Spain Guide


Climbing in Alicante

Rock climbing in the Alicante province of Spain is becoming increasingly popular among climbers seeking an alternative to the well polished, bolted and busy mountain faces of some of the better known climbing destinations in Europe.

In the mountain ranges which seem to loom unceasingly one after another behind the crowded beach resorts of the Costa Blanca, climbers can indulge their passion for days on end without sight of a fellow enthusiast. Even the specialist tour guides who make a living out of introducing visitors to this little known area say they are constantly finding and developing new climbs.

Back in the 1970s, former British Mountaineering Council president Denis Gray rightly predicted that this virtually untouched mountainous territory would become a favoured playground for future rock climbers. He described it as one of the most beautiful areas he had ever seen and mercifully, the mass tourist invasion of the intervening years has left these virgin mountains unblemished.

Guided holidays in the region are offered by a number of different companies, some of which tailor make climbing courses depending on the ability of participants. Many local guides accept complete novices whilst others specialise in high pressure adventure climbing requiring applicants to be experienced in rock climbs officially graded as very difficult or severe.

Some of the most challenging climbing areas are to be found in the Sierra Bernia and Sierra Aitana mountain ranges. The Aitana, inland from Benidorm, is the highest mountain in the area at 1,559 metres an awesome confection of shining limestone, rocky ridges and virgin crags. The Sierra Bernia, which dominates the skyline behind the resorts of Calpe and Altea, rises from the sea into a four kilometre jagged ridge punctuated by enough pinnacles and buttresses to make it inaccessible to the casual rambler. The highest peak of 1,129 metres is at the western end of the ridge. Walkers without special equipment can scramble along various sections of the ridge but those with abseiling and climbing gear are better placed to explore the Bernia's host of hidden treasures. Eagles soaring above the mountain range are a common sight and in spring time the lower slopes are carpeted with brightly coloured flowers while the sound of goat bells and the pungent aroma of wild rosemary and thyme fill the air.

Whilst the Aitana and Bernia mountains have an air of remoteness and inaccessibility, the region is easily reached from most European destinations. There are daily cheap flights from many UK and other European airports into Alicante's El Altet airport and the international airport at Murcia, further south.