Trip Report
OLD DOGS NEW TRICKS: RIGLOS MARCH 2012
Monday March 19, 2012 8:09pm
Looking up to the Visor (the far right concave wall) and Fiest...
Looking up to the Visor (the far right concave wall) and Fiesta de los Biceps. It follows the feint line visible to the right of the left arete.
Credit: Blakey


Old Dogs, New Tricks.

In early summer last year Bob and I dreamt up a scheme for a flying visit to Riglos in Spain; a cheap short trip that would see Fiesta de los Biceps done and anything else we could drag our bones up once Biceps was in the bag. So we sort of plumped for early March – out of season, cheap flights and cheap car hire are the norm and we reckoned on being able to do the trip for about £250 each for five days, two days travel, and three days on the rock.

While we are highly motivated blokes, nature has a way of emphasizing your weaknesses, in the Autumn I tore a lat, and in early January still couldn’t do a pull up, and Bob had an ongoing, non specific, but painful shoulder thing. My lat pretty much recovered, in time for me to get a persistent chest infection two weeks before departure. I have yet to mention Bob’s artificial hip, and that unsurprisingly we are getting on a bit, both with dodgy knees and a combined climbing age of 117. The message from our creaking bones and medical history was clear – get this sucker done before it gets too late!

Biceps is an ultra classic, a unique multi pitch 7a (5.11d in US money – I think?), a very ‘sporty’ sport route that takes the left hand side of the ‘Visor’ the steepest of Riglos’s several buttresses. Vertical for the first three pitches, the remaining five snake their way up an increasingly overhanging conglomerate face. The climbing is very pumpy, the position, rock and holds amazing. The situation is serious throughout, the bolts being quite spaced with five or six in each of it’s eight 30m pitches. Falling off the steep stuff would require some good old fashioned ‘techniques’, to get back in touch with the rock, and an overdose of Beta Blockers to calm your heart!

The journey was uneventful, a flight from Newcastle to Barcelona, followed by a four hour car drive got us to Riglos in the early evening. The most suprising thing about the place is that the Riglos sector is but one small area and there are other crags, just as large stretching away to the East and West, which I presume have been developed.
The Refugio staff at dinner. Super friendly. We never found a 'cheeken...
The Refugio staff at dinner. Super friendly. We never found a 'cheeken'
Credit: Blakey


We booked ourselves into the Refugio, a new building that can sleep 80. The staff spoke no English, and we no Spanish – at one point in the process the guardian assured us that the ‘Cheeken’ downstairs was free – something we never resolved – a loose rooster prowling in the cellar perhaps, who knows? The refugio has a bar and serves up a simple menu, just as well as the village only has one other small bar and no shop. Anyhow we got an eight bunk room to ourselves, ate our sandwiches, crawled into our sleeping bags and crashed out.

The plan was to do Biceps the next day (Friday) as we didn’t know how busy the weekend would get, so we were up early (by Spanish standards) and were at the base of the Visor in ten minutes.
Looking up the Visor, Bob approaching the belay at the end of pitch 1 ...
Looking up the Visor, Bob approaching the belay at the end of pitch 1 6a+
Credit: Blakey

We tossed a coin and Bob got the first pitch, which meant he would get the supposed crux on pitch three, a sort section through an overlap. Anyhow the first pitch wandered up the vertical base at about 6a/b with spaced (but new) bolts to a belay on the only ledge on the route. The second pitch was more of the same, but with the first bolt some distance above the belay (this was consistently the case and was a bit unsettling as an early ‘cock up’ would come onto the belay. That said all of the belays were solid with three bolts, two of which had rigs to facilitate a retreat, which would be an absolute hoot from high on the climb.

Bob in his prime was one of the UK’s great on sight climbers and is still graced with a slight physique that enables him to take his time, and look casual even on the hard stuff. Where Bob strolls, I sprint, for me it’s all about momentum; a fast energetic front crawl over the rock, while he engages in a leisurely and efficient backstroke squirting a spout of water at the seagulls. I usually arrive gasping out of breath, and he simply doesn’t.

