Game over…

For at lest  4-8 weeks. Depending on the damage done… But it’s more likely I won’t get to climb in nice weather anymore this season.

Long story short. Went bouldering to The Wall, as we normally do on the weekends. Last route (problem) of the day… and I fell of (or more – jumped off..)  from the top of black corner one,  my body was twisted and upon landing my right foot went sideways and twisted as well taking the whole body weight on it.

Went to the A&E in Blackrock to get an xray, as the swelling was significant and movement fully restricted.

The Doc diagnosed partially torn ligaments. Luckily no broken bones. It will take some time to heal…


Well I guess that’s what happens when bouldering. Stupid sport 😉


Bonus day at Picos

We weren’t meant to be climbing today at all, mainly due to fatigue but also bad weather forecast (or the other way around). Instead we opted to do some sightseeing of nearby towns and villages.

It happened that we did pack some Quickdraws, ropes a day other bits and pieces, just in case we find some sheltered sports crag.

We drove to nearby Potes I’m search for entertainment and a laundromat. Truth to be told, our clothing was a biohazard after a week of hard climbing.

We found a coin operated one in Ojeda, just north of Potes.

45minutes later all the dirt was gone. We also ran into a group of local climbers that happened to have a sport climbing guidebook. We got some recommendations of them and drove back to Potes for some lunch.

I bought some souveniers and we moved towards a crag in Los Llano (it wasn’t the recommended one, just happened to be nearby) , between Potes and Cosgaya (where we are staying).

Now, the crag was small enough (maybe 8 or 9 routes), rather dirty rock, with shitty belay stances on steep slope. It has few good features though. It was close to parking, 2min walk, extremally well bolted and… that’s it.

To compare it to local standards it was poor. No question about it. Good enough for few quick climbs today though.

We both lead 4 routes each, in V/V+ range, all steep with slightly overhanging cruxes, which was a nice contrast to the long and runout slabs of previous week.

The trip is now officially over. Flying ack to Dublin tomorrow.

Once I’m back I’ll upload rest of the stories/photos and will write up a summary blog.


Picos Day 7 – Not so easy climb at El Resquilon

Via route called Querosene.

It’s meant to be an easy approach, fun climbing, but ended up being 450m elevation gain steep walk in full sun with climb of questionable grade. Type 3 adventure.

I grabbed the first pitch, but really lost my Mojo after that (I still can’t wrap my head around those massive runouts) and Peter lead remaining four.

It’s very difficult to grade these climbs as the Spanish system for this kind of adventure climbing isn’t great. They operate Roman numbers system from III to VI+, with something like grade V being anything from VS4b to E1 5a.

Anyway out todays route, which is only some 150m long was selected mainly due to the fact that it was way too hot to do anything else. IT has couple of V pitches with V+ being the crux, mega steep roof.

As I mentioned the approach wasn’t super easy, but it wasnt the worst. The heat didn’t help for sure.

P1 was easiest by far, cruising slab, but also super run out. First bolt was at some 13m, with 1 cam placement in between. 2 more bolts (!!!) took it to the anchors at some 35m.

All the next pitches had some sort of roof obstacles, and none of them would be easier than Hvs/E1 5a, with the last one being and obvious boulder problem in low E grade for sure.

Above Peter on P4.

Below Peter on Crux of P5. The picture does give the perception of seriousness of the situation.

The roof crack was overhanging some 60% and required very powerful moves. I actually fell of it on my first attempt (sweaty hand slipped off when I was moving my feet up), and was suspended mid air with no reach to any wall… Kind of a bummer when ur partner is 25m above and can’t hear you.

Luckily Pete realized what was going on, promptly lowered me a bit, so I could push myself towards the wall and move up again. No mistakes this time.

The descent was also somewhat tricky, making it a definite type 3 fun. Normally these climbs are equipped with abseiling bolts. Nothing of that sort here (that we could find), just a gully, we walked down some 50m and abbed of once we found some bolt.

Quick walk to the car turned into “where is the path” game, so pit stop at nearest eatery was mandatory. Despite taking over a liter of water each it wasnt enough to stay hydrated.

Either way this was probably our last climb of the trip. Tomorrow is meant to be raining all day, so we’ll use that time to recover and do some touristy sightseeing.

I learned that to fully enjoy big climbs like that it takes more than technical skill. One needs to have a serious head game on. I don’t think I’m still there yet. WIP.


Picos Day 6

Walk back from Naranjo and ‘type two fun’ climb on Aguja de Bustamante pinnacle.

Again, I’ll write it up once home.

