Trip report: Soy un Homber Nuevo in Naranjo de Bulnes.

by We didn't write this

During our last trip to Spain, our friends Ben and Katie raved about a 1500 foot cliff called Naranjo De Bulnes in the north of the country.


While packing our bags last minute for a 3 month trip to the north of Spain, I stuffed a single rack of widgets into the luggage, swearing to myself that I would not ship these back and forth across the Atlantic in vein.  After settling into our new Spanish lifestyle, it was time to pull the trigger and go for the climb before the weather got too cold.

There was basically no English information on the specifics of approaches, parking, etc.  So, thanks to some good info from Katie, many hours of internet snooping and lots of google translate, we managed to find and climb the peak, and bring you this detailed report on summiting this penis shaped tower.

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We left Bilbao friday afternoon and sped along the Bay of Biscay towards Picos De Europa National park.  The plan was to hike up to the hostal in the evening, and climb the following day.

We parked ( 43.231942, -4.780243 latitude + longitude) hiked through a small village (43.227013, -4.792800 latitude + longitude ) and then up through the clouds  witnessing an incredible airplane-esqe view.

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Headlamps on, we pushed further towards the hostel, being passed by Spaniard after Spaniard (these guys hike fast!).   This was alarming because when I called the hostel, they said there was little vacancy and recommended that I book a spot online immediately. The website refused to accept an international credit card, and having  brought no outdoor sleeping gear to Europe, I was sadly imagining every passing Spaniard taking the last bed.

Luckily, this was not the case, and after a brisk 2 hour walk we got a spot and sat down for a beer.  The refugio blew our minds a little bit; a fully functional restaurant and hostel (very remincient of Miguel’s) in the middle of a mountain range.   After having slept in caves, tallus fields, and under trees before big wall missions this was a welcome change.

The night was spent hearing  about 30 other smelly alpinists snore and fart in a communal room.  We awoke before sunrise, ordered a coffee, and stumbled into the freezing darkness for our push.

Our objective was the 1500 foot Soy Un Hombre Nuevo (I am a new man)

The crux of the route is actually the first few moves of the first pitch, a henious boulder problem leaving the ground.  Fingers freezing, headlamp akwardly reflecting off the rock, and my gear and water swaying back and forth, I pulled onto the rock in total darkness and managed to scream my way through the pitch, but not without gaining a terrible flash pump.  Tara followed, but had to pull through the first few moves.

From here, it was an amazing journey up (mostly) perfect pocketed gray rock.

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Tara, totally in her element, took more leads then ever, displaying an impressive level of comfort on the techy climbing, often 30 feet above the last bolt.  “Me gusta las placas” (I like the slabs) – Tara

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Towards the top, the bolts stopped almost entirely.  This was bad news since our trad rack consisted of 4 small cams and 4 nuts.  This was mostly fine, except for the 13 pitch, which was also completley rotten. Stemmed inside a corner made of limestone gravel 60 feet above a strange cam in a pocket is a great time for reflecting on the important things in life, which I assure you we did.  Luckily, we summited with me onsighting the route and Tara sending everything except for pulling through the first pitch.

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While I am pretty good about gathering logistics on how to summit, I usually let the descent beta reveal itself on the fly.  On the summit of this particular mountain, we were informed by some new spanish friends that our single 80 meter Maxim Airliner rope was not nearly sufficient to make the rappels back to the ground.  Luckily these guys were hospitable chaps and offered to let us rappel below them and untie our single line from the anchors as they went.  The phrase of the day here was “la proxima vez, una casca” which roughly translates to “Next time (I should wear) a helmet.”

We made it back to the hostel, bought our friends a thank-you beer (and a few for the descent) and drank our way down the trail back to the car, checking into the first available hotel. After a feast of sardines and flat bread, it was time for some quality sleep.

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The next morning, we awoke sore but ready for more.  We bought guidebook to the many, many crags of western Spain

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and went and checked out some Tufas.  The amount of rock in this region was disgusting, it was like Catalynia, but with 3 times more rock.  Damn you Spain, quit hoarding all of the rocks!