Bob approaching the pitch two belay.
Bob approaching the pitch two belay.
Credit: Blakey

The crux overlap, (where Bob had taken up residence for a while) was solved via a good crimp, a large hold out left and a bit of enthusiastic windmilling. Bob is nothing if not supportive and didn’t laugh. If anything, the next ‘easier’ pitch, I found a bit harder, but then I was leading; a series of small crimps on a slender poorly defined pillar come groove were quite taxing and while my biceps were in clover my forearms weren’t at all happy until I reached the belay, swung around in my harness and got my shoes off.

Approaching the first crux, a small overlap. Some Spanish climbers on ...
Approaching the first crux, a small overlap. Some Spanish climbers on Mosquitos obliged with the photo.
Credit: Blakey

Bob approaching the pitch four belay.
Bob approaching the pitch four belay.
Credit: Blakey

The angle had now started to kick in a bit and looking above it got only steeper. The unique feature of the route the ‘Patatas’ were all the more apparent and about 40’ above the belay Bob began hauling on some of these enormous cobbles, held in place by a mystical glue. It’s remarkable stuff with delicate piles of pebbles on ledges glued iron hard and immovable. The geological process that fused this mud together would have been a thing to behold.

I swarmed up to Bob and joined him dangling in space at the belay (it’s not a stance cos you ain’t standing). My pitch continued up and even more ‘out’. A series of stiff locks and long reaches between big but rounded or palmy holds suited my ‘style’, again the gear was spaced out over the 30m and as ever the aerobic clock was ticking. I arrived at the belay with my forearms well worked and a bit breathless. It took me a little while to calm down. The position was now spectacular, with the cowl of the Visor continuing to rear up and out above, the lower vertical pitches began to look slabby. The Vultures were now out passing the face on rising thermals, no noise but bloody big shadows.

Bob on his way up pitch six.
Bob on his way up pitch six.
Credit: Blakey

Bob strolled up the overhanging wall, he’s got nowhere near my reach, but beats me dead on flexibility and works on the dictum that there’s no long reaches only high steps, and this with an artificial hip Hmm. I’m happy climbing tall, because I am and my knees don’t want to play a crouching game. Meanwhile, Bob sort of ‘rolls’ his way up to the belay. Anyhow we had a couple of gels, relaxed, and watched the vultures a while.

Smithy set off up the last really steep pitch, more of the same sustained pulling on a variety of Patatas, not technically demanding, well, not until you were within spitting distance of the belay and it got pretty stiff, the accumulated effect of all that’s gone before really made itself felt here and the last 15 feet seemed very, very hard. This was most definitely the second crux.

Looking down from the lip, one pitch of proper climbing left.
Looking down from the lip, one pitch of proper climbing left.
Credit: Blakey

The belay was perched on the very lip of the Visor and looking down you got the full effect of the Braille trail, marking the route down to the base. Above an easier pitch led to a transition from the conglomerate to regular Limestone. The final pitch was an unprotected romp up slabs to flat ground and the luxury of lightweight shoes and comfy socks. Heaven!

The descent follows a vauge path (small cairns) that contours North then descends a Limestone slab before cutting through some shrubs and trees, it continues north in a more defined way and leads to a prominent col with an impressive Limestone arête on it’s North side. Before you reach this an obvious climbers trail drops down to the right into the little valley. The path now quite large weaves down through the shrubbery, leading ultimately back to the village in around 40 min. It’s possible to break out right at the obvious spot to get back to the base of the route.

We took just under four hours on the route, used a 60m rope and took 16 quickdraws, far more than needed given the spacing of the bolts! There are a variety of ratings on the web, but for what it’s worth we thought; 6a+, 6b+, 7a, 6c, 6b+, 6c, 7a, 6a+, 4. We took a little water and some gels. The weather in March was a balmy 17 degrees, in summer it must be unfeasibly hot. We had the route to ourselves on a Friday, only one other party were on the wall doing ‘Mosquitos’ to the right (much easier but very worthwhile). On Saturday it was much busier with at least two parties on the route.

