Looking for a Sunday stroll on a ridge line for a full 180 degrees coastal view? Consider the Toix Ridge via Cilber (II, 5+) on the Spanish Costa Blanca
My girlfriend, Kim, and I spent a few days off at the Spanish seaside on the Costa Blanca in February to regain some vitamin D after the long darkness of the Danish winter. We brought our climbing gear and decided to spend a day on one of the many different multi pitch climbs to introduce her to this enduring climbing discipline – our project was clear, the Toix Ridge via Cilber (II, 5+), a six pitches bolted route with a spectacular ridge walk to finish off the climb with an alpine flavour.
The Toix Ridge via Cilber (II, 5+) is actually two routes in combination. The Toix Ridge can be accessed through several other routes, Cilber being one of them. We chose this specific setup as we believed it had the different characteristics of a good introductory multi pitch climb – and boy, we we not dissatisfied!
Enjoy the sunny ‘ of life
Finding the Toix Ridge via Cilber (II, 5+) is really easy. The route is found in the Sierra de Toix a small mountain range just a few kilometres southwest of Calpe. Whether you stay north or south of the ‘Sierra de Toix’ head for Maryvilla, a small village with holiday homes on the hill side. Drive towards Castillo Maryvilla and park on… from there you will as a dirt road and the south face of the… on your left side. Follow the dirt road for 15 meters until you see a trail leading towards to face. Break off the road onto the trail and follow it for 100 meter uphill towards to face until you reach a tree and a …. you will see the name ‘Cilber’ with red paint. Look up, and you will see the line of bolts. The length of the different pitches have also been written, but I would say they are quite off compared to what the Rockfax guide book says. Settle with that.
Start hard on the Toix Ridge via Cilber
The hardest parts of the Toix Ridge via Cilber (II, 5+) is the first two pitches. The first pitch is 28 meters and follows a … onto a buttress. It is pretty slabby with small holds, but nothing hard. The first pitch is graded 5 on the French scale with I reckon is pretty accurate. It gets you warmed up. The pitch ends just on the right side of an overhang and a short crack going straight up.
The second pitch is short. It follows the crack up a pretty tight corner that you conquer through a few powerful moves and some lay backing. You really can’t apply crack climbing techniques as the crack is too wide. But the pitch is really fun and you need to think about where you put feet with some knee dropping. The pitch is rather short and really well bolted. This is the crux and is graded 5+. The belay station is at the top of the crack.
Watch the video below on the complete adventure on the Toix Ridge via Cilber (II, 5+) or check it out on https://youtu.be/LOSALZBy_xU.
Less sustained further up
The third pitch and fourth pitches are less sustained than the first two and the difficulty ease up. They are both 25 meters and are really nice for putting in some milage climbing multi pitch routes. The pitches are graded 4 and 3, and if you want to move fast you could consider simul climbing the fourth pitch. Route finding would be difficult if it wasn’t for the red painted arrows that leads you towards a ledge with another crack in a corner. This is where the fifth pitch begins.
A big finale!
The Rockfax guide book do talk about a steep corner, but what a corner! This is indeed just as satisfying a section as the crux of the Toix Ridge via Cilber (II, 5+) on the second pitch.
The Rockfax guide book actually describes the fifth and sixth pitches as a 40 meter grade 4+ pitch. I don’t believe this is entirely correct. On top of the corner an abseil ring and a bolt is available to set up a belay station and I would advise you to break the final pitch into two separate pitches. If not you will face a lot of rope drag as the pitch twists and turns, and you will loose any ability to communicate with your second. And climbing with a lesser experienced partner I like the benefit of getting her over the corner before moving on. Besides this I would grade the fifth pitch with the steep corner 5+ as you need to climb powerful up the steep – if not slightly overhanging – corner. The sixth pitch I would grade 4.
