Category Archives: Climbing

Rio Seco – Steep and savage…

After a gap of about two years I returned to Rio Seco for a session with Arturo and Adri. And although conditions were against us (it was still about 25 degrees when I arrived) I was still surprised by how fierce the routes were. Never a spot for beginners I was still taken a bit aback by the steepness, especially in the central part of Diamante where I’d never climbed.

Adrian Gonzalez on La de Sergio 7a/+

Adrian Gonzalez on La de Sergio 7a/+

Sector Diamante is perhaps the hardest of the sectors at Rio Seco and takes no prisoners – especially in the heat. I started on a route I’d done a few times as a warm up Nozalina, 7a, and promptly rested three times and came down running with sweat…it was worse than I’d thought!!

Fortunately Adri had left the clips in the next one, the ‘much steeper than it looked’ La de Sergio, 7a/+. This took a very steep but mercifully short tufa line up to a chain which allowed you to warm up without the obviously brutal move that the extension of the route took at an undergraded 7c+…

On the finish of  La de Sergio 7a/+

On the finish of La de Sergio 7a/+

Adri and Arturo then introduced me the next level on the very bouldery, Viciosilla, 8a. One very hard move leads to a difficult slab and between them, the moves, with tiny crimps, proved impossible in the heat.

Arturo on Viciosilla, 8a, Sector Diamante

Arturo on Viciosilla, 8a, Sector Diamante

Importantly I also met up with I also met up with David Acido who has taken on the task of cleaning up and re-equipping the almost forgotten crag of El Condado. Close to Pola de Laviana this was an important proving ground in the late 90’s but due to the road being moved it has made it a less accessible and almost forgotten spot.

David has taken on the task of cleaning and re-equipping and so with money from the Roca Verde bolt fund I provided him with a load of stainless steel bolts and some belays too. I said I’d also help him Hopefully we will also produce new topos for the area and re-vitalise this one popular spot.

David with the material provided by the Roca Verde bolt fund.

David with the material provided by the Roca Verde bolt fund.

 

 

Gijón Climbing World Championship – Ondra Triumphs

Once again the best men and women won, such is the nature of competitions but there was much more to it at a tense, exciting and inspirational climbing IFSC World Championship held in Gijón in northern Spain last weekend. And although a partisan crowd on Sunday didn´t see their favourite, the diminutive powerhouse Ramonet, win, an equally vociferous (though smaller crowd) on Saturday did see their new hero, Urko Carmona, crowned world champion in his para-climbing class as the last act of a long and inspiring day.  

Urko Carmona on his way to a win. Ph Richie Patterson

Urko Carmona on his way to a win. Ph Richie Patterson

The World Championships which were in Asturias in northern Spain for the 2nd time featured Speed Climbing, Para-Climbing and Lead Climbing were well attended throughout. And although some felt there was a slight lack of competitors in the main categories due to scheduling between boulder comps there was strong field and the finals had most of the big names.

Interestingly, the Speed climbing, though it was the first time it had been in Spain was over with early on with the Para Climbing taking pride of place on the weekend. Speed climbing was on Friday and this was the first time any Speed Climbing had been seen in Spain meaning that mouths hung open as the crowd realised what speed in climbing actually meant. The world record, recently broken, fell again in the men´s final as the Ukranian, Danylo Boldyrev, overcame the Russian challenge (things to come?) to take 1st. The womens’ went to form with the strong Russian Alina Gaidamakina beating two Poles and keeping it pretty much an eastern Bloc muscle –fest!

See the speed here http://bit.ly/WorldCup_Speed

The GB Para Team

The GB Para Team

So Saturday instead was Para-Climbing and the British team did superbly. A big team went and managed to claim  6 top three placings – a testament not only to their dedication but to the work put in by the BMC in making sure their cause is pushed so that para-climbing gets the same status and ‘game-time’ as the able bodied version.

In many ways the para day proved the highlight of the competition especially because the large mainly Spanish crowd got the see their man win. A long and tiring day in hot conditions took it out of the climbers but the reaction and size of the crowd made it an event to remember for most and there were several stand-out performances that really raised the bar (and roof).  Fran Brown cemented her place at the top table with a very close win, adding a world masters to her current world champion status on the last hold; Koichiro Kobayashi the Japanese climbing brilliantly in the B1 category (visually impaired); and Urko sealing an emotional day with his top out in the amputee class.

Urko’s win provided the proof that Para Climbing can sit of the same stage and be equally thrilling as any other category. Hearing the crowd chanting Urko’s name signalled that they were 100% in accord with the competition and not in a way that suggested platitudes: this was a climbing comp and they wanted to be part of his win!!

