Tag Archives: Quiros

Las Saleras hike

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It’s been a spectacular winter, and now spring, here in Asturias, with lots and lots of sunshine and very little rain. We’ve been making the most of it, climbing, hiking and generally being outdoors every chance we get. Unfortunately, with all this unseasonal making hay while the sun shines this blog has been somewhat neglected. We have however been accumulating experiences, photos and a ton of good stuff to share with you so I guess we’d better get on with it!

Let’s kick off with some photos from a hike we did back in January (although you’d be forgiven for thinking it was from last summer – check out those blue, blue skies!) This route took us up to Las Saleras peak at 1,700m with magnificent views over Puerto Ventana, to the Picos de Europa and even off to the sea in the north.

Quite apart from those views on the horizon and the simple satisfaction of peak bagging, the hike was full of interest.  At times we kept our eyes to the ground as we sought out traces of the Cantabrian brown bears and wolves that still live in these mountains. At others it was the traces of human civilisation in centuries gone that captivated us.

It was approaching twilight as we passed through La Braña de los Fuexos on our final descent. Here the stony remains of an ancient settlement of cowherds’ cabins and their livestock corrals are dwarfed by giant, ancient beech trees. Picking our way through in the half-light of the witching hour made for a truly magical finish to a great day out on the hills.

 

 

views from Bermiego, Quiros

Running in the Cordillera Cantábrica

Record-breaking long distance runner and good friend of ours Patrick Devine-Wright came to visit us at Casa Quirós last summer. Naturally he couldn’t resist pulling on his trainers and getting out on the trails for a wee 60km run complete with 2000 metres of ascent. Here’s his account of his day out in the mountains here in the Valles del Oso.

 

setting off

Patrick setting off from the Senda del Oso

I start in the best way possible, a gentle downhill run along a car-free track – the Senda del Oso – from Caranga Baxu to Villaneuva. I jog loosely and lightly feeling my limbs warm up in the morning light, readying to the task of a long day out in the Cordillera Cantábrica. This is my first trip to these mountains, and with map in hand, I set out to explore new routes in the unfamiliar landscape of Northern Spain. Half an hour later, there is some fencing on both sides of the track and suddenly a bear ambles alongside me on the other side of the fence! I have reached the Casa del Oso, a sanctuary for a family of orphaned bears, and a reminder that the hills I am running in are still wild in ways unfamiliar to the UK, with bear and wolf roaming at high altitudes.

 

Running with bears - a first for Patrick!

Running with bears – a first for Patrick!

Having reaching Villaneuva, the next section is spectacular. After a steep road climb, I find the trail that ascends a gorge, following a rocky path winding upwards with significant exposure to my right hand side down to the river far below on the valley floor. I pass several families slowly walking along the path and pause occasionally to catch my breath and take in the magnificent views. Reaching the top of the gorge, the path enters shady woodland and soft trails, still climbing towards the tiny village of La Rebollada to pick up the GR106, my main footpath for the day. Villages are welcome stopping points for me throughout the run, as I seek out the local fuente (fountain) for some thirst quenching water and a respite from the ever increasing heat.

 

'Feel like jumping in - already climbed 500m!' tweeted Patrick at this point

‘Feel like jumping in – already climbed 500m!’ tweeted Patrick at this point

Leaving the village behind, I have already climbed 700m and reach a broad grassy pass. There are high mountains all around but today they are shrouded in low cloud and all I can hear are the tinkling bells of cowherds along their slopes. The trail is mostly easy to follow, and clouds of butterflies in soft blues and yellows fly up from my steps along the grassy trail, leading me to the larger village of Bermiego and a long gradual descent into another valley. It is now four hours since I set out and I am seriously hungry and thirsty! I find a small bar and refresh with two bottles of fizzy pop, a packet of crisps and some mini-pastries available at the bar filled with tuna, an Asturian delicacy.

