What makes a good climbing trip? Well, these days, apart from the obvious such as good weather, great rock and great routes, I look for venues which are less frequented by main stream euro craggers than I perhaps might have done 20 years ago. The obvious destinations such as Calpe, Sella, El Chorro and Kalymnos are most definitely off the radar. I visited the Sierra Espuña region with Jonathan Lagoe in 2006 while competing in an orienteering event. We managed a bit of climbing but time was short and my motivation was pointing in a different direction. I made it back 5 years later with Cynthia Grindley and Colin Moody, this time just for the climbing. Apart from the first day we barely saw any other climbers all week and had the crags to ourselves most days. Some routes were slightly polished but on the whole the area obviously receives far less traffic than the busier crags up the road on the Costa Blanca. If you are looking for an alternative to the obvious well trodden Costa destinations and prefer less frequented crags away from the hustle of the costal strip then the Sierra Espuña would be worth a visit.
The Rockfax Costa Blanca guide covers Leiva (or Leyva) and some of the crags nearer to the City of Murcia. There’s probably not enough to keep an average team going for a week and if you didn’t explore further you would be missing out on some excellent destinations. The Sierra Espuña guide covers more areas and is written in Spanish and English. The topos are pretty poor by modern standards and some of the crag approach descriptions are somewhat lacking. You need both guides for a hassle free trip. In addition there is information on murciaclimb.com. Topos are located in this section http://www.murciaclimb.com/croquis/
Where to Stay
Camping Sierra Espuña in El Berro is a good option. The wooden chalets are not cheap but you can also camp. Facilities are good. The village has three bars all of which offer good food at very reasonable prices; you can get a meal and a beer for around €10. El Berro has a small grocery shop and a bakery. The parking at Leiva is just 10 mins drive up the road while the crags in the Mula area are around 30-40mins drive depending on your destination. You could also access the lower altitude crags around Murcia in less than an hour; useful if the weather is bad further in land.
The principal crag of the area featuring numerous multi-pitch routes and some shorter single pitch sectors. The Rockfax guide has superior photos and topos of the main crag with the popular classics listed. The shorter crags at Levia are covered by Rockfax with the notable exception of Sector Alegría. The topo at Las Cuevas - Derecha appears to be incorrect which is a shame because there is some excellent technical face climbing here. The Spanish guide isn’t much use either but using both guides together it is possible to sort out routes and grades. The popular Sector of La Pecera and the Cuevas sectors 1 and 2 are accurately covered by both guides with some slight variation on grades. View Leiva in a larger map Approach Notes: The map on page 44 of Rockfax Costa Blanca is missing a right turn on the road so better use these notes: Sierra Espuña 0.0KM Junction, turn sharp right 2.1KM Junction, turn right 5.2KM Turn right on dirt road 5.5KM Parking 6.4KM
This is the continuation sectors west of Ferrari stretching for about 1KM. We didn’t get chance to explore this area properly but there is obviously lots of high quality routes on limestone and conglomerate cliffs. Sector La Fisuras looks particularly good. Most of the routes have names written at the base so you can work out grades using the topos on murciaclimb.com or from the Ukclimbing.com Crags dB View Mula Climbing in a larger map
A good crag for aging has-beens. Short climbs on nice rough rock. The routes are a lot harder than they look due to the lack of in-cut holds. Don’t make it a priority visit, but its worth calling by on the way back from Ferrari or if you want an easy day.
Again the approach is not clear in the guide. From the outskirts of Pliego as you are driving down hill from the direction of El Berro, look for a right turn sign posted ‘Fuente Librilla’. Follow this road up hill to near the top of the pass and turn left on a dirt track which runs along-side a fence. Follow the track for about 1KM to a parking area on the edge of the escarpment. Follow a path beside a wooden fence. At the far corner of the perimeter fence of the second house (500M from parking), cut off left and find a short descent gully to the base of the crag. Walk along left to reach the crag. If you miss this descent you can also descend just below a wooden cross further along the path.