This was a very well-attended event, with para-climbers from as far afield as Iran, Japan and the USA, being exciting and inspirational in equal measure. In the end the full British team results were: Alex & Phil 6th & Adam 7th,  Dave 4th , Fran 1st , Sianagh 3rd, Nick 2nd , John 3rd , Esme 3rd  & Reanne 2nd. A brilliant set of results and Wild Country is very proud to have been able to support this talented bunch.

You can relive the finals here: http://bit.ly/WorldCup_ParaClimb

Finally came the lead comp and a big crowd braved an enormous thunderstorm to pack the pavilion. The women’s competition seemed close at first as height was gained incrementally, climber by climber, but no-one seemed to have the key to the 8b climb. But then out strode Jain Kim, the final competitor,  and with a precision, fluidity and strength unseen so far she simply blew everyone else out of the water; topping out in a style that had everyone in the crowd on their feet.

Jain Kim takes the title

 

Jain Kim takes the title

Jain Kim takes the title

In the Men’s final it seemed as though everyone was waiting for the stars and although the competition was fierce it wasn’t until the last two appeared that things really hotted up. A partisan crowd were obviously all for Ramonet but this didn’t mean they were exactly anti-Ondra and his smooth ascent past Scahi Ammi’s high-point to latch-and-leap from the penultimate hold brought cheers from the crowd. Cheers which then turned to roars as Ramonet stepped up.  His contrasting ‘locky’ style seemed initially at odds with the route yet as he edged higher the unbelievable athleticism of the tiny figure became obvious and, making it look easier than anyone, he looked destined for the triumph the event fervently wished for.

Ondra takes the penultimate hold…

 

Ondra takes the penultimate hold...

Ondra takes the penultimate hold…

Yet at the same high point as Ondra his trajectory changed, and unlike the formers leap to claim his ‘plus’ the Spaniard found himself on the end of the rope without having persuaded the judges he had the same control as Ondra, leaving an emotional Adam as double world champion!

http://bit.ly/WorldCupMen_Women

Overall this was a solid rather spectacular World Championship with a smaller field in the main event due to scheduling. However, Urko’s triumph will be remembered by everyone who was there and para-climbing getting the Saturday spot and almost equal billing proved to be a great idea.

The highlight for me, however wasn’t the climbing, but what the climbing did. It was brilliant listening and talking to climbers who were exiting the para event, quite obviously inspired, and hearing them discuss training and how they could try to utilise the skills of para climbers to learn to climb better (training with one arm, one leg, blindfolded) rather than mouthing platitudes of sympathy or a ‘oh didn´t they do well’ attitude.

Climbers inspiring climbers – the true meaning of a World Championship!

 

Quiros – Sector Eclipse new, old and ignored…#1

There are some places I just love to climb and Sector Eclipse at Quiros is one of them. Now I don’t understand why but this is a sector ignored by most and I have  never seen anyone there. However, for me it has a great mix of routes, there’s a decent spread of grades and possibly the best 6c+ in Asturias. (Controversial!!!)

Oh, and one more thing I should mention, it also gets into the shade at around 1.30, a blessing for a keen climber in the summer months. Returning there after a break was a treat for me for a number of reasons; firstly I completed my project, secondly I warmed up on a route which felt pumpy as hell on the last visit and finally I had the same feeling repeating a route as the first time – which is rare.

Amanita, 6c+, a really good route with a bit of everything...and OK at the grade!

Amanita, 6c+, a really good route with a bit of everything…and OK at the grade!

First visit, with the ever patient Den (who seems to get stuck with me in project mode) I warmed up on Amanita 6c+, a really good (and long) route which takes a burly crack for fully 35 metres. Certainly easier the second time there’s big moves, finger jams and intricate slabs and was happy that I felt solid all the way. Reason being I’d returned to finish a route I’d bolted about two years ago.

Called Chorrera Negra I’d tentatively graded it 7a and put it in the guide even though I’d not had time to complete it. I’d had the time after bolting to top rope it and although very tired had just about done it in one go. So feeling good I thought I’d just whip up it quickly and get it ticked.

Pumped in mind body and legs with a long wa y to go!!

Pumped in mind body and legs with a long wa y to go!!

However, I hadn’t counted on the fact that A. I hadn’t cleaned it brilliantly and the intervening 1.5 years would leave it worse. And B. it was pretty badly bolted with spaced bolts meaning you had to do hard moves above them and C. it was bloody hard!!!

