dimanche 17 août 2014

The rain in Spain .... Climbing in Rumenes.

We know that we've returned to the Mediterranean because the sky is blue. We've missed the sun so much during the past few weeks.

The main objective was to visit Cantabria and Asturias in northern Spain as a result of buying Richie Patterson's excellent new topo "Roca Verde". However the forecast was bad so we stuck to the sunny side of Spain to begin with.
The view from our doss spot high above La Hermida, Cantabria

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 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. Due to the uncertainty of not being able to get the Scali back up the track we decided to drive back up that evening (after doing Mojo Pican, a really nice 7a+, Mojita Matata, a great 7b+ and working a really long 7c). It was touch and go and needed some rally driving to make it back up. We made the long walk the following day instead which was an uphill killer at the end of the day in the full sun. (That day I did one of the best 7c's I've ever done called El Poder del Keler but I couldn't hang on the slopey crux of Generacion del Silencio, 7b+!) After that we decided to go somewhere else with a much shorter walk in.

Tufa paradise

El Fronton at Culla from the end of the track (photo by Elaine Owen)

Somewhere we'd never been to was Onati in the Basque. After only 2 minutes walk in I was motivated to do the 2 great looking tufa climbs where you arrive at the crag (Sonata, 7c and Mamba, 8a). However with very high humidity the climbing was hard work and it took me so long to do Sonata (completely pumped and covered in sweat) that I didn't bother even trying Mamba. It was great to make new friends, Gaizka and Sergio were really helpful and always good fun at the crag. Unfortunately, we never saw the sun during the 3 days we were there and we got fed up of the humidity and the rain.

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 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.

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