Tag Archives: desfiladero de La Hermida

La Hermida climbing guide review by Mike Owen

It’s out! The guidebook to Spain’s best-kept secret and one of the best summer climbing venues in Europe. Had enough of going to the usual places and you fancy a change? Fed up of the crowds, the heat and the polished routes? Look no further, the crags in this book have got everything you’re looking for.

El Desfiladero de la Hermida covers the climbing centred around the village of La Hermida, which is located in the gorge called El Desfiladero de la Hermida that runs north/south through the eastern end of the picturesque Picos de Europa, from Panes to Potes, on the border between Cantabria and Asturias.

El valle de La Hermida - The La hermida valley...

El valle de La Hermida – The La hermida valley…

This is a really beautiful part of Spain; known as “green Spain” due to the abundance of vegetation as a result of the maritime climate, the scenery is simply stunning. The topography is classic karst limestone. The gorge has very steep sides that are riddled with rocky gullies that lead up to high craggy peaks with breath taking views. There are crags everywhere and the potential for more development is obvious. It gets even better; the summer temperatures are typically in the mid-twenties, which make such a pleasant change compared to many parts in Europe. In fact a normal season here extends from late spring (as the tufas dry out) until early winter, when the first of the rain which keeps the valleys so green arrives. Though the addition of many quick-drying, walls and slabs outside the main valley means that there should be something to get on all year round.

The upper crag has so many great wall climbs, this time it's Orujo de Liébana, 7c

The upper crag has so many great wall climbs, this time it’s Orujo de Liébana, 7c

There is plenty to do on rest days; just a 30 minute drive away is the coast with the possibility of surfing the Atlantic swell. Alternatively, there are numerous paths that can take you up into the heart of the Picos de Europa or you can take the cable car up to the most famous mountain in the area, the Naranjo de Bulnes. If all of the above activities sound too strenuous, you may just prefer to go and relax at the climbers bar in La Hermida (La Cuadrono) and sample Chucho and Angela’s wonderful hospitality. However, if you’re staying in Potes, try the climbers bar (La Reunion) and sample some of their home made beers or enjoy a nice cheap coffee (don’t forget this is Spain, so prices are always very reasonable).

Tanya Meredith on the final slap of Karim Abdul Jabbar, 7b+,

Tanya Meredith on the final slap of Karim Abdul Jabbar, 7b+,

For years there have been rumours of great climbing in this part of Northern Spain but information was always scarce. Then three years ago Richie Patterson published the excellent Roca Verde, a selective topo covering some of the crags in Cantabria, Asturias and Leon. As a result the area started to receive more attention, justifiably so. Due to this new found popularity Richie, in collaboration with the local Cantabrian climbers, has put this definitive guidebook together, specifically covering all of the new (or previously hidden) crags in the La Hermida valley, and what a guidebook it is.

The first thing you will notice when you flick through La Desfiladero de la Hermida is the attention to detail that has been put into the presentation and that it is written in Spanish and English. The introduction is concise, yet has all the necessary information you need, including a very clear general map, where to stay and what the topo symbols mean. There is an interesting section on ‘Geography and Wildlife’ as well as a very important section on ‘Access and Etiquette’.

Mike Owen in action at Rumenes...

Mike Owen in action at Rumenes…

Each crag has its own introduction, including the style of climbing, orientation regarding the sun, walk in times and access map with GPS coordinates. The topos are very accurately drawn on clear colour photos and printed on top quality paper. All pitch lengths are given. However there are no stars. The authors don’t want climbers to be drawn towards particular routes, with the result that they become polished and end up with queues during busy periods, they want you to find out for yourself and have fun doing so. The action photos are some of the best I have seen in a climbing guide and really do give you that all important first impression; in other words they fire you up, your fingers start to sweat and you start mentally planning how to get there as soon as possible.

The valley is already quite well known for its amazing tufas at steep crags such as Rumenes and El Infierno. However, this is not just an area that suits climbers operating in the big numbers because what is not so well known, is the fact that there are also many crags that offer really enjoyable climbing at a more reasonable standard in equally impressive surroundings. In fact much of the new guide is taken up with crags with amenable grades that should allow mixed parties to enjoy the valley more; making a morning cranking on tufas followed by an afternoon on the slabs (or vice versa) a practical option!