Starting up an existing route, El loco de la colina, it zips straight up the wall above the start via a series of pockets, flakes and some very small and indistinct holds to join the belay of Luz de alba (another very good route).  Almost immediately after leaving the start of the first route I was stumped – I’d put the first bolt on my route high to avoid any conflict and instantly it was a nervous clip. Then again after clipping things didn’t get much better as teh crux seemed desperate, above the bolt and with a ‘gripper clipper’ for the next one.

Up, down, up down, I got pumped and more pumped. – feet on nothing much, dirty hand holds and fear keeping me down. Finally I committed and managed to push on – brutal – but a decent crimp got me clipped and a carried on. Phew, crux done! I didn’t remember anything else hard until the last few feet so felt a bit happier. But, I was once again subject to memory failings as almost isntantly the territory became thin, precarious and very, very unobvious. Sketch by sketch I advanced and slowly but surely i was going to be mine. By the end I was totally pumped with cramping feet and it was will power nothing more (and the threat of having to come back) which got me up it.

Very relieved I snagged the belay and lowered off pleased as punch but damn tired.  I was very proud of my route and my determined effort, whilst acknowledging it’s failings and vowing to come back and clean and add a bolt or two to my ordeal.

On the very thin crux of Chorerra Negra now a healthy 7a+

On the very thin crux of Chorerra Negra now a healthy 7a+

So overall, maybe my first new route on the Queen of Asturian crags isn’t the greatest but it’s intricate and fun (in an old school way). I upgraded Chorrera Negra to 7a+, I am going back soon to ‘sort it out’.

Guest Blog – Mike Owen on his visit to Asturias….

Mike Owen visited recently and here are his thoughts on the area and in particular a couple of the steeper crags (being a big tufa fan) Poo and Rumenes:

“The main objective (of our Spanish trip) was to visit Cantabria and Asturias in northern Spain as a result of buying Richie Patterson’s excellent new guide “Roca Verde”.

However, with a poor forecast we started in the east of Spain and the  first destination was a fairly new cliff called Culla about an hour north of Valencia. Thanks to Dave and Rhian Cross for the excellent info. However it was very tough on the Scali (van) getting down the 2.5km track to a perfect doss spot overlooking the crag. The crag was in the shade with plenty of wind, we had the place to ourselves and the routes were on fantastic colonettes.

It was finally time to drive on to Asturias at last. Driving along the autopista the scenery reminded us of North Wales. The mountains rise very steeply just a couple of km inland from the Atlantic in much the same way that the Carneddau rise above the villages of Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan. There was another similarity in that they were very often hidden by dark clouds and rain!

From the topo we sussed out the places that would keep us entertained: Poo de Cabrales and Rumenes. Both crags have plenty of colos (tufas) and enough shade for summer cragging. The lower sector at Poo has great short routes from 6b+ to 7a which are super warm ups. The upper “Chorreras” crag is great for onsighting from 7a to 7b+ (the harder routes are not as good). The best routes we did were Mociviellos (6b+), Cencerrada (7a), Alanvista (7a+), Entremedusas (7b) and Kalima (7b+). Richie says that the 7c+ at El Corralito is very good and the 8a+ looks brilliant (though has probably only had one ascent apparently).

Dave and Rhian Cross on the 7a+ part of El dia del arquero at Rumenes

Ahhhh, Rumenes. What wonderful climbs there are to do there, long colonettes and not too steep. The canyon is so impressive and there is so much rock everywhere. It is an equippers paradise, if you’re prepared to walk some. There will be a lot of development in the coming years. DON’T FORGET TO BUY THE TOPO BECAUSE RICHIE IS DONATING 20% FOR EQUIPPING. PLEASE DON’T PHOTOCOPY.

Sindrome de Stendhal, 50m of tufa heaven makes a great 8a (photo by Richie Patterson)
Jan from Czech Republic on the brilliant Rumenes power y al vino, 7a+

 

 

Asia from Poland flashing the excellent Cinderella Man, 7c

 

All the climbs at sector Chorreras are well worth doing, especially Rumenes power y al vino (one of the best 7a+’s anywhere) and the 50m 8a classic Sindrome de Stendhal. There are plenty of places to park up in the camper van in peace. On rest days the food and beer is very cheap in the climbers bar in La Hermida (Posada la Cuadrona) and there is a hot spring under the bridge.

We didn’t get to Teverga which is the other must go to destination, though much more sunnier. That’ll be at the top of the list for next time. The region is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, the climbing is fantastic and the topo is amazing and so inspiring. I can’t wait to go back.”