Picos 2017

Picos days 4-5 – Naranjo de Bulness (Pico Urriellu)

Text by  Peter:

Our climb of the most coveted peak of the Picos de Europa started with a breakfast negotiation at 6am with the stoic Spanish cook in the Refugio de Urriellu. Early starts are not the norm in the Spanish mountains apparently) After eating our hard won basket of cake and rich tea biscuits we set off just before dawn, heading for the South face and a 14 pitch route called La Cepeda.

The 5 hour approach from Fuente De. Peter looking towards our goal.

As it turned out, La Cepeda was a popular one – 2 people were already on it and 4 or 5 others were waiting at the bottom.


The night before we had made friends with a solo Spanish climber called Fernando – and again we met him at the base of the East face where he asked if he could join up with us and we agreed. Even though our Spanish was terrible (unless we needed to order beer) and Fernando’s English wasn’t much better, we somehow managed to communicate reasonably well. So we decided to climb a route called Amistad Con El Diablo – slightly harder than, but ultimately joining up with, Cepeda towards the top. Interestingly the name translates as “friendship with the Devil”….




I jumped straight on P1 which was a nice easy pitch to start. Although I did climb past the belay and belayed Michael and Fernando off a spike instead.

Lets get going!

Fernando raced up the slightly harder P2 with ease. So far so good- the rock was beautiful and the sun was on its way around the corner to warm us.

P3 – Michael was up next, he led the hardest pitch yet and looked solid. The theme so far seemed to be a lack of bolts and a lack of places to place protection…

Michael on P3

P4 was going to be the hardest pitch on the route (until the 6a overhang portion after we join La Cepeda, which it turns out was bolted well).

The grading was V+/ 6a – a sort of mixture of trad with an odd bolt at hard portions which were impossible to protect. E1 seemed appropriate for us Irish climbers. It being my turn to lead, I set off from the belay and the climbing got progressively harder until I reached the crux. I was on my limit and slipped on the slightly polished footholds a couple of times and only just managed to stay on! There were 3 bolts for 30m of climbing and not many options for trad gear…After quite a bit of faffing, procrastination and little motivational chats with myself, I was relieved to reach the next belay and had developed a new level of respect for Spanish climbers.

Up came Fernando with ease, followed by Michael – whom I was glad to see struggled a little at the crux! Fernando sped off again, making easy work of P5, which was not quite as hard the previous one, but sustained and run out climbing nonetheless.

When we were all safely at the next belay Michael decided he wasn’t in the mood for anymore scary leads, so it was my turn again.

P6 was graded in the region of V (maybe HVS or E1 but again the grades are hard to compare). A large roof blocked my way about 5m up, so the route went straight up and traversed left below the roof and then up its side. The traverse was super scary – from the belay for the first 5m (part of it a traverse), I placed one crappy cam, which was practically useless but provided some psychological reassurance nonetheless. I reached the roof and continued up fantastically runnelled limestone with more spaced out climbing to the belay above. (I couldn’t find the proper belay so I made one)

Leading off on P6

The traverse was super scary – from the belay for the first 5m (part of it a traverse), I placed one crappy cam, which was practically useless but provided some psychological reassurance nonetheless. I reached the roof and continued up fantastically runnelled limestone with more spaced out climbing to the belay above. (I couldn’t find the proper belay so I made one)

Now we would join Cepeda.

Michael had gotten his mojo back at this stage and was up for a lead. P7 turned out to be a beautiful climb with lots of bridging and uncharacteristically there was gear on demand.

Following climber on P6

It was now time for Fernando to showcase his Spanish sport climbing skills so he took the gear and cruised up P8 until a small overhanging section graded at 6a slowed him down. He struggled his way up the polished overhang, slipping and almost falling once or twice and soon he was near the top of the pitch disappearing from view. Thankfully there were a few bolts in in all the right places…

Michael and I were soon climbing and I was pleased to climb the crux cleanly, although it would have been a difficult lead. Kudos to Fernando, our favorite Spaniard.

The Pitch finished with a squirm though a hole, through which Michael only just fitted, which brought us out onto the South face (we had intersected the ridge between south and east)

Feet first did the trick…

The ropes were packed away and we scrambled the remaining 150 or so meters to the South Summit of the Naranjo de Bulnes. A nice little ridge walk to the northern summit and we were shaking hands and taking pictures after what was an incredible route on a spectacular mountain…

Summit selfie – From left – Me, Fernando & Mic

The decent consisted of multiple abseils down the now quiet South face direct route. Soon we were back at the Refugio de Urriellu for celebration beers, just in time to see the dreaded mist approach from the valley.