 

views from Bermiego, Quiros

Patrick’s views from Bermiego

Then it is onwards for the crux of the run – a long ascent past the tiny villages of Renderos and Ricabo towards my destination – the Puerto Ventana at an altitude of 1587m. The heat is searing and I welcome the cool waters of the fuentes in each village as well as any shade that the path may bring as it winds ever upwards. The path meanders through purple heathers and leafy fern, with rocky outcrops looming overhead. Buzzards glide in the blue sky on thermals of warm air and eventually, I reach the top of the valley to find a lonely hermitage, locked and empty. Again I pause, enjoying for a moment the tranquillity of this remote place, before scooping gulps of cool mountain water from a nearby spring. There only remains some easy flat trail to the end of my run, and a hitch hike back down the valley to the point where I began a memorable 60km (2000m climb) of mountain running hours before.

 

Climbing with Children at Quirós

Not every day’s climbing is about ‘sending the gnar’ (as some of our American friends like to say ;-) ). Sometimes just getting to the crag can be an achievement in itself. Take the other Saturday. I was here in Casa Quiros, car-less and partner-less, all set for an afternoon of house-bound pottering with our 6 year old son when I was messaged by some friends, a group of mums who climb. Turned out they were heading cragging here to Quirós. The perfect excuse to ditch the duster!

3 Mums climbing with their 4 kids - mission accomplished!

3 Mums climbing with their 4 kids – mission accomplished!

It was a beautiful afternoon so, even with an easily-tired six year old in tow, the walk from Casa Quiros to the base of the crag was a pure delight. We caught up with our friends halfway along the path – two brave mums with 3 small children. Brave because the first rule of doing anything with children (imho) is try and not let them outnumber you! This goes double for climbing but despite the odds being stacked against us we made it pretty painlessly to La Selva.

La Selva sector is a great spot for families and beginners with a wide, tree-shaded base at the foot of the climbing and a ton of easier routes, including some very fine slabs that go at between grade 4 and 5.  The perfect place for setting up camp for an afternoon.

Climbing in a three meant that there was always one mum with her hands free to supervise the four little ones, who ranged in age from 2 to 6. To be frank, this task would make sending sevens seem easy but sharing it between us and breaking it up with some 5 star routes helped preserve our sanity!

In fact we were all having such a good time that it wasn’t until twilight that we finally got ourselves packed up and headed back down. It’s a good thing the path is wide and easy! And so we arrived home with smiles on our faces and a real sense of achievement despite having no ‘gnar’ to report :-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Climbing at La Cubana, Quirós

There a ton of climbing at Quirós, the climbing area that’s closest to Casa Quirós, just a ten minute walk. It’s still one of the most popular places to climb in Asturias even though it’s one of the longest established. As there’s so much there i’ts worth getting a bit of a sector by sector overview and so I’ll start with La Cubana.

This is one of those sectors that’s got a bit of everything – from your first 5 to an 8a+ roof – and because of that it seems a lot bigger than it is. This is also probably because most of the routes are really good, and in fact there are two or three that are ‘must do’ routes of Quiros. It’s actually a pretty small sector but because there’s quite a bit to go at and the routes are short, I always tend to have a good time there.

La Cubana

Lying a little bit above La Selva there’s a bit of a steep slog uphill on a  rough path – but at least it gets the blood pumping. In summer La Cubana catches the sun a bit later than the rest of the crag and its angle means it’s late to leave too, getting rays until around 5.30…

Denise, an English friend, and my partner Mary got there first and had already sent Mao and Tao, two great little 6a pitches on the high-quality grey limestone that bounds the left had part of the sector. And when I arrived Den was just setting off the classic Sol y Nieve, 6c, which takes a line of thin holds up a vertical wall. Balancy and delicate there´s a couple of hard pulls and it’s a bit of a vertical puzzle.

Denise Mortimer does the crux of Sol y Nieve...

I followed, leading the route for about the 4th time, and although I knew it, the off-balance nature of the climbing and the delicacy of the moves means it’s never in the bag until the chains are clipped.

Suitably flash pumped I decided it was Den’s turn again and sent her the brilliant Corazon Salvaje (Wild Heart), 6c+. This is an unusaul route for Quiros and one of the best there, involving some burly pulls on an ever steepening tufa. Sharp and committing  Den almost had it but just failed to latch the key part of the tufa. Cold hands and sharp holds almost certainly playing a part!

