Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Naranjo de Bulnes: Rabada-Navarro

another year is gone / a traveler's shade on my head, / straw sandals at my feet (Matsuo Bashō)

There goes another climbing trip to this amazing wall on the Iberian peninsula, Naranjo de Bulnes, or Picu Urriellu in Asturian (a language that exists, says the Wiki, despite local inhabitants arguing to the contrary when asked about it in the bar in Arenas de Cabrales).  The logistics turned out to be rather simple - after being kindly picked up at the Santander airport, my Swedish friends and I headed to Sotres, and then up to the Urriellu Refugio, to be greeted there warmly by Sergio and his hard-working team.

Majestic Naranjo coming into sight on the approach 

The approach is one of the more beautiful ones I have done in the mountains - it is flat enough to make it rather painless, and the scenery, especially in the cloudless evening light, is breathtaking.  Appreciating beauty is something mountains teach the lonesome traveler over the years.  It is worthwhile to stop and take one more picture, one more fleeting memory of the light and darkness, mist and transparency below.

Mist coming up the valley on the approach 

Then at another turn of the road, the West face comes into sight, in all its majesty and towering preponderance.  It made me think of the Civetta region in the Dolomites, and the Torre Trieste in particular.  Long time ago, in that long-forgotten other life, I climbed a route there, the proud Cassin route, where we had to bivy on the painful descent, but what a route it was!  With memories of trying to free the key 6b pitch low down on the Cassin, I was contemplating Naranjo, and wondering about this new objective, Rabada-Navarro.

The second part of Rabada-Navarro in the evening sun on the West Face of the Naranjo

A beautiful day was waiting for us, giving us all the time, all the chances on our side, to go up.  Jonas easily led up the hard 6cs at the start, while I tried to follow with some remains of dignity and perseverance.  Oh yes, it's been a while I had been on the long route, carrying the heavy backpack, jamming and pulling the tired body up.  My spirits lifted when finally arriving at the famous 6a+ traverse.  Jorge told me I had to take a picture there, just for him.  So here it goes, traversing all the way:

Leading the traverse pitch, Rabada-Navarro (picture by Jonas Wiklund)

The feeling of control, something I already encountered on Blamannen last year, came back while we scaled meters and meters of easy-ish terrain higher up.  The epic of bivying on the Cassin was not to be - in a couple of hours after the traverse we were already sitting on the top of Naranjo, that is after I almost crawled on the last looooong pitch to the top.  After a peaceful descent and some simul-rapping fun with Jonas, we were down. A lonely missile, a stone fell from the top, just as we were about to touch the ground.  It broke off into thousands of pieces a couple of meters away, a warning, a sign, a reminder back to reality.  Mountains are dangerous, although sometimes they let you pass without a scratch, they let you forget about mortality, about futility, insignificance, and the lack of permanency here down below.

Having accomplished the big objective of the trip on the first day, there was not much left to do for the remainder of the trip.  As Jonas fell ill, paying the tribute to the mountains that allowed him to do so many routes in so few days, we scaled a couple of pitches on Leiva with Joakim, and then went down due to bad weather.

Joakim following the first pitch on Leiva

Thus, another trip came to its end in Valdegobia, where we had to beg for food in this scarcely populated Basque village, living in the haunted mansion all to ourselves, sharing the space of a mystic religious abode in Angosto.  While everyone returns to their homes around Europe, memories (and a blog post) tentatively remain.

Statue of a melancholic raquero watching the weather and the sea in Santander


Anonymous said...

Como un sueño, un espejismo, una flor de vacuidad,
así es nuestra vida.
¿Por qué sufrimos intentando atrapar esa ilusión?

(Kanchi Sosan)

uasunflower said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vo12usv6BWM#! ?

Xavi said...


uasunflower said...

one day, xavi, we have to go back to those mountains together :)

pedrogelida said...

hola guapa! vaya vacaciones,que bonito todo no? hace algunos años estuve por ahi... pero ni escalaba.Nada aprovecho para saludarte y que pases un buen verano!