So, Becoming bored of France and desiring more mountain in my life, we decided to pop on the highway and drove on. Spain just exploded into coastal mountains, sweeping highways bringing us in and out of coves and bays and ultimately beer that seems to taste better. Aiming vaguely for a national park called Picos De Europa we found it had a peak treasured by Spanish Mountaineers, Pico Uriellu or Naranjo de Bulnes (Orange of Bulnes).
Its sounds uninteresting but let me tell you more- The peak is 8,264ft from sea level, which is close by. To get to the peak you need to carry your climbing gear up through the 6,500ft of Spanish summer which lands you at the base of something special. It isn’t the biggest peak in the area, but with a 1739ft headwall it’s a head turner. There are no footpaths up this one.
I should say at the beach below we met a nice guy called Henning who was passionate about getting out climbing and wanted to join us, and naturally, having some spare camping gear, we were more than happy to oblige. We started the hike in the middle of the afternoon because we like to suffer and it seemed a good idea. 1000ft below basecamp Karli threw up all the food and water she had eaten on the way in and the paced slowed. It can’t have been pleasant but seeing the end was near, she carried on. Arriving in the evening outside the mountain hut we loosely pitched the tent and settled down to a terrible dinner of packet pasta and nuts. It’s up there among the least appealing meals, bland, bad tasting, the kind of food you might not feed your dog but for some reason choose to eat on your holiday. Sitting below the intimidating face was pretty cool as it turned red in the setting sun. We had reservations about coming to climb it on a weekend and the queues that might form due to its popularity, but all would be well.
The secret and ease to the climb for us was, if we went around the back and scrambled 500ft up to the South Face, it would be much shorter. Our route was called Directa de los Martinez, Named after the man who climbed the peak Solo in 1904 and consisting of 490ft of easy climbing peaking at 5.7 on the Yosemite Decimal system (US climbing grade), followed by 400ft of exposed steep scrambling to the summit. There were a couple of climbers on route already which was nice as we had no guide book, just a phone picture of a page taken in a coffee shop way down below. It’s my first time climbing trad on limestone, hence the picking of an easy route, and it didn’t disappoint. Short but so much fun. The sun came around half way up and reaching the last bolted anchor , we put the ropes in the bag and scrambled up to the top; hitting the ridge at lunchtime, the ground dropped vertically 1000ft from where we had just come, and straight down 1700 the other way. With other climbing teams on the peak, the descent using the rappel stations was slow but allowed us to take in the views a little more. Arriving back down to our packs dehydrated after not really drinking any water and with it being 2pm and again hot, we began the slow descent down to the car on a long winding path.
I have to admit something, after spending time in the states and central, I have started liking the America climbing grading better than the UK grading system. It just seems easier, less wording, almost digital compared to analogue. We are now doing some sports climbing in Valles Del Trubia. Thats all for now