Alexander Huber and Fabian Buhl free "Sueños de Invierno”
Alexander Huber and Fabian Buhl free "Sueños de Invierno” (540m, 8a) on Picu Urriellu, Spain
While the first ascenders, José Luis García Gallego and Miguel Ángel Díez Vives needed 69 days in the winter 33 years ago, the German climbing duo of Alexander Huber (47) and Fabian Buhl (25) required only 9 hours: they free climbed the infamous "Sueños de Invierno” route (literally winter sleep) on the Asturian monolith Picu Urriellu – in the climbing world better known as the “Naranjo de Bulnes” – and created a sensation in the whole of Spain. This was because the time of over two months non-stop on the rock by the first ascenders is still a record to this day – no-one else has climbed for so long without a break on a rock face. The puristic protection they used contributed to the myth – apart from at the belay stations, the first people to climb this route almost completely avoided the use of bolts, which is precisely why repeats of this route are very rare. Huber and Buhl invested five days in checking the puristic route, before daring to try redpointing it on 23rd September, which they managed at the first attempt. During their climb the first Spanish media representatives made their way to Asturia, to report on this sensational ascent.
Pico Urriellu, Spain
The Picu Urriellu (2518m), better known as the “Naranjo de Bulnes”, is the most important mountain in the Picos de Europa. It is a pronounced limestone monolith with lots of climbing routes on all four walls. For the Spanish, the Picu Urriellu is equivalent to the Eiger or El Capitan – a mythical mountain with a long climbing tradition, associated with absorbing legends and tragedies. The first ascent was done on 5th August 1904 by the Spanish politician Pedro José Pidal, accompanied by the shepherd and mountain guide Gregorio Pérez Demaría, called El Cainejo. They climbed the north wall without using a single bolt on a route known today as the "Via Pidal-Calnejo". They were followed in 1906 by the German Gustav Schulze, who climbed the Eastern wall solo in 3 hours. In the sixties there were two tragic winter ascents: the first group suffered a fatal accident due to the whole belay station breaking away, while the second group froze to death after eleven days on the wall. In the winter of 1983, Miguel Ángel Diez and José Luis Garcia Gallego spent 69 days non-stop on the wall (a world record) and created the “Sueños de Invierno”, the first A4+ graded route in Spain. Since this time, the Spanish media have followed all ascents with great interest.
Sueños de Invierno
The first ascent was done by Miguel Ángel Diez and José Luis Garcia Gallego from 1st March to 8th May 1983, wall height: 540 metres, A4+/6a or, for free climbing, 8a
Photos: Heinz Zak