Tag Archives: vacations

Quirós by drone – a visual guide to the crag

Set in a fantastic location, Quirós is unquestionably one of the best crags in the Roca Verde guidebook with a wealth of climbing across the grades on over twenty separate sectors. Historically important in the evolution of climbing in the Cordillera Cantábrica, its development goes back to the 60s and it is home to the first Asturian 8a. However, Quirós is not stuck in the past; it’s a vibrant, and very popular venue which is cared for by a dedicated crew of climbers including those from the refugio. Most of the sectors have been re-equipped with new bolts and chains and there has been plenty of new routing even in recent years.

Quirós is difficult to summarise due to the amount of climbing but several things stand out. Most prominent is the superb limestone, which, even after more than 40 years has hardly polished; then there is the variety, and although the climbing tends towards slabs or wall climbing, with fantastic examples of both, there are tufas, overhangs and even roofs! Add in a brilliant mix of multi-pitch and single pitch routes and the fact that a lot of the single pitches are of a good length and it’s easy to see why it’s a great destination.

Finally, Quirós is also very much an ‘everyman’ crag with the majority of the routes skewed towards the mid-grade climber as well as plenty for beginners and some superb, harder testpieces too.

Fraguel rock, a brilliant 6b on sector La Amarilla

Fraguel rock, a brilliant 6b on sector La Amarilla

Like Teverga many of the greatest Asturian climbers, as well as others, have left their mark at Quirós. Again the following list is probably not perfect but hopefully covers a lot of the main people: Eduardo Velasco, Francisco Blanco, Tino González, Claudio Sánchez, Javier López, Mariluz Santacruz, José Manuel Suarez, Nacho Orviz, Carlos Vásquez, José A Margolles, Plácido Suárez, José M Fernandez, Kike Oltra, Anselmo Menéndez, J Carreras, Jesús Martín, Roberto Magdalena.

Casa Quiros facilities – a selection of bikes perfect for the Senda del Oso

Just below Casa Quiros, next to the lake, runs the Senda del Oso which, roughly translated means ‘the bear path’. Now one of the most popular things to do in Asturias the Senda started life as the railway line which connected the mines of Quiros and Teverga to Oviedo. However, once the mines shut it became obvious to utilize the flattish tracks and tunnels to make a brilliant cycle/running route.

The Senda del Oso

The Senda del Oso

This route or just part of it makes great day out, either as a rest day from climbing or simply as a fun activity on its own – walking, running or biking. Obviously you’ll cover most ground on bikes and although there are plenty of bike rental companies if you rent Casa Quiros we have a selection of bikes all of which are suitable for the ‘off-road’ nature of the Senda.

Obviously a couple of these are true mountain bikes and so could be taken on some of the more demanding tracks which can be found around the house.

The bikes at Casa Quoros

The bikes at Casa Quiros

And we also have a bike with an attachable baby seat for those who bring a child under 5!

And for those who are very keen, one of the most popular events – and one of the hardest – is the half-marathon which takes places each year on the Senda del Oso. I did it a couple of years ago as my first ever race and if you’re up to it it’s a pretty cool event. It’s on 28th October this years and here’s a link: -https://carreraspopularesasturias.com/carreras/proaza/media-maraton-senda-del-oso-2020/

My first race

My first race!! – team Senda del Oso…

La Vuelta 2020 – 29th + 30th August at Casa Quiros

Ok, it’s on its way once again, and this year there are more stages than ever in the north of Spain in La Vuelta – Spains equivalent to the Tour de France. And this year there are two stages which go very close to Casa Quiros – one right underneath.
And if possible, the two stages this year are even more brutal than last years in Asturias which ended up on the Alto de la Cubilla after passing under Casa Quiros.

Stage 14
So even though this is not considered the harder of the two stages to me, knowing the climbs, it looks very, very hard. It’s also 170km long and takes in three category 1 climbs! This includes La Cobertoria from Pola de Lena (which is sooo steep) as well as then heading up San Lorenzo which is another very difficult pass, before topping off on the long grind of Farrapona.

This stage passes underneath Casa Quiros on 29th August and I’ll hopefully be riding it the day before. One thing to bear in mind is that the end of August is usually the hottest time of year in Asturias and so heat could be a factor.

Vuelta 2020 1

Stage 15
Now this stage is the one which is considered to be the one which may well decide the race as it finishes up the legendary Alto de Angliru which with it’s sections of up to 23% (and we’re not talking one or two metres either). This climb strikes fear into the heart of some of the most hardened athletes. And when it was first proposed for the tour it was said that some riders thought ‘they are trying to kill us’. However, it also makes for great drama like it was two/three years ago when Contador bowed out with an incredible stage win in his final year as a pro…

This stage is very close to Casa Quiros, starting from Pola de Laviana, about 20km away and wending its way round to finish up Angliru which is about 35km away.

