Roca Verde: Sport Climbing in north-west Spain
Richie climbing at the tufa paradise of Rumenes © Richie Patterson
The grades in this guide are the grades set by the local climbers over many years, don’t visit the crags covered by Roca Verde looking for holiday grades. You come here to enjoy the quality of the climbing and the beauty of lush scenery. There is climbing here for every season in what was, until now, one of Europe's best kept secrets, however I would suggest that late summer and early autumn is the probably the best time of year to get the most out of a first visit.
There is something for everyone in this diverse area with over 3500 climbs ranging from relaxing 2's to some elite 9a's but the bulk of the routes are single pitch and in the popular range of 6a-8c. Some of the routes are longer than 35m but can usually be climbed with a 70m rope provided you re-belay as you lower off. In fact a 70m rope is recommended and 20 quick draws will be sufficient for most of the routes in the area.
Mike Owen writing in his blog after visiting Asturias. "The main objective was to visit Cantabria and Asturias in northern Spain as a result of buying Richie Patterson's excellent new topo to Roca Verde. From the topo we sussed out the places that would keep us entertained: Poo de Cabrales and Rumenes. Both crags have enough shade for summer cragging. Driving along the autopista the scenery reminded us of North Wales. The mountains rise very steeply just a couple of km inland from the Atlantic in much the same way that the Carneddau rise above the villages of Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan. All the climbs at sector Chorreras are well worth doing, especially Rumenes power y al vino (one of the best 7a+’s anywhere) and the 50m 8a classic Sindrome de Stendhal. There are plenty of places to park up in the camper van in peace. On rest days the food and beer is very cheap in the climbers bar in La Hermida (Posada la Cuadrona) and there is a hot spring under the bridge. The region is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, the climbing is fantastic and the topo is amazing and so inspiring. I can’t wait to go back.” Mike Owen. Read more on Mike Owen's Blog.
Sindrome de Stendhal 8a, 50m of tufa! © Richie Patterson
Roca Verte is certainly a green and pleasant land, that is surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery strangely reminiscent of North Wales but blended with hints of Northumberland and the proximity to many brilliant beaches. It is situated on Spain's Atlantic coast and can enjoy weather patterns that we are familiar with in Britain. Fortunately the area has plenty of shower proof crags that provide shelter for the odd rainy day. Mountain biking (with bike hire and maps available locally) is a popular rest day activity on the many off road trails.
Where to Stay
Climbers parking area in Teverga © Richie Patterson
Teverga is situated in a National Park and wild camping is not permitted. Sleeping in vans is usually okay but in high season be aware that outside of the approved spots in big vans you can get fined. Again outside of these times there is generally no problem. Smaller vans, VW size are OK nearly everywhere. There are plenty of places to stay in the area but a great option if you are in a van there is a large parking area at Teverga which make a popular base for climbers, it can get very busy in the height of summer though! Also, just south of La Hermida is another approved parking area.
There are many apartments and hotels in the area round Arenas as well as a huge campsite (campingnaranjodebulnes.com) that’s open most of the year. There are more campsites all along the coast next to the popular beaches. However for something a bit posher Richie runs Casa Quirós www.casaquiros.co.uk a house in the small village of Aciera ideally situated just below the crag of Quirós.
In his review of the first edition Dave Pickford, the editor of Climb Magazine described the area as "Quite possibly Europe’s best kept climbing secret". Well the secret is out now!
The Parque Natural Somiedo is well worth a visit to enjoy it's stunning landscape of ancient beech, chestnut and oak forests interspersed with beautiful rivers, superb streams and surrounded by glorious wild flower meadows
According to Ben Masterson "Asturias contains some fabulous climbing areas, and Roca Verde makes an excellent companion." in his review on UKC.
Also from Roca Verde is El Desfiladero de La Hermida which is the definitive sport climbing guide to La Hermida gorge. It describes 24 never before published crags (and nearly 700 routes). More details here.