The Refugio is new, clean and has blankets,but you need sleeping bags. Contact details are: www.refugioderiglos.es email: info@refugioderiglos.es . The website has an English version which details the rates. There are some restaurants in the towns below Riglos ( and a petrol station that even opens some of the time). The local supermarket in Ayerbe is very, very basic.

Not rad, psyched, or honed - just doing what blokes do.
Not rad, psyched, or honed - just doing what blokes do.
Credit: Blakey




  Trip Report Views: 3,175
Blakey
About the Author
Blakey is a trad climber from Newcastle UK.

Comments
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Ian Parsons

climber
UK, England
  Mar 19, 2012 - 10:11pm PT
Excellent TR, and I feel your pain! After a long bout of inactivity I hooked up with a certain not-quite-geriatric-but-getting-there Bristolian called Martin - you and most UK climbers will know who I mean - for my first and only trip to Riglos. Sadly, Martin had been there once before and, as was his wont, had done just about everything except El Zulu Demente, another steep line up the centre of the face to the right of Biceps. I think I know who you are, and I certainly know who "Bob" is, and I'm sure you would both be well up to the challenge of climbing Zulu, or most other things thereabouts, as your introduction to the area and first route after a prolonged absence from rock. I, however, am made of less stern stuff. The first two pitches, to a big ledge on Mosquitos, were just about manageable, largely because they don't actually overhang. After that things rapidly went pear-shaped - or, more accurately, potato-shaped. French 6b isn't supposed to be that hard - except when it's Spanish, it's sustained, you're knackered, the bolts are miles apart, and the "patatas" are all big, rounded affairs that become increasingly slippery to hang onto. At one point, and in extremis, I desperately draped a sling over the only vaguely incut one within reach and hung on it for a rest; shortly thereafter I informed Mr C that if he still wanted to do this route he was going to have to lead all of it - a piece of news that he received with poorly disguised relish! After that I was just a tourist, albeit a very interested one - I've never belayed in a vulture's nest before; at least I think it was its nest - or maybe the dining room! MC flashed the final 7a+ pitch in a howling gale, of course, and we went home.

I would recommend Riglos to anyone (except, perhaps, the very nervous!) - it's a stunning place - but for God's sake get very fit before you go, or aim low!

IP
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
  Mar 19, 2012 - 09:46pm PT
wow. that pitch 6 picture sez it all
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Mar 19, 2012 - 09:47pm PT
Love to see a couple of older blokes still getting after it, Thanks!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Mar 19, 2012 - 09:54pm PT
brilliant!

and cheers!

from the yank side of the atlantic
snowhazed

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Mar 21, 2012 - 03:44am PT
get some
ddriver

Trad climber
SLC, UT
  Mar 21, 2012 - 10:08am PT
f'n super
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Mar 21, 2012 - 11:00am PT
Fantastic!
FRUMY

Trad climber
Bishop,CA
  Mar 21, 2012 - 11:05am PT
Thanks for the trip report.
neversummer

climber
30 mins. from suicide USA
  Mar 21, 2012 - 11:28am PT
Good stuff...
Dos XX

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Mar 21, 2012 - 11:40am PT
My arms hurt just reading this ;-)

Brilliant photos & write-up, thanks for sharing your experience!
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Mar 21, 2012 - 11:43am PT
Good stuff!
TradEddie

Trad climber
Philadelphia, PA
  Mar 21, 2012 - 12:03pm PT
Great report, great pictures. I have an open invite to nearby Aguero, and your report makes me even more determined to take up this invitation.

TE
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Mar 21, 2012 - 12:56pm PT
Yahoo!
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Mar 21, 2012 - 06:50pm PT
Exposure bump!
Hankster

Social climber
Golden, CO
  Mar 21, 2012 - 06:53pm PT
RRRAAAAADDDDDDD!!!!!!!!! My surface-of-the-sun HOT Wife and I leave for Spain(Riglos being the destination)tomorrow!! Thanks for the sweet TR and beta on the Refugio and this route in particular, thanks a ton!!! Soooooooooo stoked!!!

