Idolized by all climbers, their ascents have been told as great heroic deeds. But from that moment onwards, things have changed and anyone with good physical conditions can reach this summit by its easiest faces. From these points we can enjoy an inimitable sensation. Our sight from here is unique and we can see all the Astur coast, Torrecerredo, Peña Santa and a bit further, a very rugged slope of limestone.
The mount Naranjo of Bulnes or Peak Urriellu is a mountain with many angles just located in the middle of the peaks of Europe.
It has a height of 2,519 metres and its summit is one of the most famous for the Spanish mountaineering. On the western face of this big mountain there is a vertical wall that reaches a diameter of 550 metres that is, especially famous for expert climbers.
This place is full of peaks that give us the sensation of an abysm or precipice. By the South face, the easiest, there are 150 metres of climbing within reach of all public.
The fact that we can today reach the Peak Urriellu without too many obstacles, is due to some native climbers who put their knowledge to the service of all new climbers. In the Active Tourism Agencies we can meet qualified people and expert climbers who will help us in the ascent and descent of this mountain. In order to complete this ascent, we need two days because it is necessary to spend a night in a shelter down the Peak Urriellu.
In these days this mount has been climbed by all its faces, but it is still the most famous in this region. All its faces have at least a difficult route more or less attainable except for the Western Face. For climbing this face we need a high degree of physical conditions.
Since Luis Martínez, “El Cuco”, died on this western face in September 2nd, in 1928, there have been many other people who have died trying to climb it. Overcoming this face supposes a great conquest, overall in winter time.
Ascents to Picu Urriellu
In August 5th, 1904 Pedro Pidal, marquess of Villaviciosa and Cainejo, a shepherd, inaugurated the ascents to the mount Naranjo. Their ascensions were full of obstacles but finally they reached the summit by the North face, called since then, Via Pidal. Doctor in geology and expert German climber, Gustav Schulze, was the second in this ascension in October 1st in 1906. This was also the first solitary ascension.
In March 8th, in 1956 Ángel Landa from the Tourist Alpine Group of Baracaldo and Pedro Udaondo from the Mountain Group Juventus of Bilbao reached the summit for the first time in winter conditions. In August 21st, in 1962 the expert climbers Alberto Rabada and Ernesto Navarro ascended up to this Peak for the first time, by the difficult Western face.
In the winter of 1969 two famous Spanish climbers Ortiz and Berrio died in their first attempt to climb this mount by the western face. The mass media reported this great tragedy. In February of 1970 a new tragedy appeared in the media again. Lastra and Arrabal, other two famous climbers, were rescued from the mountain but the second one died at hospital.
At least, in the winter of 1973, César Pérez of Tudela and Pedro Antonio Ortega usually called “the squirrel”, together with Miguel Ángel García Gallego reached the summit by the western face in winter time again. After it they were received as true heroes.
This last heroic feat, the other old attempts and the deaths on the western face have built the mythical character of this mount. The history of this mount is inevitable linked to dangerous ascents. For this reason, admiring this mountain also implies admiring the wildest side of nature.
The best viewpoints to enjoy Picu Urriellu
From all the viewpoints this mount exerts a sort of imam effect over us. Its magnificent beauty is characterised by the shape of its rocks, which seem to have fallen from the sky as a rainfall. We can admire this mount from the following localities: Pimiango, Pozo of the Oración, Póo of Cabrales, Camarmeña where a monument was built on its honour, Los Callejos, from the plain mountain range of Los Carriles, from the national road, once we have passed the town of Naves, on the way to Oviedo, from the coast area of the parish of Pría, in Villanueva and from Ovio and Picones, in the locality of Nueva. From all these places we can admire this mount covered by snow, surrounded by clouds, on a light orange colour or in any other possible state.
Perhaps one of the best viewpoints is located in the small town of Asiegu. On the other hand, we can also admire the Peaks of Europe from the famous mountain range of Cuera. And also from the town of Asiegu, we can admire the orange colour of this mount in the evenings.
Photos by Anda Conmigo
Information of interestGetting to the base
The route takes an average time of about six hours. It is an excursion in the making by the central massif of the Picos de Europa.
The classic cruise to approach the Vega de Urriellu part of the mountain village of Sotres where we leave the car. From there we walked along the track leading to the winter of Cabao; after crossing the Duje river and from there up to the pass of Pandébano where the track ends and begins the path. Once on the path must go to the sheepfold of Terenosa (where is the refuge of the same name). From this area the Collado Vallejo is reached, and the path veers south. And we saw the Picu Urriellu. From there the trail ascends zigzagging up the Vega de Urriellu, where there is the refuge of the same name at 1960 meters altitude.
Back to Sotres we do it the same way.