BD athletes Adam Pustelnik and Nico Favresse make first repeat of 5.14 multi-pitch in Naranjo de Bulnes, Spain
Black Diamond athletes Nico Favresse and Adam Pustelnik recently traveled to Naranjo de Bulnes in northern Spain. Their objective: to make the first repeat of Orbayu, a multi-pitch line rated 8c+/9a by the first ascentionists and heralded as the hardest big-wall free climb in the world. Below is their report from their ascent and pictures from Bernardo Gimenez, as well as the tough news that after their Orbayu redpoint Adam took a very bad fall while attempting a new line with Nico. Although he was badly injured, Adam is safely in the hospital and will soon be working on his recovery. Our congratulations go out to both climbers on their repeat of Orbayu and our absolute best wishes go to Adam and his recovery.
[Adam on the approach as Naranjo de Bulnes breaks through the clouds. Photo by Bernardo Gimenez]
We (Adam Pustelnik and Nicolas Favresse) are very happy to announce you that we just repeated Orbayu in Naranjo de Bulnes, Picos de Europa, Spain. We needed 3 days for Nico and 4 days for Adam (and Nico again) to climb free every pitch of the route ground-up in a day. Orbayu was put up in the summer 2009 by the Pou brothers, Eneko and Iker, and was proposed as the hardest big wall in the world with a crux pitch of 8c+/9a and 4 other pitches in the 8th grade, all blended in a big wall size rock feature.
Unfortunately last Friday, two days after sending Orbayu, Adam fell 20 meters to the ground after breaking a hold and ripping off 3 pieces of gear. We were trying to free a new line, which was the main plan for our trip. Adam is staying at the moment at the Oviedo’s hospital recovering from a broken sacrum, sternum and L1 vertebra. The project will have to wait a bit… but Adam is already in good spirit.
[Nico: "Here's a picture of Adam in his new office at Oviedo's hospital." Photo by Bernardo Gimenez]
First of all we would like to say that Orbayu is an exceptional route and we would like to thank the Pou brothers for their vision for this line and their effort to put it up. It climbs 4 pitches of overhang that was put up in sporty style (with bolts but at times long run out between them if you choose not to place extra removable protections. The middle part of the route (where the hardest pitch is located) follows the Mediterranean route, which is a A3 aid line. The last part of the route shares the same pitches as the classic Navaro Rabada route. On the crux pitch, all the protections we used where already in place. Sometimes copperheads, pitons and fixed nuts. But the hardest parts are well protected with bolts (some of them very old but many of them in a bolt ladder so even safe if one of them broke). Two additional bolts on the side of the bolt ladder is protecting the crux of the route, which goes free slightly right of the aid line.
[Nico entering the crux section of the hardest pitch while sending the route in typical Orbayu weather... note the wet slab down low. Photo by Bernardo Gimenez]
So since everybody ask us about the grade, we can’t avoid talking about it. Overall the route felt easier than its original grade. The crux pitch felt definitely easier than 8c+/9a to both of us. We both think it’s no more than 8c… maybe 8b+ if you are not short. Adam is shorter than Nico (1m66 – 1m75) so Adam had to do more complex sequences than Nico. Nico sent the route twice… the second time he linked the crux pitch (pitch 5) with the next pitch (originally graded 8a+) to avoid a hanging belay, placing the quickdraws as he went and making a mega 60m long pitch.
So this is the grade we propose for the route:
pitch one : 8a –
pitch 2 : 7c+ after making it harder with a hold we broke
pitch 3 and 4 we linked both of them together making it 7c
pitch 5 : maybe 8c or 8b+ depending on your height
pitch 6 : 7c but it’s nice to link pitch 5 and 6 together to skip a hanging belay
from pitch 7 to the top it’s 6b or easier.
[Adam in the crux section of the hardest pitch during his successful redpoint. Photo by Bernardo Gimenez]
Also we would like to say that Naranjo de Bulnes is an amazing place to climb and hang out. The rock is fantastic and the views are breathtaking.
Now we are really crossing our fingers for Adam to recover as fast as possible so that he can be back and strong as soon as possible. Many projects are waiting ;)
Nico and Adam
P.S.: Bernardo Gimenez was able to capture some images when we sent Orbayu. A possible video for Black Diamond will come up, so stay tuned…