The guide includes a total of 32 crags, of which 24 are published for the first time, including the jaw-dropping Cueva Carcalosa (which will soon become internationally important for those seeking long steep voyages in tufa paradise) and the long established, but nonetheless previously secret, Cicera (with its wealth of demanding crimpy climbing in the summer shade).  La Desfiladero de la Hermida is in A5 format, has 176 pages and almost 700 routes to choose from III+ to 8c+ and offers great value at £20. Please bear in mind that it is the only definitive guide and purchasing it will help contribute towards future equipping in the area. After you’ve been climbing, don’t forget to have a beer at La Cuadrona, followed by a swim in the hot springs up the road.

My advice: skip Ceuse this summer, buy this topo, book your ferry. Job done!

El Desfiladero de La Hermida is published by Roca Verde and available direct from www.rocaverdeclimbing.com

Gema Lanza,  7a, El Salmón

Gema Lanza, 7a, El Salmón

La Hermida guide in stores across northern Spain…

After a hectic week of deliveries – then re-deliveries after the books sold out – our new guidebook is available in a ton of shops and bars across the region. And as the first batch sold out so quickly so we’ve done a second visit and loaded the stores with copies.

A quick list of the stores with books in the La Hermida region is:
Santander – Eiger Sport
Torrelavega – K2 Aventura
La Hermida – La Cuadrona /  Andaras
Potes – Tienda Indiana / Bar La Reunion / Libreria Vela / Bustamante de Potes
Arenas de Cabrales – La Tienda Nueva / Cendon
Cangas de Onis – Tuñon – Libreria Imagen

Then further west – around Oviedo and the Valles de Trubia:
Gijón – Indoor Wall
Aviles – Gravity Climbing
Oviedo – D-Ruta / Oxigeno
Valles de Trubia – Bar Sobia, Entrago / Bar Aladino, San Martin / Club de Montana Aguja de Sobia, Entrago.

Or you can buy the book direct from our pages…

http://bit.ly/BuyLaHermida

La guiá contiene un montón de fotos nuevas muy chulas de la escalada del valle...The guidebook cover features two of the most prominent climbers of the area...

La guiá contiene un montón de fotos nuevas muy chulas de la escalada del valle…The guidebook cover features two of the most prominent climbers of the area…

 

 

Vistas impresionantes, con Carcalosa detras... Alex López,
Ritmo caribeño,
F: José Alberto Puente Great view of the angle of the crag: and you can see Carcalosa behind

Cicera – Crags of La Hermida #1

A world-class venue, and possibly the crag that everyone´s been waiting for more than any other, Cicera has a selection of brilliant climbs on perfect rock. Sitting opposite, and complementing almost perfectly the ludicrous tufas of Carcalosa, the main sector is only slightly overhanging making for technical and very pumpy wall climbing.

Carlos Cué, Plataforma, 7c, Cicera, una vía muy técnica de placa desplomada.

Carlos Cué, Plataforma, 7c, Cicera, una vía muy técnica de placa desplomada.

It’s a mix of grey and orange rock with good friction and mainly long or very long routes. For those climbing in the high 7s and 8s there’s an endless supply of testpieces and, unlike much of the valley, it’s a venue where finger strength and climbing ability take precedence over big arms!

Vistas impresionantes, con Carcalosa detras... Alex López, Ritmo caribeño, F: José Alberto Puente Great view of the angle of the crag: and you can see Carcalosa behind

Vistas impresionantes, con Carcalosa detras… Alex López,
Ritmo caribeño, F: José Alberto Puente Great view of the angle of the crag: and you can see Carcalosa behind

In addition, the lower crag provides more entertainment in it’s own style with grey almost ‘Verdon-like’ fingery slabs and some tough, shorter roofs.

Carlos Cué, Mar Negro, 7b+, Sector Abajo, Cicera. Placa técnica de fuerza de dedos...One of the brilliant wall climbs on the lower crag...

