebook promises a flat 7 mins walk (“follow the path from the parking direct to the crag“) but neglects to mention that there are TWO paths! It turns out that you don’t follow the obvious way-marked path with the painted post marker, but actually choose the hidden smaller rightmost path, as we discovered after much bushwhacking! Here’s a trail so you can avoid the same fate!

It’s a small but attractive piece of rock, which enjoys shade until around 2pm (here’s a shot taken on departure). Only a couple of dozen routes, and apart from a scruffy looking V, the entry grade is 6a+ and soon disappears into the 7s, but there looked to be enough to occupy us on a roasting hot day.

Three parallel grooves at the left hand end of the crag give strong lines, and we really enjoyed To lo hace, 6b+, and Fisura del Datil, 6a+ (photo below):

Perhaps the pick of the crag looked to be the steep arete of Sombrana, 7a, and there was a young Brit team doing battle with it as we arrived – clearly no pushover. I was surprised to just about get the bottom 3m, but then stopped short by a big rock over onto a ledge and the subsequent roll-over move around the arete was completely baffling. Tough indeed!

Just to the left, La Vall del Rock, 6c+ up a technical groove looked much more my cup of tea, but looks can be deceptive as I was spat off that too. By now the sun had come round and it was time to beat a retreat (though perhaps escape an hour earlier would have been an even better idea!)

That still left a good chunk of the afternoon, so we went a couple of miles down the road to explore the newer routes on the recently developed Sector Riverbed at Lliber.

Helen did a couple of enjoyable routes including…

With plenty more to go at, we came back a couple of days later and started on Sector Alejandria (LHS of picture below, with Riverside on the right, split by the impressive cave of Sector Ramp)

Libertaria, 6b, makes for a tough but enjoyable warm up. Just right, Pranayama gets 7a in Rockfax and 6b+ in the local guide – tough initial 20ft and I know which I’ll take 😉

Further left, Chicharra Man, 7a, is absolutely outstanding. An easyish groove leads to a great flake crack in very steep terrain. Unfortunately the flakes run out for a few metres and there’s a tough move to regain the system (too tough for me), and that’s before you are faced with a sting in the tail just short of the chains.

Another chastening episode on another new 7a, Tontito, had me downing tools for the day, so we headed back to the Riverbed sector and bumped into Jeff and Anne together with a bunch of the Sheffield mafia.

Helen enjoyed Selfies.

Anne on Rio de Roca, 6b+
Sheffield crew

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