Rumenes – the best tufas in Roca Verde??

An amazing venue and the best ‘tufa’ climbing in Asturias. The walls and routes at Rumenes are simply phenomenal and amply demonstrate the potential in this valley. The upper crag for the most part is literally tufa-strewn and provides a series of long, stamina testpieces.

Rumenes is probably  the most popular area in the Desfiladero – especially now there’s a good guide – and it was interesting to see people there from across Europe. Chatting to an Austrian team they were very impressed with the area (and the guide)…!

Austrian visitor becomes part of the spectacular scenery of Rumenes on Satanismo en el Alpinismo 7a+

Austrian visitor becomes part of the spectacular scenery of Rumenes on Satanismo en el Alpinismo 7a+

Shade arrives at Rumenes about 2pm but we arrived late at around  5pm after a long day at chilling out and bathing at the enormous beach of San Vicente about 30 minutes away (good tip). Already at the crag were a bunch of friends of ours – all ex-pats, some living in France some in Spain. The stamina legend that is Mike Owen was working the incredible stamina pitch of Síndrome de Stendhal, a super long 7c+ while his wife Elaine patiently nursed a very sore finger and belayed.

Mike Owen Sindrome de Stendhal 7c+

Mike Owen Sindrome de Stendhal 7c+

As we chatted to the Brits a French couple arrived and we realised it was a couple we’d seen at Teverga a few days before. They were enjoying their visit to Asturias and set about sending a few classics: Rumenes power al vino, 7a+, and Invocando de Onan, 7a one of the most ‘tufariest’ routes at this very ‘tufary’ crag!!

As I watched and snapped away I realised how burned I had got at the beach and my keeness to climbed waned…however, watching Marek Cincio from Poland absolutely fight his way up the 38 metre pitch of El día del arquero, 7c,  got me inspired. A brilliant effort he nearly fell several times before topping out on one of the best pitches there…

El dia del arquero, 7c. 38 metres of pure pump!!

Marek Cincio on El dia del arquero, 7c. 38 metres of pure pump!!

Our day eventually started about 6.30 and I warmed up on my favourite, La Tufa, 6b a great little route. However, after a bright start things went rapidly downhill as Mary started to feel a bit ‘sunstrokey’ and my pink flesh was feeling the pinch squeezed into my harness. An abortive attempt on a couple of routes failed and we slunk off down to La Cuadrona bar (another top tip) to be refreshed and revived by Chucho!!

All’s well that ends well and we ended the night chatting away to friends we hadn’t seen for a while and vowing next time to use a bit more sunblock!!

 

The Acid Test

The weekend saw us hook up with an American family who, having bought the guide, had changed this year’s holiday plans and come to Roca Verde country for a month-long climbing trip. We couldn’t help but feel the pressure. What would they think of the book? Were they managing to find their way round okay? And, most importantly of all, were they having a good holiday?

IMG_3481 Krista

With climbs like this to go at, who wouldn’t enjoy a month-long trip to Roca Verde country? Krista on Piden Trabayu, 7a, at Bóvedas, Teverga

To add to the pressure the weather forecast was looking somewhat dodgy for Saturday so we decided to head to Bóvedas in Teverga, a great sector that has the added bonus of staying dry in the rain. We needn’t have worried, as despite a short sharp shower in the morning the rock dried instantly and conditions turned out to be pretty good.

Bóvedas was still a winning choice though, with some awesome 6s and 7as to keep Krista and Tim happy, with really interesting and varied climbing packing in everything from some delicate, fingery slab moves to tufa-pulling thuggery.

For the kids there was plenty of dirt to play in, which is always guaranteed to bring a smile.

IMG_3442-Me-V2As for us, we were just happy to hear that the Maloneys had been having a great trip climbing throughout Cantabria and Asturias and that they hadn’t got lost once. Especially after their confession that they normally allow an extra hour on top of any journey time, to compensate for the inevitablity of time spent going round in circles.

Of course the other joyous thing about Bóvedas is that in between goes you can sit and will your arms to recover whilst watching the wads across the way on Pared Negra. All the inspiration you could want to try and pull that little bit harder.

 

Nani, 7c Pared Negra

Nani, 7c Pared Negra. One for the tick list…..

 

An Afternoon in La Hermida and Potes

In the end we only had a couple of hours free, in between delivering books to shops. We wondered if we’d get the chance to climb at all but that’s one of the many great beauties of the La Hermida gorge – the proliferation of roadside crags.  A shorter walk-in = more time to climb.  And you couldn’t get a shorter walk-in than the one to Puente Lebeña. In less than a minute from the road you can be tieing in. And we were.

