Roca Verde Climbing Guide Review

© Richie Patterson

Roca Verde Cover  © Richie Patterson

My memories of Asturias are strong: long, sandy surf beaches populated by locals; rolling green hills not ten miles from the coast; wide open, quiet countryside with a ruralness reminiscent of quieter parts of Provence; drinking strong cider in cider-bars in quiet country towns. And being on the wrong route on a fabulous sport crag.

Asturias is the coastal province on the northern coast of Spain. Think ‘left of France’. It’s a big holiday destination for French and Spaniards, although little known outside these two countries. While this may be true from a tourism point of view, it’s an undisputable fact when it comes to climbing. Well perhaps this is about to change.

Roca Verde is a new guidebook from British ex-pat Richie Patterson. Richie has been living and climbing in the region now for eight years and has dedicated the past few to bringing information on the local crags together into one volume. As is often the way in Spain, some of these crags were covered in small, area specific guides, and some never recorded before. The result is a book which throws a whole new climbing destination onto the table for rock-hungry Spainophiles to get their teeth in to.

It looks amazing. The action shots reveal the blockbusting quality limestone that we have come to demand of Spain – steep walls, overhangs, tufas, orange-and-blue streaks – these are all in evidence here. The routes look cool and well featured and the photos – mostly Richie’s own – make me want to be there. I must point out one thing here: the author has allowed himself the indulgence of putting an okay shot of himself on the front cover, something that hasn’t happened since Andy Pollitt’s day. But we’ll overlook that for now.

Gema Lanza climbing in the amazing Desfiladero de la Hermida  © Richie Patterson
Gema Lanza climbing in the amazing Desfiladero de la Hermida
© Richie Patterson

One thing that turns me on about the photos is the background. There’s more green around than we have come to expect from Spanish climbing settings. Trees and grass attest to the area’s higher rainfall when compared to the Costa Blanca, but all that dust down on the east side does my head in after a while. I’ll take the odd shower, especially since there are plenty of crags in this book that are weatherproof.

There’s a huge amount of rock in these pages. As well as Asturias it covers the neighbouring regions of Cantabria and León combining to nearly 3,000 routes from 2s and 3s right up to tediously-hard 9as. It seems best, in general, in spring and autumn, although lots of the crags I looked at were goers in summer and winter too.

The book itself seems to work very well. It is functional, fact and number heavy, as is the way with continental sport guides. Maps aren’t beautiful, but who cares. Out of curiosity I picked a few at random and compared them to Google Earth and they all seemed spot on. Scales would be handy, all the same. Topos are excellent, taken in great light, and serve to showcase crags really well.

One last point I had to broach with the author, was what relationship Richie had with locals. To my relief it turned out to be a constructive one. Locals were a big help and in the production and have received the guide well, perhaps helped by the fact that Richie actually lives there. This impression is helped by the fact that, going by the names at least, the people in the action photos are locals. In addition to this, Richie has pledged 20% of any profits from the book towards local bolt funds. I imagine that goes a long way to making locals happy.

So, there you have it. A new guide to a new area. Go there. Can I have my twenty quid now Richie?

Roca Verde Topo  © Richie Patterson
Roca Verde Topo
© Richie Patterson

The topo for the main wall of Ell lano, Quaros. A brilliant all-round crag with 170 routes below 6c+  © Richie Patterson
The topo for the main wall of Ell lano, Quaros. A brilliant all-round crag with 170 routes below 6c+
© Richie Patterson


For more information Roca Verde Climbing

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28 Jul, 2014
Looks great. The crag in the topo looks mighty tough, any destinations in the book for 'guffers'? Chris
31 Jul, 2014
Chris, yes there´s plenty...Quirós for example, one of the best crags in the book has over 15 sectors, and 270 routes 170 of which are under 6c+ and there are 60 below 6a. There´s a great mix of climbing, grades and route types. I´ll see if they´ll stick up another topo later for me...
31 Jul, 2014
Hi both, have put in another topo for Quiros as Richie requested. Duncan
31 Jul, 2014
Cheers guys. We briefly visited the area years ago and, despite climbing a lot better than nowadays, I recall stiff grades and struggling to find enough to do. Having said that we didn't have an up-to-date guidebook, Chris
1 Aug, 2014
I went to Quiros a few years back after bailing from El Naranjo. It was a bit of an education as Chris implies, but the climbing is great, and there is a nice mix of grades. I'm assuming the guidebook contains some info on camping? We never found a campsite there, and the only flat bit of ground we managed to locate was under a tree high on the hillside; the locals didn't seem to mind, so long as you were prepared to admit that UK cider isn't a patch on theirs... Super friendly place, and well worth a visit.
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