To be honest, there wasn’t much about climbing in northern Spain until recently when a few guidebooks suddenly appeared from nowhere. You have often heard, “yeah, these strong spanish climbers, they all train and come from the north”. And then “if you don’t climb an 8c, then don’t go there” was more like the impression I got. I guess Oñati was what was spinning in my head all the time, until recently this when thing about Asturias went hay wire in the web. I found quite a bit about surfing the waves, bears, caving and climbing! And then came some travel blogs with pictures that perked my inspiration:
Green juicy meadows, long sandy beaches, plus loads of Bovedas and Cuevas to discover.
Nobody had to persuade me twice to go to Cantabria and Asturias. It just needs some time, perfect weather and a guide-book to get me moving.
Autumn seemed best to us when the tufas could have dried up and when some of the bird bans were over. It is perhaps a time when you feel comfortable to have the sun rays shining on your back. So we left on a 6000 km Roadtrip and made our first stop in Valles de los Picos de Europa after 4 days of non stop driving.
The Author of this guidebook, Alberto Boza is not only an active climber, but an active local mountaineer as well. According to his website, he has been climbing in the vicinity for more than 30 years and has collected more than 370 routes in the 8th grade. Many more interesting achievements and adventures can be found on his website.
Leon, Valle del trubia, Valle del Picos de Europa, Oriente and central Asturias are major areas of the region that is covered by the guidebook. There’s granite, grey or reddish limestone and Tufaland to get your hands on. And levels made for everyone. (So, my dreams of a compulsory 8c perished) When I first took an insight into the book, I wasn’t sure where to start. The limestone and tufas looked all so inviting. There were also styles made to suit all tastes: slabs, vertical walls, overhangs, roofs, caves and plenty of 8b s to tackle. My! That would be something I would call off my limits.
The guidebook comes together with a code that gives you access to the digital Vertical Life App. With this you would have all the topos in your smartphone which gives you a reason to leave the guidebook aside while on the go. Nevertheless, we took both along as we needed a back up and to stay flexible.
There are also hints for accommodation and some warnings for wild campers. Teverga is the only community that officially supports this without handing out a summon ticket from the local police. Take heed also on correct parking, and don’t block the road.
The images and descriptions in the guidebook are clear. You will find the english translations between some of the paragraphs. There’s always an introductory explanation to the area before the topos. The name and gradings are listed right next to the topos, so you won’t have to switch pages often to look at the picture and text. Icons are set right at the top of each topo, so that you have all the information you need at a glance. The height of each wall is given, but unfortunately not the length of each individual route. Colours at the rim of the book helps finding different areas of the region quickly.
There were a few times we got lost. As a total stranger to the area, with no one to ask, no spanish knowledge, it was a hard game at the spot even though we thought we had a rough idea of where certain sectors could be. But the country was big, and we were just blinded by walls, angry kangal herding dogs and trees everywhere. More accurate access times and more detailed english translation e.g. to important information to Bird Bans or extra care on certain routes where an 80m rope is needed would be something I would wish for in the next edition. But these experiences add a little more spice in the day, which thankfully wasn’t too many.
The major climbing areas mentioned in the book are mainly clustered between Oviedo and Leon. So unless you are planning on a round trip, you could either plan your accommodation near the coast or directly in the mountains where you can find Casa Rurals, Albergues or B&B to stay in. Unlike the areas around Catalunya, campsites are scarce here and if any, opened only till early September before they close off for the winter. So its good to have your Habitaciones well planed before if you’re coming after September. Teverga and Quiros are major sites with many routes for all levels clustered nearby, so you have a bigger choice of sectors without having to travel big distances. However, it would be almost a shame to leave out other worthy venues, mentioned in the book too.
This guidebook gives you a good overview of the areas to climb, if you are heading over to northern Spain. Topped with the app, the author has chosen a good selection of crags to give you a taste of the excellent limestone crags and walls around Asturias and Cantabria. These regions are not only a great alternative to the more popular, sun infested, less rainy areas in the south e.g. in Catalunya, it makes you come back to a place where you would like to stop the TIME and just absorb. If spanish is not a problem for you, then this book would be a good starter. Part of the revenues generated by the guide book is used to maintain these climbing locations. There’s still room for improvement to accommodate international visitors for this edition, but with so much potential in this beautiful part of the world, I am sure that there will be a new edition on the way next. Thank you for uncovering a part of the secrets of Asturias, Alberto!
Author: Alberto Boza
Price: 38,90 € including App
*Disclosure: Thanks to Bergfreunde.de for the sample for review purposes. My opinion and views are based on my experience.