Picos de Europa – Naranjo de Bulnes Week

Just back from a sucessful trip to the Picos de Europa Climbing  in the premier National park in Northern Spain, where we nailed the Matterhorn of Spain – the Naranjo de Bulnes.  This is my favourite mountain region in the whole of Europe and always a joy to visit, with a richness and wildness of landscape seldom matched anywhere.  In the Picos, chamois and eagles are a daily sight, rather than a rarity! 

Other highlights of the week included a remote bivouac in the western massif in order to climb the South Face of the Pena Santa and an ascent of Asturcone in the Hermida Gorge.

Immaculate rock on the S Face Direct of the Pena Santa de Castilla.

W Face of the Naranjo de Bulnes – the Matterhorn of Spain.

Malcolm Roberts on the S Face Direct of the Naranjo de Bulnes.


Just when I thought I’d lived up to family traditions on the Naranjo de Bulnes

I was chatting to my mum on the phone last night – when she first tried the Naranjo (after a 6hr walk in all the way from the bottom of the Cares gorge), they got caught in a massive thunderstorm 1 pitch from the top. 

There were no bolted abb anchors back then (or camming devices to protect the route for that matter – they hadn’t been invented yet), just some manky pegs that flexed as the others abbed on them – so rather than risking an anchor failure she down climbed the whole route in the pouring rain (believe me, that doesn’t bear thinking about) – then slept in a cave for the night, soaked to the skin.

Needless to say, she went back to finish the last pitch and finally reached the summit a few years later with my dad – though even as a kid, I definitely remember him taking a new rack of Friends with him…

We are not worthy!