Carlos Cué, Mar Negro, 7b+, Sector Abajo, Cicera. Placa técnica de fuerza de dedos…One of the brilliant wall climbs on the lower crag…

The familiar theme is the lack of easier climbs but with such high-quality routes it’s easy to forgive.

Routes Summary
V+ – 6c+ = 4
7a – 7c+ = 28
8a – 8c+ = 23

Another view of the lower crag, this time a super cool 7a, Corbatas de Unquera.

Another view of the lower crag, this time a super cool 7a, Corbatas de Unquera.

Children: Fine for older children but quite a long walk in and steep underneath.

Season: Usefully, the upper crag is almost never in the sun so it’s great through the summer and can also get a good breeze in late afternoon. The lack of sun does mean it can be cold in late autumn and spring and once wet it does seep a bit and can take a while to dry – though there are plenty of routes which stay dry all year. Overall it’s a very reliable venue for good conditions.

The upper crag has so many great wall climbs, this time it's Orujo de Liébana, 7c

The upper crag has so many great wall climbs, this time it’s Orujo de Liébana, 7c

 

Desde el inerior de la cueva...Alberto Hontavilla explorando el muro. The view from the inside. F. Reini Wallmann

Carcalosa – Resumenes de las escuelas de La Hermida #2

Un lugar de primera categoría, con un sorprendente surtido de líneas increíbles en una enorme cueva y sus muros colindantes.

Crossing the river...Como llegar, el rio!!

Crossing the river…Como llegar, el rio!!

La pared de la derecha es más asequible, con algunos sextos, mientras que la de la izquierda es impresionante por su desplome y la selección de vías muy duras; en ambos casos, la mayoría discurren sobre chorreras y son bastante largas. El acceso es muy empinado, pero vale la pena para quienes quieran disfrutar escalando vías excepcionales a partir del séptimo grado.

Caroline Ciavaldini en los ultimos pasos de Geyperman, 7c+. The last part of the 35m Geyperman on the right wall...

Caroline Ciavaldini en los ultimos pasos de Geyperman, 7c+. The last part of the 35m Geyperman on the right wall…

La roca en el interior de la cueva es blanca, con poca adherencia, pero la pared de la derecha es calcáreo gris y naranja, muy adherente. Puede decirse que ofrece la más impresionante concentración de chorreras del valle, con muchas posibilidades de apertura todavía.

Desde el inerior de la cueva...Alberto Hontavilla explorando el muro. The view from the inside. F. Reini Wallmann

Desde el inerior de la cueva…Alberto Hontavilla explorando el muro. The view from the inside. F. Reini Wallmann

En invierno el río puede ir demasiado crecido para cruzarlo, lo cual impide el acceso. Bien equipado con parabolts y reuniones.

Resumen de las vias:
V+ – 6c+ = 4
7a – 7c+ = 18
8a – 8c+ = 18

Niños: El acceso no es muy adecuado para niños, con muchas cuerdas fijas sobre roca muy empinada.

La vista desde Cicera...The view of the cave from Cicera...

La vista desde Cicera…The view of the cave from Cicera…

Época: Por su orientación sureste se puede escalar todo el año, con sombra a partir de las 14:00 en la pared de la derecha y mucho antes en la cueva. El problema es que las chorreras filtran en invierno y primavera.

Es mejor desde finales de primavera a principios de invierno. En verano puede correr un poco de aire por la tarde. En invierno y en primavera, si llueve mucho, el río a menudo va demasiado crecido para cruzarlo; ante la duda, mejor no intentarlo.

Carlos Cué, Plataforma, 7c, Cicera, una vía muy técnica de placa desplomada.

Cicera – Resumenes de las escuelas de La Hermida #1

Desde hace 20 años la pared del río Cicera es uno de los principales escenarios de la escalada deportiva en Cantabria y  la escuela es una de las joyas de la guía nueva (http://bit.ly/ComprarLaHermida).