I would recommend Riglos to anyone (except, perhaps, the very nervous!) - it's a stunning place - but for God's sake get very fit before you go, or aim low!

CHECK!!
Hankster

Social climber
Golden, CO
  Mar 21, 2012 - 11:03pm PT
This guy, Carlos Garcia freesoloed this route back in the 80's and the pictures made my 16 year old head pop. I'm almost 43 and finally getting to this thing.
Credit: some Euro
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
Author's Reply  Mar 22, 2012 - 03:40am PT
I saw a photo, BITD (I think a Mountain cover shot) of a Spanish bloke free soloing it, but he had a big Rasta coloured Beanie over his dreadlocks.

I never thought then that I'd be on it this far in the future, or that there would be any holds left! (They are all 'solid' BTW).

I should also mention that the other routes on the main wall to the left, the Pison, look fantastic, not as steep as the routes on the Visor, but very compelling, and that once you get used to climbing on the 'Patatas' it gets much less intimidating.

Regards,

Steve
duncan

climber
London, UK
  Mar 22, 2012 - 04:18am PT
Fine TR. Riglos is fun isn't it?

The Alberto Rabadá on El Pison is a great introduction, 8 pitches, mostly 5.10+ with a short 5.11b ish crux, and not as steep as El Visor.



The major classics are solid, though sometimes disconcerting, and well-protected with big new bolts. I got the impression that things might get pretty darn Western pretty quickly once you went off-piste.



Old belay on El Puro.
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
  Mar 22, 2012 - 03:17pm PT
Great TR: with "a combined climbing age of 127. The message from our creaking bones and medical history was clear – get this sucker done before it gets too late!"

Funny, that's similar to the message I hear virtually whenever I think about climbing...
S.Leeper

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
  Mar 22, 2012 - 05:20pm PT
awesome tr, from another "older" climber.

Hank, r u going to BASE off the climb?
tarek

climber
berkeley
  Mar 22, 2012 - 05:36pm PT
Terrific--thanks much.
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
Author's Reply  Mar 22, 2012 - 07:22pm PT
Jeez, just had to do an edit - we have a combined age of 117, not 127! At least the edit makes us younger, not older - that would be too much to bear.

By way of apology for my poor maths, attached are two shots of Mosquitos, which goes to the right of Biceps

Looking back down to the penultimate belay on mosquitos,.At this point...
Looking back down to the penultimate belay on mosquitos,.At this point the rock turns from conglomerate into conventional grey Limestone.
Credit: Blakey


Bob engaged on the crux pitch of Mosquitos. This goes off a large boul...
Bob engaged on the crux pitch of Mosquitos. This goes off a large boulder glued to the face. Topos show an 'escapado' down and right, looks a hellish way to go to me, far more intimidating than straight on up!
Credit: Blakey

Regards,

Steve
Hankster

Social climber
Golden, CO
  Apr 1, 2012 - 10:14am PT
We just got back this morning, that route is totally boss! The whole crag is totally boss!! The(climbers)Puro Bar at the base of the climbing was super boss as hell(I drank a ton of cafe' con leche!!)
Fiesta de los Bicepes
Fiesta de los Bicepes
Credit: Hankster
Yeah, we BASE jumped it on our rest days, lot's of video..... fully f*#king boss man!!! There's also a dam nearby. Yep, we jumped that thing to and our head went POP!
http://vimeo.com/39543055
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
Author's Reply  Mar 31, 2012 - 06:02pm PT
Climbing and BASE, that is soooo to much!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
  Mar 31, 2012 - 10:28pm PT
Yikes! I want to go there and do that climb!
Hankster

Social climber
Golden, CO
  Apr 1, 2012 - 12:07am PT
Yeah, all those climbs were PG-13 bolted multi-pitch gems, totally sunny with zero hikes and a great oldschool vibe. BASE jumping did happen to be a perfect restday activity here, http://vimeo.com/39562947
Hankster