Vuelta 2020 2

 

So if you fancy checking it all out Casa Quiros is not booked up for those dates at the time of writing this blog…

And if you want to see more about riding here and the Angliru in particular you can check out one of our guests experiences in this Blogpost – Angliru Blog

 

 

First Steps – Sierra de Caranga @8km…

Traverse of the Sierra de Caranga – June 2017 @8km

I was never a runner, I’ll state that in advance (and you’ll probably see by the foto).

So when my friend Tom, after a slightly heavy night, suggested a ‘quick jog’ across the prominent ridge that dominates the skyline above Casa Quiros (and on whose flanks sit the crag of Quiros), I was legitimately wary.

Hungover and aware that Tom’s idea of fun was 40km fell races I was reluctant to say the least. However, Tom, who’d come over from our old village to visit us in our new house for the first time, insisted that he wouldn’t go too fast and that the bottles of wine consumed the night before were no reason to be afraid.

Eventually I consented (still not sure why) and we set off. The first part was familiar and went OK; up the short road from the house to the tiny village of El Llano and then up the track I’d walked many times (normally with a heavy pack) up to the climbing area of Quiros. So far so good, the lack of a pack was good and the fact that runners actually seemed quite sensible and didn’t try to run up the super steep bit of the path.

As we cut up above the crag the next incline hit me a bit harder – very, very tight contour lines and about 200m of slope meant that I was reduced to much puffing and panting but at least Tom hadn’t gone off and left me. Stopping at the ridge I took in the spectacular views; there was a ways to go but I was kind of enjoying it all the same.

Just after we joined the ridge - and looking like a pro...

Just after we joined the ridge – and looking like a pro…

We moved up the ridge, the scavenging vultures (more numerous as we got towards the first mini-summit) wheeled about overhead and I hoped it wasn’t me they’d be feasting on. Luckily as we summited we had some good glugs of water and a bit less parched and headachey I got a bit of a second wind. The worst was over in terms of ascent and now it was more a case of picking the correct path along the broad ridge and making sure we didn’t fall off any cliffs.

Luckily Tom knew what he was doing and where he was going and I followed him along some, admittedly narrow, sheep tracks which skirted the steepest sections of rocky outcrops and led gently downhill to a wide coll.

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Ahead was a second peak and Tom seemed keen but I hauled him back with a lame excuse (excuse the pun) and from the coll we set off very steeply downhill on a well marked path that led to an obvious track. Tom’s pace going down was quicker than mine and my knees groaned maybe worse than on the way up and once we’d both reached the path and he was sure I wouldn’t get lost Tom slowly but sure left me behind.

I was thirsty, tired and a bit sore but it was mainly downhill on a wide track back to the village…as I cantered on I was beginning to realise I was even having fun….

Maybe, just maybe there was something in this running lark after all…

Caranga Map

The route we took and the profile – a steep start for a beginner!!

You can see the route in more detail on my Strava as well https://www.strava.com/athlete/routes?type=2

The summit of La Cobertoria...

Casa Quiros to the Alto d’Angliru via the Gamoniteiro and El Cordal – by Andy Bowie

Andy Bowie, Sheffield cyclist and visitor to Casa Quirós takes us with him on his ‘big day out’ – an ascent of the legendary Alto de Angiliru (with a bit thrown in for good measure).

Casa Quiros to the Alto d’Angliru via the Gamoniteiro and El Cordal - 110km riding and 4,200m climbing – by Andy Bowie (see linked Blog here)

The ride from Casa Quiros starts easily enough. A descent down from the village of Aciera and a left towards Barzana leads you on a gently rising drag on smooth roads ascending up through the valley. Look out for a turning c1km before Barzana on the left, which leads to The Ermita de Alba, the mountain finish for stage 16 of 2015’s Vuelta d’Espana. It is a sustained climb for six kilometres, average is around 11% and the last kilometre is a gift that keeps on giving above 17% by all accounts!

Tapping away on La Cobertoria....

Tapping away on La Cobertoria….easy to see why Asturias is known as green Spain…

The climb up to the Gamoniteiro pass slowly hits you, with the gradient lifting up after about 10km of riding. The climb is about 8km long, averaging 8.5%. Tap out a steady rhythm and take in the views – the green covered mountain scape around you is a stunning backdrop to your suffering. On this climb you start to get a sense of the trick the roads play on you – because they’re wide and smooth, they hide their angle. If it wasn’t for my Garmin telling me it was 9% I wouldn’t have believed it. Well, my legs were telling me, that’s for sure.

