Costa Blanca (2005)

This was the first Rockfax guidebook dedicated exclusively to the Costa Blanca and was the most comprehensive book ever published to sport and trad climbing on Spain’s ‘white coast’ – weighing in at 368 pages. It covered a host of superb cliffs between Leyva in the far south to Gandia in the north.

Category: Styles: , Location: SpainAuthors: Alan James, Chris Craggs

January 2005






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9 reviews for Costa Blanca (2005)

  1. Sloper

    Wish I’d got my hands on one before we went out, but luckilly Sam at the Orange House lent us hers. Incidentally, a local (can’t remember the club he was a member of, but he seemed a decent bloke and ‘solid’ climber) was *very* complimentary of the new guide and the layout. A bloody good book and look forward to putting it to use in the autumn.

  2. Adrian Bates

    The new Costa Blanca RockFax guide is upon us, and what a tome it is. At 368 pages it’s slightly larger than the previous edition, which also covered Mallorca and El Chorro. This is the 4th edition of their Spanish guide and credit is due for making the effort to keep this guide updated and fresh looking.

    The first impression that strikes you when you glance through is how colourful this edition is. All of the previous hand drawn topos and the black and white photo topos have been replaced with full colour photo versions. The guide is also packed with colourful action shots. In fact, from the orange cover onwards the whole impression is that the guide really exudes a feeling of Spanish warmth.

    This edition is the first time that the new alliance of Alan James and Chris Craggs has been applied to the Costa Blanca. The two used to produce separate, competing guides to the region, but the benefits of their collaboration are obvious in this combined version. There are a number of crags from Chris’s guide which have made it into the new publication, and I think many would agree with me that Alan’s Rockfax format is second to none when it comes to presentation.

    So what is new in this edition? Where have those extra hundred pages of Costa Blanca routes come from? Well, for the first time the RockFax guide has a Murcia section. This includes some stunning crags. Leyva, with its vast main wall, was in the original Chris Craggs book but Orihuella and La Panocha are brand new to any English guides, and the climbing appears excellent.

    The remaining sections, Alicante, Benidorm, Calpe, Xaló Valley and Gandia have all appeared in the guide before but all have new crags and new routes and have been reworked with the new colour topos and maps. These areas cover a huge range of climbing from the new mountain routes on Cabezon de Oro to the test pieces of Los Pinos.

    Another new feature that I must mention is the thumb index on the front edge of each page. Each section is easily identifiable, and within it each crag, making it very quick and easy to locate the area you require.

    I have a couple of concerns. I was a little surprised to see the overview map at the very back of the book. Its placement seemed a strange decision to start with but it makes no difference really, as it is easy to find and can still be used to locate the crag you are after.

    My other, more serious concern is with the photo topos themselves. Don’t get me wrong, they look fantastic and make locating routes incredibly easy but they fall down in just one respect. On large crags if the photo has been taken from a position too close to the crag a problem with foreshortening can occur with the upper sections. This can be seen on a couple of the topos where the top pitches look considerably shorter than they actually are. It is clear, however, that a great deal of effort has been spent in trying to avoid this problem wherever possible. My advice is obvious, really: check the route descriptions carefully before you start on a multi-pitch route to make sure you’re comfortable with the pitch lengths.

    Overall this is a stunning new guide and I have no hesitation in recommending it to those planning a trip to the Costa Blanca (especially as this is now the only English guide). Even for those that have the previous edition I think an upgrade would be well worth it. There is so much new in here, new areas, new routes, new topos that you just can’t help picking it up and flicking through, dreaming of your next trip.

    The Costa Blanca Rockfax costs £19.95 and is available from and most outdoor retailers.

  3. JasonCS

    Excellent book. Just come back from the Costa Blanca with the guide book and my gps. The whole week went smoothly, found every crag with ease. All guides book should be like this. Keep up the standard guys.