Ruben Trabanco Corazon Salvaje, 6c+, La Cubana, Quiros.

I did the route quickly after Den and emboldened by warm hands, and owing Den a favour, I offered (was persuaded) to put the clips in the very fingery 7a, Brutus. Like a thin version of Sol and Nieve Brutus is, well, brutal! Luckily on the attached video you can’t see my poor efforts where I fell before the crux but this gives you an idea of the nature of the climbing.

Anyway hats off to Den who sent it first go, flashing it and ending up very pleased with her days haul. Another great day out, a mite cold but some sweet routes in the bag.

Local climbing videos

As the author of the Roca Verde climbing guide (as well as the owner of Casa Quiros) we decided to make some videos about climbing in the area. There’s not too many about and very made by Brits so I tought it would be a nice thing to do.

Here’s the first one I’ve done – it’s me on one of the super cool routes at the Sector Las Ardillas, at the crag of Quiros in the heart of Asturias. 

I’ll be making plenty more videos from now on – and hopefully learning more on the way – and you can see more at my YouTube channel.

RocaVerde YouTube channel…

I’ve also started to collate as many videos about Asturias as possible in one place so you can see what else there is on offer. These are collated in a playlist:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPe1tXXxMB4&list=PLik4mTwuFWUFOF6aajqIXFuoSTE704Xp9

There’s about 30 videos that I have found – of varying quality – that show some of the climbing in Asturias and beyond.

Salteado de setas, gambas y almejas

Pan de Trigo Restaurant in Barzana

We are very lucky at Casa Quirós to have several good restaurants within a short distance – perfect for rest day relaxation and re-fueling of tired muscles.  But we have to say that Pan de Trigo in Barzana (5km from the house) is really a cut above the standard fare. If you’re looking for a special meal at a very accessible price then look no further.

With a 3 course weekday lunch menu, including wine, for just 9€ you really can’t go wrong. The cheesecake alone is worth that price! Seriously. To die for.

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With tasty and creative dishes such as this spicy sauteed wild mushroom, prawn and clams available within the set lunch option, you don’t ever need to stray into the more expensive a la carte territory unless you really feel inspired to do so.

Salteado de setas, gambas y almejas

Salteado de setas, gambas y almejas

Having said that, if you do fancy pushing the boat out, this is a good place for it. It’s that rare thing – a restaurant that offers chef-led, creative, contemporary cuisine without tipping over into pretentious territory. The charming rustic decor adds to the appealing atmosphere, as does the deserved presence of a steady stream of patrons.

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For quick bites there is a good array of bar snacks and tapas and free mini-tapas throughout the day to accompany drinks. Top tip: it’s also a good spot for morning coffee, where you’ll be given fresh-baked mini-croissants to accompany your brew.

Remember the name: Pan de Trigo. It’s just off the main street in Barzana, down a set of steps before the Coviran supermarket. Easy to miss but you definitely don’t want to do that. It’s a must-visit.P1040322

First new route at Quirós – Chorerra Negra, 7a+

Returning to Quirós after a break from climbing was a treat for me for a number of reasons; firstly I completed my project, secondly I warmed up on a route which felt pumpy as hell on the last visit and finally I had the same feeling repeating a route as the first time – which is rare.

There are some places I just love to climb and Sector Eclipse at Quiros is one of them. Now I don’t understand why, but this is a sector ignored by most and I have  hardly ever seen anyone there, though there often chalk…

However, for me it has a great mix of routes, there’s a decent spread of grades and possibly the best 6c+ in Asturias. (Controversial!!!) And one more thing I should mention, it also gets into the shade at around 1.30, a blessing for a keen climber in the summer months.

Amanita 6c+

Amanita 6c+

So on my first of two quick visits I warmed up on Amanita 6c+, a really good (and long) route which takes a burly crack for fully 35 metres. I had done it a few years ago and it was certainly easier the second time – there’s big moves, finger jams and intricate slabs and was happy that I felt solid all the way.

I was happy because I’d returned to finish a route I’d bolted about two years ago – called Chorrera Negra I’d tentatively graded it 7a and put it in the guide even though I’d not had time to complete it. I’d had the time after bolting to top rope it and although very tired had just about done it in one go. So although I thought it may be tricky since I was feeling good I thought I’d just whip up it quickly and get it ticked.

