Category Archives: Climbing

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…