Posted on Wednesday 1 July 2015

Roca Verde, North West Spain October 2015

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The Roca Verde guidebook delivered its promise. We had it all – interesting and memorable technical slabs, cracks, steep walls, overhanging tufas, single & multi pitch. And, as if that was not enough, there were beautiful mountain backdrops at every crag, almost no other climbers and sticky, sharp unpolished rock. Nine of us based ourselves in the tiny mountainside village of Aciera. Rog, Deb, Lawrence and Bernie staying in a delightful traditional cosy cottage (Casa Quiros) with a view to die for from the smallest room. Ian, Alison, Graham, Will and Tony staying in a house tucked away in a corner of the village a 100m away. A 20 minute walk took us to the Quiros crags & hundreds of climbs. And hundreds, if not thousands, more climbs were a short drive away. The owners of Casa Quiros, Richie (the RV guidebook author) & Mary were fantastic, helping us book the additional accommodation, directing us to crags that would suit us, and recommending local shops and bars/restaurants, etc.

The risk, as with anywhere green (the clue is in the name), was the weather, but even the remnants of hurricane Joaquin, that made its presence known on Monday, didn’t stop us getting out. Half of us choosing to climb at an overhanging, dry crag and the other half enjoying an exploratory walk through the countryside. The weather for the rest of the week was pretty much perfect for climbing – sunny with a coolish air temp. In the main, we all found the grading to be a little bit tough and there was not a vast amount of low grade climbs (IV and Vs) however, there were plenty from V+ upwards.
Will & Tony, as expected, climbed loads of hard routes, though both were carrying injuries, so they reined it in a little and only climbed up to 7a+! Tony kept us entertained with his effective monkey method of climbing tufas, a technique strongly contested by Will, who employed a far more elegant approach (in his opinion).

Graham Phillips possibly had the most diverse climbing week, I believe he climbed with each one of us at some point, visited the most crags and climbed the widest range of grades (despite the length – or shortness – of his arms;-))
Lawrence, Bernie, Rog and Deb particularly enjoyed the superb (and graded as would be expected) slabs Rabanal de Luna in the Leon region (a good hours drive away but over a mountain pass with more beautiful views).

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Other memorable features of the trip, for me, were the Grifon vultures with their 3m wingspan, whooshing back and forth along the crag; the Asturian restaurant serving 5 courses of traditional food and wine for only 15 euros each; the fascinating wooden grain stores that were perched 5 foot high on top of conical pillars to protect the contents; and the 17th century coin that I found in the soil at the base of a crag.

I will definitely be returning…….

Alison Athroll

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