 

The summit of La Cobertoria...

The summit of La Cobertoria…

Crest the top after 40 minutes of climbing and you experience one of the best views in Asturias. But a bigger prize awaits –the descent on the other side of the Gamoniteiro pass is one of the best descents of my life. Very fast, big open sweeping descents, few cars – the dial rarely dropped below 70kmph. I was a giggling childlike wreck at the bottom. The only glimmer of concern was the realisation that what comes down must go up.. and the way back will be a brute of a climb at the end of a day’s riding.

Reaching Pola de Lena you follow your nose a bit through the village, dropping down, left and then left at the end of the village, on the AS-231. The road immediately kicks up – and keeps on giving for just under 6km at an average above 9%. It’s short but packs a real punch, with the last few kilometres keeping the dial well above 11%. What follows is a classic technical descent, short sharp turns, a few pot holes, lots of changes in light and shade, damp sections under heavy undergrowth and some rough surface – it focuses the mind.

After 40km of riding you reach La Vega, the village at the bottom of the ascent to the Angliru. There is a café on the right next to the turning to the Angliru (which is well sign posted). Great coffee and pinchos here if required. Re-fill your water bottles, psych yourself up and prepare for 13km of suffering.

After 40km and class 1 and class 2 ascents guess what's next....

After 40km and class 1 and class 2 ascents guess what’s next….

The first 5km or so of riding up the Angliru lull you into a false sense of security. Steady away 7-8% up a quiet road, the only thing that makes you aware that you’re on something different is the kilometre markers, telling you the average gradient, the highest gradient and how many you have left to go. There is also the looming sense of a bloody big mountain ahead of you, with no discernable way up. Not discernable until you reach the 8km to go marker, when you see the road kicking up at a crazy angle and keeps on going.

 

Stunning views and reasonable riding, Angiliru reels you in...

Stunning views and reasonable riding, Angiliru reels you in…

The final 8km are a real test of mental strength and physical capacity. There really is no rest bite from the relentless attrition. As well as the kilometre markers, there are additional signs which mark out the particularly steep sections of suffering. I wasn’t sure whether to look or not – they give an almost perverse satisfaction to letting you know how much you’re going to hurt.

Bowie 1 Angiliru IMG_6081

Do you really want to be reminded of how steep it is and how far there is to go..?

Riding in the clouds with only 20m of visibility or so I was at least able to avoid seeing what was coming ahead. The darkest moments were with about 3km to go. A viciously steep and sustained section above 20%, for what seemed like half a kilometre. My dial reached my lowest speed I think I’ve hit on a bike, 6kmph and still moving! It wasn’t just my legs screaming, my arms were in tatters from wrenching and pulling on the bars. A proper deep all over body-pump. Another few steep sections and the angle finally relents, with a rolling flat and a bit of descent before you reach the finish line. It was a finish to remember, as I crested not only did the clouds clear, leaving the incredible views of a rock amphitheatre, but a lone piper was playing the bagpipes. Surreal, brilliant, relief.

 

Victory, and blessed relief!

Victory, and blessed relief!

There are only two climbs I’ve done that come close to the Angliru. Hard Knott Pass in the Lake District in England, which is steeper in parts but much shorter. And Tre Cime de Laverendo in the Dolomites. Very sustained and at high altitude, but again shorter, and very busy.

After gathering my senses, re-fuelling and tackling the steep descent down the Angliru, the route back to Casa Quiros follows the same route. But it doesn’t feel it – the climbs back have a different feel. El Cordal is a much steadier 8km at 7%, a quiet road with stunning views back over the valley. Take care on the descent back to Pola de Lena, the steep angle and tight bends require concentration with tired legs.

The sting in the tail on the ride is the ascent back up the Gamoniteiro from Pola de Lena. This will be the second to last climb on stage 16 of the Vuelta this year. I hate to think of the speeds they will attack this. It is a savage climb – made all the harder by the ascent already in your legs. 9km at 9.7%, this is steeper and harder than famous climbs such as the Passo Giau in the Dolomites. Signs taunt you on the side of the road, with 700m at 12% a particular pleasure. Keep grinding away and eventually, after much panting, you crest the pass.

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If you have the time, and the legs, then you can take a right about 300m before the top of the pass, which takes you up to the Alto d’Gamoniteiro. This continues on for another 7km, and the overall climb to the top is a monstrous 16km at 9%.

The descent back to Barzana is a lovely end to the ride. Steep at first it turns into a gentle roll back down. All that remains is the 700m at 9% to get back to Casa Quiros, and a well earned beer…

Here’s Andy’s Strava for the route…read it and weep…or cheer!

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