After The Send: Spanish Road Trip (Asturias)
Brrrrrrrrr…Waking up at the bottom of Entecampos in the purpose built climber’s car park was a very cold experience. January is considered a little late in the season up in Northern Spain but there was still tons of campers (all Spanish), with their minds set to send but their windscreens set to defrost. The car park is pinned in by two huge mountains, a river and a scattering of beautiful little buildings. There are showers, toilets, a wash area and super friendly locals.
I had arranged to meet Richie Patterson as I left it too late to get a guide book delivered and he said he could sort one out. It turns out, he actually wrote the guidebook and has lived in Asturias for 11 years! So, he was happy to show me and my climbing partner, James Pymn, around.
First was the Entecampos crag which has some of the best slabs I have ever climbed. One of the most memorable climbs was ‘Via De Los Techos’- a 30 meter slab with every type of move and style imaginable. It’s not desperate, with a few good resting points but the whole 30 meters is full of beautiful moves which flow in a way I have never experienced before. Another route which blew my mind was ‘Hiroshima’- a super technical thin slab/wall climb. I was sucked in to this route, it is intense!
Another -6 degree night in the van and we were ready to meet Richie for our next tour around Quiros. This area boasts a massive 23 sectors with grades ranging from 5+ to 8b and countless projects. We didn’t climb as much this day as my fingers got a seeing to the day before but we still managed to have a go on ‘Asterix’, a relentless 27 meter 7a with amazing sequences and the most beautiful crimps (but too sharp for my fingers). The area is superb and the views are incredible with a dark turquoise lake at the base.
The next night, Richie was kind enough to let us stay in his holiday let, located just in the next village over, with equally as outstanding views. The house has a rustic feel, lovely old features and modern appliances and best of all, a super mist like shower. As I was already pretty beat from the cold and crimping I decided to have a day chilling in the house using the internet and warming by the wood stove.
The following day, we went to Muro Techo. If this isn’t a household name (climber’s house) in the next 5 years- great!!! I’ll keep it all for myself. I am pretty lucky to have climbed in many different areas and on routes which may have only had 2 climbers on it before me or even just first ascents… but I have never felt friction as good as at this crag. The routes are made up of a weird coral like texture, bright orange and in the normal Spanish style full of tufas and pockets. We headed there on the most beautiful day and jumped on a 33 meter 7, ‘Sin Nombre’. It was a very delicate route climbing up to a more powerful roof section, again followed by more delicate moves to a slabby finish- just insane! Another great route is ‘Retorno a la Tierra’, with the friction available in winter this route is a solid 6b+ but with future polish (10+ years), it could be much harder! At the top of this route it carries on to an unknown project with multiple tufas, as thick as a 2 litre bottle, 5 meters long and protruding by at least 2 foot in places. Again, Asturias has some incredible features.
On our rest day, I filmed Richie for an up and coming video he is producing about his fight to jump his grade from 7b+ to 8b+ in a year. He showed us around his local climbing wall and took us up to his 8b+ project, ‘In da House’. I also managed to shoot some drone footage of the area. Keep an eye out!
After getting hooked on a project at Muro Techo we returned a few days later in the snow hoping to find something to climb or even just take some pictures of the atmospheric views. I didn’t think there would be any dry rock after a whole night of rain, wind and snow but as I got closer I could see that not one route was wet… apart from the project. The roof above the 35 meter routes shelters the crag and with the incredible friction, despite the rain, our feet didn’t slip! I think the future classic and best route I climbed in Asturias has to be ‘Pillacinta’, this 7a embraces the friction like no other. From about mid height you mantel over a bulging roof with little in the way of holds- only friction and a choice of heels. The rest of the route keeps you locked in tight and feels like climbing a Fontainbleau classic, only with more grip and luckily, a couple of bolts.
This Spanish road trip carries on for another 7 weeks but unfortunately, with the weather turning we are moving south to El Chorro. I will be surprised if any other place in Spain can blow my mind like Asturias has.
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