  4. Mike Mortimer

    When we first visited the Costa Blanca in the early eighties all we had was a description of the Campana’s Espolon Central and a few snippets of information about a big rock at Calpe (not too difficult to find) and a gorge near Alcoy (not worth the long drive we made over the Aitana to find it). The Espolon Central in shorts on a perfect day in the middle of winter with nobody else on the mountain was a revelation and I returned to tell Marjorie about a line I’d spotted that looked brilliant but straightforward, just asking to be climbed. Of course, it had an arrow at the bottom and we discovered that Diedros Magicos wasn’t quite as easy as I expected. We also did Polvos Magicos (it was the obvious thing to tackle without any knowledge of the Penon), rather concerned about how we would get down and were quite relieved to meet a family eating their butties on the top! Eventually we met up with a local climber who introduced us to Toix Este (before the road was dug out) complete with the most horrendous home-made in situ gear; he also told us about the huge multi-day (they probably were then) routes on the Ponoch.
    On subsequent visits we explored other areas, some with Joe Brown, still an obsessive new-router, and gradually realised (to a tiny extent) what potential the Blanca had for winter climbing holidays. The discovery of the Competition Crag, as Sella was known to us then, was an important event soon to be followed by the publication of ‘Sun Rock’, a guide to climbing along the Mediterranean coast of Spain and France.
    This seemed to be the stimulus for an influx of climbers from most parts of Europe and it created a market for guide-books, which has been met mainly by English language productions, the latest and by far the best of which is this Rockfax collaboration between Chris Craggs and Alan James, following on from their gritstone guides in the same style. The previous edition included Mallorca and El Chorro and it was clearly necessary to ditch these (presumably they will warrant at least one more guide) to make way for the inclusion of about twenty extra crags (most notable of which is Leyva, one of Spain’s most important climbing venues, now within easy reach by car from Alicante) not previously covered.
    It really is a tour de force, the fruit of much research over quite a long period of time (Chris produced his first guide to this area in 1990, Alan James has been responsible for three previous editions) and this gives the text an authoratative feel with lots of little details and advice that instil confidence in the work. In addition Rockfax has clearly settled on a successful house-style that makes its guides exceptionally easy to use, with a comprehensive introduction, colour coded route grades and a neat edge of page indexing sysem. However, it is the superb artwork that sets this guide apart with high definition photo-topos and a set of action (well, perhaps one or two of them do look a little posed) photographs that really capture the spirit of the area, all beautifully reproduced.
    Despite all this I do have some reservations, although these probably will not be of much concern to most climbers. First of all I find it difficult to believe the statement that Dave Gregory proof read the text as there are quite a few textual mistakes, not to mention the odd green grocer’s apostrophe – a single read by a half decent proof reader would have eliminated most of these. However, they are just annoying and, as far as I can tell, do not compromise the guide’s usefulness or accuracy.
    More serious, of course are inaccuracies or omissions that might lead climbers astray and there are a few instances. First, one that is so blatant that it is unlikely to cause problems. – the grade of Pictures of Perfection in The Bay of Echo One is given as 5 (HVS). Now the description of this in the previous edition was ambiguous and I spent a good ten minutes looking at it with a pair of binoculars and decided that, even with its 2 ENPs, it is a piece of hard and serious climbing (albeit on perfect rock). If I am wrong and its smooth bulging appearance hides some big holds (seems unlikely) then it must be the best HVS pitch in the area. A bigger problem, and this deserves a health warning, is the brief account of the Ponoch, one of the most daunting pieces of rock in the Blanca. The routes with immediate abseil descents are not a problem but the descent from Valencianos escape route and Flor de Luna is not described; whilst this is straight forward (easy scrambling and two abseils) it might be difficult to find in poor visibility and one is on a big mountain. In addition the description of the descent from the top of Via Valencianos is rather inadequate and requires a diagram as there is at least one misplaced abseil anchor that, if used, leaves the unwary dangling in space at the end of a double 60m rope. It is to be hoped that this does not lead to the sort of epics that have taken place on the Campana in recent years. Anybody wishing to taste the delights of the Ponoch, and there really are many, should get hold of the Real and Tudela (2001) best 112 routes in Valenciana guide (listed on page 30) – for those into spectacular multi-pitch routes this is a must and it shows the descents clearly.
    Another criticism I have is of the decision to leave out the routes on the big crags above Echo valley that were included in the previous edition. Although, I understand the reasons for this it leaves a hole which I hope will be filled in the future, especially as some spectacular new routes have been added recently.
    Still, it has to be admitted that most climbers come for the less serious sports routes and to them these will be mere carping criticisms, which they probably are. In summary, this is an immensely competent guide which is an essential purchase for all who can climb at grade V or above. For anybody who has an old guide there is more than enough new climbing in this to justify the outlay but to those who have never had the experience of leaving a cold windy, wet Britain and, within a few hours, climbing in shorts and tee-shirt on perfect rock I would say rush out and get a copy – it might change your life.
    The guide to the most important winter rock climbing in Europe
    An essential purchase
    Includes descriptions of crags not previously available
    Outstanding art work – the crag photo-topos markedly enhance its usefulness.
    Well- illustrated with inspiring action photographs covering the grade spectrum
    The well-organised and super clear lay-out makes it very user friendly
    Would have benefited from some careful proof-reading
    Pretty comprehensive but omits some major mountain routes (especially some popular outings on the Ponoch)