Un jovencito Carlos Cué, en una vía clásica de Cicera, Mirada felina, 8a. F. Reini Wallmann

Un jovencito Carlos Cué, en una vía clásica de Cicera, Mirada felina, 8a. F. Reini Wallmann

Es un lugar de primera categoría, con una selección de vías fantásticas con roca perfecta. Justo enfrente de Carcalosa, es el complemento casi perfecto de sus chorreras, con un sector principal que desploma ligeramente con vías técnicas, de continuidad y muy largas en su mayoría.

Carlos Cué, Plataforma, 7c, Cicera, una vía muy técnica de placa desplomada.

Carlos Cué, Plataforma, 7c, Cicera, una vía muy técnica de placa desplomada.

La roca gris y naranja ofrece buena adherencia. Hay muchas vías entre el séptimo y octavo grado aunque, a diferencia de lo que predomina en el valle, exigen fuerza de dedos y buena técnica, más que brazos musculosos.

Vistas impresionantes, con Carcalosa detras... Alex López, Ritmo caribeño, F: José Alberto Puente

Vistas impresionantes, con Carcalosa detras… Alex López,
Ritmo caribeño,
F: José Alberto Puente

El sector de abajo ofrece además vías con estilo propio, en una roca gris que recuerda a Verdon, con placas de presa pequeña y algunos techos cortos y duros.

Carlos Cué, Mar Negro, 7b+, Sector Abajo, Cicera. Placa técnica de fuerza de dedos...

Carlos Cué, Mar Negro, 7b+, Sector Abajo, Cicera. Placa técnica de fuerza de dedos…

Como es habitual, la pega es que hay pocas vías fáciles, pero la calidad de las vías es tan buena que se puede perdonar fácilmente esta carencia.

Más Información:

Época: Casi nunca le da el sol, lo cual es muy interesante, ya que se está muy bien en verano, e incluso corre aire a última hora de la tarde. Pero la falta de sol también significa que puede hacer frío a finales de otoño y en primavera; cuando se moja filtra un poco y tarda en secar, aunque hay muchas vías que están secas todo el año. En general, es un sector que garantiza buenas condiciones.

Niños: No esta perfecto pero para niños mayores tampoco es malo; aunque hay que caminar bastante y la base tiene terreno en cuesta.

http://bit.ly/ComprarLaHermida

 

 

Caroline Ciavaldini gets stuck into Dimensiones Paralelas, 7c+, Carcalosa

La Hermida – A quick guide to the best of ‘tufaland’…

In our new guide to La Hermida we reveal a bunch of great new spots and many of them have one thing in common…

Brilliant tufas.

So much so, that after her visit Caroline Ciavaldini christened the area ‘tufaland’…and it’s true that for the addict of this type of climbing there’s tons to go at.

So I thought it’d be a nice idea to rate the crags in terms of their overall ‘tufaness’ – the old and the new crags – to give a hit-list of venues.

1. Carcalosa – Just for the scale of the left wall Carcalosa has to be number one. An amazing crag and a ton of tufas to get stuck into – maybe the highlight being Dimensiones Paralela, 7c+, the super-obvious ‘train line’ tufas on the right wall.

Caroline Ciavaldini gets stuck into Dimensiones Paralelas, 7c+, Carcalosa

Caroline Ciavaldini gets stuck into Dimensiones Paralelas, 7c+, Carcalosa

2. Rumenes – Even with the emergence of other crags this is still some of the best tufa climbing around – and the first time the top wall is seen nearly everyone gasps; some in shock and some in delight!!

3. El Infierno – Like a supercharged Rumenes this is a wall simply covered in tufas. There’s possibly less ‘easy routes’, with the grades starting at 7a and above but this is a great venue and has shade in the afternoon…

Alberto Hontavilla. Balambambu, 7c, El Infierno

Alberto Hontavilla. Balambambu, 7c, El Infierno

4. Estraguena – All the routes apart from one take tufas at some point and strangely for a tufa crag none of the routes seem that steep.  The routes have a good length and the grades are good for the ego and for onsighting too…

5. Cueva Hermida – Very good new venue – and the only downsides are that there are very few easy routes and that there’s not a huge amount either. A steep wall turns into a roof and the climbing is powerful and pumpy.