Social climber
Golden, CO
  Apr 1, 2012 - 11:00am PT
If you scroll back through the comments and look at duncans pictures of El Pison, this how close that climb is to the tiny old-school climbers bar. That rock is 1,000' tall with a sub-10 minute approach!!
El Puro Bar with El Pison in the distance.
El Puro Bar with El Pison in the distance.
Credit: Hankster
fiesta de los Bicepes
fiesta de los Bicepes
Credit: Hankster
Credit: Hankster
Credit: Hankster
Riglos Mtn. Guides Headquarters.
Riglos Mtn. Guides Headquarters.
Credit: crazy badass Wife!!
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Apr 2, 2012 - 08:07pm PT
Great reports and photos!

Wow! Oh Wow! You folks are hot!

Hankster! A couple weeks ago, I noticed you and the "hot-wife" were off to Spain at about the same time as Heidi and me. I was hoping we might bump into you and surprise the hell out of you!

Loved your photos and want you to post more too
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
  Apr 3, 2012 - 02:19pm PT
Bump.

I guess Fiesta was just Onsight Free Soloed by Honnold... Crazy!

Great TR!
S.Leeper

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
  Apr 3, 2012 - 04:59pm PT
Really? Where did you hear this? ^
hoipolloi

climber
A friends backyard with the neighbors wifi
  Apr 3, 2012 - 05:02pm PT
Love that place. Did you get a Guide Book? It is really kick ass, I look at mine all the time. Can't wait to go back one day (I was there in 2007).
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
Author's Reply  Apr 17, 2012 - 05:23pm PT
Honnold's solo is being reported here.....

http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=67050

Sheeesh!

Steve
S.Leeper

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
  Apr 17, 2012 - 06:41pm PT
awesome!
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Apr 17, 2012 - 06:55pm PT
Man oh man, why didn't I go there instead of Arco?!
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Apr 19, 2012 - 11:40pm PT
Fat Dad: RE:
Man oh man, why didn't I go there instead of Arco?!


Yeh, yeh----Arco Spain, but everytime I see Arco: I think of Arco Idaho!

Credit: Fritz

and yes there is some limestone climbing around Arco Idaho, if you don't mind the huge Nuclear Research Area just to the south.

http://deanlords.blogspot.com/2010/07/fins-east-idahos-best-limestone.html

The soft blue nuclear glow on the limestone, does make climbing at night without headlamps easier.


Maybe Arco Spain is better?

Tapas Bar fun.
Tapas Bar fun.
Credit: Fritz
Madrid Tapas bar with 1.00 Euro wine, beer, and jamon sandwiches.
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
  Apr 20, 2012 - 11:20am PT
Terrific trip report, Blakey! My heart started racing just looking at the steep. Thanks!
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
Author's Reply  Apr 23, 2012 - 03:22pm PT
This is worth viewing, I think they reference Hankster?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjLYx5Hcu8s


Apparently the photos were still there for Honnold!

Steve
cornel

climber
Lake Tahoe, Nevada
  Apr 23, 2012 - 07:59pm PT
Excellent, nice photos and good commentary..like it!
Hankster

Social climber
Golden, CO
  Apr 23, 2012 - 08:23pm PT
Yeah, it was funny to go all the way to that part of the World, get on that climb and have glossy pictures of climber faces photoshopped onto bodybuilders bodies. This pic was at the top of the 6th pitch.
Credit: Hankster
Alex said the pics were still there when did the Fiesta.
klk

Trad climber
cali
  Apr 23, 2012 - 08:43pm PT
wow, that looks killer.

i'd guess that a trip from cali is gonna cost a fair bit more than 250 of those weird british deals
Hankster

Social climber
Golden, CO
  Apr 23, 2012 - 09:00pm PT
i'd guess that a trip from cali is gonna cost a fair bit more than 250 of those weird british deals

We paid about a grand each from Colorado, and then your US dollar is worth f*#kall once you get there. But fully gorgeous!
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