  5. Carl Dawson

    It’s magnificent; the sleekiest, slinkiest yet. And yet, unlike other recent publications, it is not just fit for the coffee table .. it has got everything; it’s the holiday climber’s complete bible

  6. Karin Magog

    This is the latest guide in the Rockfax series and hit the shops at the end of January. It’s an impressive tomb offering everything we’ve come to expect from the Rockfax team. Since the guide covers a much larger area than before, it has been split into six geographically, starting from the Murcia area in the south, and then moving north to Alicante, Benidorm, Calpe, and The Jalon Valley before finally finishing with Gandia in the far north. With such a vast area being covered there are plenty of new crags not covered in previous editions of this guide. For multi-pitch sport check out Leyva and Cabezon, but if it’s more adventurous multi-pitch trad you’re after try the Divino or Segaria. For short, steep sports climbs some of the newer crags in the Jalon Valley (such as Los Pinos and Murla) sound good, whereas Cabezon caters more for stamina climbers with some long 40m routes. There’s also plenty of new venues for the low to mid-grade climber with crags such as Altea, Sax and Marin all sounding worth a visit. As usual the guide includes an informative and detailed introduction, with info on accommodation, car hire, flights, climbing shops, etc. The full colour layout makes it an attractive guide to use and the photodiagrams are all excellent quality. Those crags where photodiagrams weren’t practicable are well serviced by clear topos in the Rockfax style. There are plenty of colour action shots, which although not stunning, give a good flavour of the character of the climbing as well as the crag setting. In all this is a great looking guide, which covers this vast area well. No matter what you are after there’s something here for everyone, from the short, steep sports climbs of The Jalon Valley to the large, multi-pitch trad offerings on the Puig Campana. What better destination for some winter sun?

  7. Pudz

    Just come back from a week’s climbing in the Blanca. The new guide is excellent – well put together, easy to find areas and crags. Photos and topos of routes are are spot on. Maps and approaches to crags are again first class. The standard is set! Keep up the good work. Still looking for all the Easter eggs!

  8. Brian Wilkinson

    What a brilliant Costa Blanca guide you have just brought out – there is so much more climbing out there than I previously realised. We have been going out to the Blanca for the last 17 years or more and it’s great to know that there is still something to go for. The topo drawings in the old guide were good but the colour photo-topos are even better and Alan and Chris have done an awful lot of research regarding access, approach and other information which is very clearly presented in the new guide. It’s a shame about the odd typo here and there but this is a very minor problem compared to the enormous amount of accurate data within the guide. This Rockfax has surely set the standard for years to come.

  9. Mel Holmes

    I’ve just got back from a weeks climbing in Spain and want to congratulate you on the excellent guide book. It was extremely useful and very comprehensive – and also very entertaining (my girlfriend is still pulling out her hair having found only 7 easter eggs!)
    An added bonus was finding a full page photo of me climbing Lliberpool on page 279! I meet Chris Craggs there briefly at Easter last year when he was researching the new guide book. If there are any further re-prints I would be grateful if you could replace “unknown climber” with “Mel Holmes”. Though the fact I fell off it not long after it was taken needn’t be mentioned!

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