Tanya Meredith on the final slap of Karim Abdul Jabbar, 7b+,

Tanya Meredith on the final slap of Karim Abdul Jabbar, 7b+,

6. Cueva Corazón – Classic hardcore tufa/roof venue. Lots of top level challenges here in a superb atmospheric spot.

7. Pechón – Sea-side climbing with a good smattering of tufas thrown in. What could be better?

8. El Salmón – Not totally a tufa crag but the central section of the main wall has some really good, short mid-grade tufas and on the bottom wall there’s some steep, exciting routes too.

Gema Lanza, El Salmón

Gema Lanza, El Salmón

9. Cicera – Maybe known more for the wall-climbing rather than the tufas this still has plenty of impressive lines. Atlantis, Pacifis, and Veneno azul are all great.

10. Parelosa – Not all tufas but what there are have plenty to offer – possibly the best being Relatividad, 7c+. The whole crag needs a bit of traffic but it will be a popular hardcore venue…

11. El Lado Oscuro – Only a few tufa routes but of very high-quality and both Museo Coconut, 7c, and Gretaline, 8a+, are stunning.

Reini Wallmann, Gretaline, 8a+, F. José Alberto Puente

Reini Wallmann, Gretaline, 8a+, F. José Alberto Puente

You can buy our new guide here… http://bit.ly/BuyLaHermida

And you can watch our video of James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini in action at Carcalosa here:  http://bit.ly/RocaVerdeRoadTrip_1

 

Roca Verde Edition 2 – more details…

The first edition of the guidebook to everybody’s new favorite Spanish climbing destination sold out in just 18 months and so Roca Verde gets a makeover. Totally revised and updated, this new version comes jam-packed with even more crags and routes across the regions of Asturias, Cantabria and Leon in north-west Spain.

La guia nueva de Roca Verde...the new Roca Verde guide...

La guia nueva de Roca Verde…the new Roca Verde guide…

Working with many of the most active groups and equippers from each area we have added 6 crags never before published, as well as new sectors at existing crags and a couple of classic crags missed from the first edition. Roca Verde now has over 50 crags with 239 sectors to go at; and with over 500 additional routes there’s a staggering total of nearly 3500 routes packed into this edition.

Every topo has been overhauled and updated with new colours for each grade of route: making an ‘at a glance’ assessment of each sector for your grade much easier. In addition there’s even more superb photos, from some of the regions’ best photographers, featuring some of the best routes and climbers in the area capturing the spirit of each crag. In this new edition there’s also an exclusive overview of the bouldering in Asturias; giving you directions and downloads of topos for some of the best spots.

Hay muchos búlders guapos probar en Asturias...there are actually a lot of great places to boulder in Asturias...

Hay bastante búlders buenas probar en Asturias….there are actually a lot of great places to boulder in Asturias…

Finally, (and maybe a first in climbing guidebooks), there are QR codes scattered throughout the book linking to videos of various routes and boulder problems across the regions. In this way you can get an even stronger flavour of the venues and get some ‘sweaty-palm’ psyche even before you arrive.

Gran miguelini

Escanear el QR a ver el video…scan the QR code to watch the video…

 

So with over 50 crags, 239 sectors and nearly 3500 routes; an overview of the bouldering; links to videos and over 200 full colour action photos this is the definitive guide to the Roca Verde region.

Roca Verde 2nd edition is available direct here at www.rocaverdeclimbing.com and all good climbing stores.

Getting Roca Verde 2nd Edition to the printers > having a baby…

After realising around last October that the original Roca Verde was going to sell out – in around 18 months only – I was obviously thrilled.

However, that also meant that I had to start again and so, after 6 more months of intense work here I am with the second edition on the presses in Aviles (in Asturias) as we speak.

The 'doctor' oversees the birth - it's a book...