Mary on Tecno Viking, 6b Puente Lebeña

Mary on Tecno Viking, 6b Puente Lebeña

Even the book delivering itself turned out to be pretty fun in the end. We discovered a couple more cool climbers’ bars in Potes that are definitely worth checking out if you visit. Set in the beautiful medieval heart of the town both La Sidrería and La Reunión offer something a little bit different to the standard local fare.

The pinchos and smoothies at La Sidrería are simply superb

The pinchos and smoothies at La Sidrería are simply superb. A great bet if you´re a vegetarian.

 

You can sip an excellent craft beer at La Reunión while checking out their wealth of topos and information.

You can sip an excellent craft beer at La Reunión while checking out their wealth of topos and information.

Of course no trip to the La Hermida gorge would be complete without a visit to the hot springs. On the outskirts of the village, underneath the bridge that leads to the Balneario Spa Hotel is this glorious free-access hot spot (literally.) A balm for tired climbing muscles and the perfect way to end the day.

Chilling in the hot springs

Chilling in the hot springs

Retomando Cuerda en Quirós

Ultimamente hemos tenido muy poca oportunidad de escalar…..(igual ya sabéis que andabamos bastante ocupados con lo de publicar una guía?!! ;-) ) Ya era hora de retomar cuerda y no hay mejor sitio para hacerlo que en Quirós.

What a view to wake up to...another beautiful July day in Asturias..

What a view to wake up to…another beautiful July day in Asturias..

Despertarse y ver un día así de guapo, claro que mete ganas de salir al monte. Así que ayer subimos al Escalón para calentar en unas de las vías faciles en las placas.

Great warm ups on the slabs with the steeper pitches of Depiedradores (the groove) and Corner (the arete) obvious above...

Great warm ups on the slabs with the steeper pitches of Depiedradores (the groove) and Corner (the arete) obvious above…

Que gusto tomar el sol ahí y recordarse como es escalar…. Incluso el más pequeño de nuestro equipo se animó a escalar un poco…..

Jack gets going...

Jack gets going…

Luego probamos un par de las vías arriba de las placas, más cortas pero bastante más desplomadas. Después de unos meses de no hacer nada como cuestan!!! Pero como molan también…. 

Así que, agotados pero muuuy contentos, bajamos al Refugio del Llano para reponer fuerzas con buena comida y refrescos fríos…… Como nos encanta Quirós!!

 

Quirós – simply perfect for getting into the groove again..

Once again the queen of Asturian climbing doesn’ t disappoint, from the fantastic location – we woke up in Aciera to the view below – to the great weather and as always great routes.

What a view to wake up to...another beautiful July day in Asturias..

What a view to wake up to…another beautiful July day in Asturias..

We have a had  a few months off climbing so we decided to hit Escalón (one of the most popular sectors at Quiros) with a great mix of slabs to warm up on and short testpieces to get the juices flowing. Mary started on one of the easy classics, ‘La Placa Fina’ V, a good call because as the sun rapidly rose and the temperatures as well it seemed that we may not get anything too difficult done…

Great warm ups on the slabs with the steeper pitches obvious above...

Great warm ups on the slabs with the steeper pitches of  obvious above…

However, luckily there was a bit of a breeze and instead of retiring to the pool at Proaza we carried on. I thought it was my turn, and was just getting psyched for Depiedradores 6c+ when Jack, our 4 yr son, decided to get into the act and after a go on the rope decided that a bit of soloing was for him.

Jack gets going...

Jack gets going…

Finally, I managed to get my turn and after a not too convincing warm up on the V sent the fingery and Depiedradores with only a  moderate amount of finger pain!!!
Undeterred Mary went up on a rope and as the breeze died off and the temperatures climbed quicker than we were I willed her to send it quick. She duly despatched it with only a couple of hiccups and I decided that as we were there I’d try and do Corner, 7a, again. By this time it was truly hot and both our son and faithful hound were sheltering beneath whatever shade they could find.

Moving quickly I matched the last hold before taking flight having crossed hands…!! Drat…

Still it was hard to moan as the day was so gorgeous and so pretty happy for first day back we descended to the Refugio below just as others arrived (refugio El Llano) and Jose fed and watered us!!

Unknown climber on the super classic slab of Place Torres 6c, Escalon...

Unknown climber on the super classic slab of Place Torres 6c, Escalon…