Basque climbers Eneko and Iker Pou have made the first free ascent of Marejada Fuerza 6 A4/500 m, on the West Face of Picu Urriellu, also known as Naranjo de Bulnes, in the Picos de Europa alongside Mallorcan climber Neus Colom. This latest ascent is the sixth route on Picu Uriellu to be either first freed or established by the brothers.
The route was boldly opened by Jose Manuel de la Fuente and Manolo Gonzalez over 9 days in the summer of 1985 and until now had not seen a free ascent in the past 31 years. Following intense preparation this summer, the trio of climbers completed the 500m line crossing the imposing West face of the Asturian mountain in 12 hours.
Fixed protection was few and far between on the climb and often in poor condition due to age, resulting in a serious undertaking with potential for large falls with uncertain consequences.
Particularly difficult and exposed were the following pitches:
- 2nd: 7c free with broken rock and a single fixed bolt.
- 3rd: 8a+ free or A3 in artificial aid climbing. Only two fixed bolts.
- 5th: The most dangerous with a difficulty of 7b+ in free or A4 artificial. Only two fixed bolts and the most risky as a climber falling near the belay would hit a ledge below and injuries could be fatal. Given the exposure of this section, the brothers remarked that the artificial grade should have been even higher.
- 6th: 7c in free or A3 in artificial climbing. Three fixed bolts.
Eneko and Iker add Marejada Fuerza 6 to their list of previous adventures on Naranjo de Bulnes, a mountain which they consider a 'reference point' when making first ascents around the world: El Pilar del Cantabrico 8a+/500m in 1997 (A3); Zunbeltz 8b +/ 500 m in 2003 (A4, still awaiting the first free repeat); Quinto Imperio 8b/ 500 m in 2006; Lurgorri 8c+/ 500m also in 2006 and their most celebrated first ascent of Orbayu 8c+/ 500m in 2009.