The ‘doctor’ oversees the birth – it’s a book…

A manic weekend (as well as several manic days before that) led me to this position and the stress, sleeplessness and last minute panic somehow led me to the conclusion that producing a book is a bit like having a baby…

Now I am not saying that it’s equivalent but (and this is just what I have been told obviously) in so much as that women having their second one say they only do it as they have forgotten how bad it was first time.

And that’s the same with books.

You forget about the proofing, the endless fucking proofing: re-read = errors, re-read again = errors, then more errors until you even wonder if it’ll ever end. Then it goes to PDF proof from the printers, more errors; then your PC decides it can’t cope and won’t print…etc etc etc

And in the end you sit there say sod it and just push it out…LOL

Giving it the first once over...'it's a healthy 512 pages'

Giving it the first once over…’it’s a healthy 512 pages’

Anyway, despite all that the new version of Roca Verde is ready to go and I should have copies in store on the 2nd May.

Full details will be released at the end of the week save to say that it’s jam-packed with even more brilliant routes in this amazing region – and lots of stunning photos too!!

There are stunning new images like this across the book...

There are stunning new images like this across the book…

 

 

James onsighting Mana 8a as his warm up!!

James Pearson + Caroline Ciavaldini visit Roca Verde…Part 1

Wow…what a week…It’s great having visitors and showing off the place where you live – and have written a guidebook about!

But boy is it tiring…

James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini are friends of mine and were looking for a new place to visit for a recreational week of climbing after a busy month of work in England. So I decided to give them a whistle stop tour of the Roca Verde region.

IMG_9357-LoStarting in the east we stayed in La Hermida (at La Cuadrona, one of the best hotels around with ‘climber-friendly’ owners and lovely rooms) and visited some of the tufa-strewn crags in this amazing valley.

Soon after we hit the first crag (not officially on the map yet – watch this space) Caro christened this area ‘tufa-land’ and we had a great day on newly bolted lines up to 40 metres!! One with overhanging ‘tram-line’ tufas for the final 25m…

Embarrassing river crossing shot...

Embarrassing river crossing shot…

More tufas followed at Poo de Cabrales a classic destination in the shadow fo the Picos and with views of the iconic Picu Urriellu (Naranjo de Bulnes) in the background.

Checking the guide in the shadow of Bulnes...

Checking the guide in the shadow of Bulnes…

James and Caro made short work of many of the classics here but were stoked on the quality of the routes and at least one of them put up a bit of resistance – the short, thin tufa of ‘Bizcocho’ 7b+, surprising both of them with it’s difficulty. Short but no giveaway it seems.

James on Bizcocho

James on Bizcocho

They also sent Lord Byron 7c+ and few more and once again were impressed with the quality and the situation…

Day three saw us over in the west – James and Caro were ensconced in our holiday home – www.casaquiros.co.uk and we headed out to the giant cave of El Covachon in Teverga to get some steepness! James and Caro loved it and sent a bunch of classics including Mana  8a, Samba pa ti 8a, and Milenium 8a+. We also met up with locals Armando and Raul and had a great time cheering on Armando as he so nearly sent his project Macaco, 8b which crosses the giant roof.

Aramando almost getting it...but not quite...

Aramando almost getting it…but not quite…

Anyway, despite the disappointment for Aramndo it was a superb day’s climbing and James and Caro were suitably impressed with the quality and quantity of routes in the cave and once again the amazing situation overlooking the verdant valleys.

James onsighting Mana 8a as his warm up!!

James onsighting Mana 8a as his warm up!!

So after a great day we went in search of cider…

Roca Verde in Uk’s Climber magazine…

Roca Verde’s made yet another appearance in a European climbing magazine, this time in the UK’s Climber Magazine.

Based around the climbing in La Hermida it takes a look at the main crags there and what you need to know if your planning a visit to this mini climbing paradise close to Santander.

Great spread in climber magazine...

Great spread in climber magazine…

All included in the Roca Verde guidebook the La Hermida valley is a great destination combing a host of grades and styles of climbing to complement most parties.

The article runs to 8 pages with lots of great photos and is available in the UK until the 10th of September.

You can download a ‘rough’ copy of it here to get a flavour:

La Hermida