THE BIG 'CLIP UP'
The Costa Blanca area of Spain has been attracting rock climbers for several decades,
but ever more so since the publication of a German produced guide book in the mid 1980's
aptly named Sun Rock. This book, also covering the South coast of France & Italy, captured the mood of the time and the flood gates opened. It enlightened thousands of British & North European climbers, frustrated with trying to deal with their own miserable climate during the winter months. The appeal of sun drenched rock in December, January & February, the cheap cost of living and the carefree attitude to life of the Spanish people was not lost on the ones who were savvy enough to leaf through the pages.
Initially the interest was focused on the big mountain outcrops such as Puig Campana,
Penon d'Ifach and Mascarat Gorge. Many climbs were pioneered in the traditional manner requiring the leader to place their own protection by searching out cracks and weaknesses in the rock suitable for inserting metal pegs or 'chocks'. They were also quite often major undertakings, requiring good navigational skills in addition to technical ability & competence. They remain long climbs over several 'pitches', often with complicated descents.
Fast forward a decade and trends in the climbing world were changing. The emphasis,
especially at the cutting-edge, had for some time been shifting to technically gymnastic test pieces. The modern climbers were seeking out ever more difficult sections of rock, resulting in the first ascentionists of the day having to insert permanent bolted protection due to the lack of natural features available. This meant drilling holes in blank sections of rock in order to attach a 'hanger' which can be clipped with minimal fuss by the lead climber.
continued on page 6.