Author: Leopoldo Faria, Spain
Free Ascent of "Quinto Imperio" 550m 8b Naranjo, Spain
The main goal of our trip to Naranjo de Bulnes was to free climb "V Impйrio" - 550m 8b, a route that represent one of the most dificult big wall climbs in Spain, that was opened in 1996 by the Portuguese climbers Francisco Ataide and Sergio Martins and that just knew one free ascent by the Pou brothers. We wanted to change that, so on the August 22 we start the three and half hour walk to the Refugio at the base of the wall.
It was our first time at Naranjo and it's one of the most impressive limestone walls that I've ever seen, orange and grey colours on a super solid rock that offers a super technical climbing with not so easy protection.
Because we just only have a week and the weather was very unstable, we decided to go straight to the route. Being our first time in this wall, we didn’t really knew what kind of conditions we were going to found, so we decided to take food and water for two days ascension.
On our first day we just could free climb the first 6 pitches (half route), not being very hard, almost all of them offer good moments of excitement with lots of air and exposure, some times in very pour protections. Like Primo on the second pitch, taking 20 meters falls and passing trough me flying at the belay, one of the best moments...
On the second day the weather conditions were not very good, with lots of clouds and wind, we couldn’t even see the Refugio at the base of the wall, but we decided to have a try on the 7th and hardest pitch at least to see if we had any chance. I’ve started to climb passing quickly by the first section, a easy crack with good cam protection, and suddenly the holds were gone, it was the boulder section that Francisco (who opened the route) told me about, I’ve stayed on that almost blank section for at least 30 minutes till I finally found a way, 15 moves on micro crimps in a very technical and balance climbing that make your finger tips cry.
After solve all the boulder moves and get in touch with the upper exposure part, we get excited and completely forgot about the weather that was getting worst and the 300 meters of rappelling that separate us from the base camp. After a few more tries we were really close to free that pitch but then a thunderstorm came in and the weather start to worry us, it was time to go down! An ice and rain storm pick us on the first rappel and we could enjoy all the water that falls on you coming from a big slab above your had and turning the rappels in serious submarine experience.
After a rest day and with a two days window of good weather, we lived for one more attempt. Wend we get at the 7th pitch the wall was already at the sun turning impossible to climb it. We waited till the shade came in again that’s a few minutes before it turns dark but it was enough to one more try that turned to be the good one. After that we preferred to celebrate on a small ledge under that pitch and live the easier and more exposed pitches for the next day, that way the next day, we could enjoy the impressive and beautiful view that this majestic peace of rock have to offer!