When you have powered your way up the corner and embarked on the sixth and final pitch you start with a bit of scrambling right up slabby ground. Again, follow the red painted arrows until you reach a short, narrow steep chimney. The Rockfax guide book does not talk about this, but the bolt line goes through it. There are also two bolts at the entrance to the chimney, but we skipped those. Climb the chimney, and you will find your self at the top of the route and at a large ledge, where you can experience a 180 degree view of the valley below and the Puig Campana mountain in the far distance.
The Toix Ridge
But this is not the end! You can abseil down if you want, but when you are there you should give yourself a treat and experience the spectacular ridge walk that follow. The Rockfax guide book speaks of breaking the ridge into five separate pitches, but I guess that depends on you own experience and confidence. I belayed Kim three times. There are no bolts along the ridge and no bolted belay stations. So you need to bring some gear of your own. I will speak to that below.
When you are done enjoying the views of the valley below, rope up together and start scrambling your way up the ridge line. There is a text and an arrow painted red that says “50 meters”. Follow that. It is pretty obvious. The start of the ridge is pretty broad and you reach a small summit. We took some video and lifted off our small DJI Spark drone to get some shots from above that you can see in the video above. Check it out!
As you leave the small summit at the beginning of Toix Ridge (II) you start descending a bit and the ridge becomes narrower. Continue until you reach a tree and a face. You can either follow the track going right or you can climb the face direct at approximately grade 5 according to the Rockfax guide book. We scrambled down right and headed back up on the ridge after about 20 meters.
Back on the ridge it becomes really narrow and you start ascending towards the summit of the Sierra de Toix.
The real adventure on the Toix Ridge (II) begins when ascending towards the real summit of the ridge. It is a very narrow section with an enjoyable, yet really exposed, ascend. It is about 40 meters long and ends at the summit of the Toix Ridge (II). The summit is broad and you can easily drop your backpacks if you want to enjoy the view towards Puig Campana to the north and and the iconic Peñón de Ifach to the south. From there the remainder of the ridge is pretty easy and you start your descend towards the end of the ridge.
Essential gear for the Toix Ridge via Cilber (II, 5+)
Bring your four screw gate carabiners and a 120 cm or 240 cm sling for anchor building. All anchors are well equipped with pretty fresh bolts. Bring a 60 meter single rope (as we did) or two 60 meters half ropes. We brought the single rope for the Toix Ridge (II) section so we could rope up on a strong rope. The longest pitch of Cilber (5+) is around 43 meters and there are plenty of places where you place slings or cord to build your own abseil points if you choose to bail. It is sufficient to bring eight quick draws of which a couple should be extendable alpine quick draws as the route takes some bends especially on the fourth and sixth pitch. I would also recommend bringing a light rack of small sized cams both for the Cilber (5+) route as there are some serious run outs on the easier pitches, but especially for the Toix Ridge (II), which is completely unbolted. I mostly used my DMM Dragon Cam 2 sizes 1 and 2 (Black Diamond C4 size 0.5 and 0.75), but further up on the Toix Ridge (II) the bigger ones like size 4 and 5 becomes (Black Diamond C4 size 2 and 3) handy. I brought a set of nuts, but didn’t apply them. There are also lots of places where you can place slings around rather sharp rocks on the Toix Ridge (II), so bring a couple of 120 cm dyneema slings to serve as protection.
So besides your abseil kit and breaking device I would bring:
- 1 x 60 meter single rope or 2x 60 meter half ropes
- 1 x 120 cm or 1 x 240 sling for anchor building
- 4 x screw gate carabiners
- 8 x quick draws (some of these extendable alpine quick draws)
- 2 x 120 slings
- 5 x small sized cams
Final thoughts on the Toix Ridge via Cilber
The Toix Ridge via Cilber (II, 5+) is a great half day outing with lots of adventure. It features some really nice and sometimes technical climbing, while most of the route is rather easy. This means that it is an excellent introductory climb – both for multi-pitch climbing and for general scrambling and moving together roped up. It has a super short approach and pretty short descent as well.