On the crux of Chorerra Negra 7a+ on the first ascent

On the crux of Chorerra Negra 7a+ on the first ascent

However, I hadn’t counted on the fact that A. I hadn’t cleaned it brilliantly and the intervening 1.5 years would leave it worse. And B. it was pretty badly bolted with spaced bolts meaning you had to do hard moves above them and C. it was bloody hard!!!

Up, down, up down, I got pumped and more pumped. – feet on nothing much, dirty hand holds and fear keeping me down. Finally I committed and managed to push on – brutal – but a decent crimp got me clipped and a carried on. Phew, crux done! I didn’t remember anything else hard until the last few feet so felt a bit happier. But, I was once again subject to memory failings as almost isntantly the territory became thin, precarious and very, very unobvious. Sketch by sketch I advanced and slowly but surely i was going to be mine. By the end I was totally pumped with cramping feet and it was will power nothing more (and the threat of having to come back) which got me up it.

Very relieved I snagged the belay and lowered off pleased as punch but damn tired.  I was very proud of my route and my determined effort, whilst acknowledging it’s failings and vowing to come back and clean and add a bolt or two to my ordeal.

High on the route and very tired

High on the route and very tired

So overall, maybe my first new route on the Queen of Asturian crags isn’t the greatest but it’s intricate and fun (in an old school way). I upgraded Chorrera Negra to 7a+, I am going back soon to ‘sort it out’.

The Vuelta 2014

On Monday the Vuelta de España passed within a few hundred metres of Casa Quirós, so naturally we walked down the hill to watch the peleton fly by. It would be rude not to, right?

To put the local road-biking terrain into perspective for you, this stage of the Vuelta was the ‘reina etapa’; or ‘queen stage’. That is to say, the potentially decisive one; the hardest and hilliest of the entire tour (not one where the riders dress in drag ;-) ) By the time they passed the bottom of our road the riders had already completed 3 mountain passes and still had 2 more to go.

They certainly deserved some cheering on and our neighbours were in fine voice to do so. However, as they urged on the mid-field stragglers, some 5 minutes behind the leaders at this point, with cries of ‘You’re right with them, keep it going,’ our 4 year-old son piped up in equally loud voice: ‘No you’re not. You’re miles behind!’ Ah, the honesty of small children…..

If you want to see the whole stage you can watch it here:

http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/vuelta-ciclista-a-espana/vuelta-ciclista-espana-2014-16-etapa-san-martin-rey-aurelio-farrapone-lsomiedo/2745889/

 

Ready for the Big Reveal?

Well, no….not quite yet. But very, very nearly. We are currently putting the finishing touches to Casa Quiros and it’s starting to look really rather beautiful, even if we do say so ourselves. *Puffs chest proudly* Please indulge a little preening, it’s been a tough road to get here. There’s been a lot of this:

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Followed by a lot of this (the tricky part: putting it back together again…the stuff you need the professionals for)

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It’s been out with the old wibbly-wobbly drunken floor and in with an artfully finished and soberly level solid oak one. A sad goodbye to the beautiful, antique but sadly cracked kitchen floor tiles, followed by a cheery ‘hola’ to some glorious authentic artisan-crafted cement-tile reproductions hunted down relentlessly online and shipped at great expense from southern Spain. Worth it to respect the character of this most authentic and charming of traditional Asturian cottages.

We’ve insulated throughout as we’ve gone, natch, and the windows are all new and double-glazed, of course, but they are wooden and complete with the locally typical shutters. The hot water is instant and gas-fuelled but there is a wood-burning stove for when you have the time and inclination to cosy up indoors. Or if the weather’s just too warm to even consider that, you can always just stick some wood on the barbie and chill out in the garden or in the comfortable shade of the porch, with its drinks fridge and outdoor kitchen area.

What can I say? We know you’re really going to love it. So watch this space for photos of the finished product coming soon. Or go one better and book yourself a visit. Special early bird promotional prices available now!

Contact us: info@casaquiros.co.uk or telephone/whatsapp to: +34 669738192 / +34 665093992