Costa Blanca Via Ferratas
Throughout the Costa Blanca's coastal and inland regions there are numerous canyons, cliffs and mountains that provide perfect rock climbing opportunities, and scaling the Costa Blanca Via Ferratas is an excellent way for novice climbers to practice this popular sport. First conceived in Italy's Dolomite mountain ranges during the first World War, Via Ferrata which is Italian for ‘iron way' came about when, due to the cumbersome weigh of their military equipment, Italian and Austrian army troops engaged in battle were struggling terribly on the steep mountain climbs. This led to forwarding troops being sent out to construct ladders, handholds, wire cables and bridges which today have been adapted to recreational climbing and are known as Via Ferratas.
Costa Blanca Via Ferratas
Due to their increasing popularity, Via Ferratas are now found worldwide and Spain's Costa Blanca boasts a number of climbs of varying difficulty. As I mentioned earlier, these are a great way for budding rock climbers to gain strength and confidence in their climbing abilities. The mainstay of a Via Ferrata is a steel cable that runs along the climbing route and is fixed to the rock face at varying intervals enabling climbers to secure themselves as they climb. In addition to the cable there are carved hand and foot holds, metal rungs (stemples), fixed ladders and makeshift bridges. Many are suitable for novices, but some should not be tackled without experience and or a qualified guide.
Monte Ponoch – Located near the picturesque mountain town of Polop, less than a 30 minute drive from Benidorm, this is the longest climb in the Province of Alicante. The height of Monte Ponoch is 1186 metres and the route starts about half way up. Comprising several long sections that also involve an overhang, the route finishes at around 770 metres and due to the overhang and two 30 metre abseils on the decent, some level of rock climbing experience is advisable.
Xorret de Cati – Located in Castalla, about an hour's drive from Benidorm, this route is great for novices. The climb is only 50 metres and takes you up an unusual rock formation with regular cable bolts, stemples and one small overhang. Climbers can hook up to bolt rings to abseil down or use a short gully close to the summit for their descent.
L'Aventador – Of all the Costa Blanca Via Ferratas this is considered by many as the most difficult and therefore should only be attempted by experienced climbers. Located near the town of Xátiva, about 1.30 minutes from Benidorm, the route is both physically and technically challenging. There is no traverse during the 100 metre climb which has several overhangs and widely spaced stemples, making for tricky going in parts but rewarding climbers with fantastic views over the surrounding valley and Río Albaida.
Castillo de Salvatierra – Another great climb for beginners that offers beautiful views over the castle in Villena, about 1.20 minutes drive from Benidorm. Comprising of two parallel routes, two Tibetan wire bridges and several vertical climbs, this modern route offers a bit of everything and makes for good climbing practice before tackling more adventurous routes.
Penya del Figueret – Just outside the town of Relleu, this is one of the closer climbs to Benidorm at less than a 40 minute drive. A well planned route with a 90 metre climb, several vertical pitches and a traverse, climbers can choose a 25 metre abseil or around a 30 minute ridge scramble for their exit route.
These are just some of the Costa Blanca Via Ferratas, and anyone keen on taking up this sport or similar sports like hiking, rock climbing or canyoning should contact one of the reputable climbing clubs such as Costa Blanca Mountain Friends.