Viuet – Roca Caliente en los Pirineos

OK – did anyone guess right? After much forecast-searching and head-scratching on a rainy morning in Alto Mijares we set the controls of Rockaroundtheworld for the Heart of the Sun – at least according to Meteoblue. Pyrenees, here we come. As well as an encouraging weather outlook, we were also motivated to put Helen’s Christmas present to use:

(… and before you accuse me of spoiling her, Costa Blanca climbs was Christmas 2020!)

The sun came out somewhere around Zaragoza and Los Mallos de Riglos were shining brightly as we sped past Huesca, aiming for El Pont de Suert on the Aragon / Catalunya border.

Snow by the side of the road as we neared the campsite and an overnight low of -5C had us doubting our strategy, but we needn’t have worried – it was toasty once the sun had a chance to do its stuff.

Viuet is a North-South oriented fin of rock, clearly visible from the main road from El Pont de Suert to the French border, and only 5mins from our campsite. There’s climbing on all sides, so you can seek or shun the sun as appropriate, with around a hundred routes in all (mostly 6s and 7s with a smattering of Vs) up to 40m.

The small South face was the obvious place to start (we were definitely seeking the sun and too late to make much of the east-facing sectors).

Sunny S Face with a Catalan couple doing one of the Vs on the arete.
Pata Negra, 6a+ and excellent
Jabugo, V+

Plenty of sun on the west face by now,

and we arrive beneath Pikochus, 7a, to find the Catalan just lowering off. “Guapa?” I ask? “Muy Guapa, but I don’t think it is 7a like it says in the book…” (Great, I think, no harm in a soft touch…) “,… it is harder”. (Bu@@er!but I can hardly change my mind now)

It’s a huge pitch, a good 30m+, and it’s certainly guapa (beautiful) and stiffens up considerably after it splits out left for the last few bolts and heads for the left of the obvious small roof. It’s just shy of vertical, so you have plenty of time to contemplate the “no holds” at the crux before concocting a sequence out of what little there is – happily my recipe worked.

Buoyed by that success, we wandered over to the west face of the North fin. It looks much smaller, but actually still has 30+m routes. However, apart from heightwise, it doesn’t measure up to the South fin – the rock quality is not as good, the “lines” are much more contrived, and it’s clearly less travelled.

Perhaps it’s just newer, and will scrub up with use, but for now I’d chalk Asereje ja Deje, 7a, down as the second worst route of the trip to date (needless to say I was nowhere near!)

Anyway, the east-facing walls look worth a return visit when it’s a bit warmer.

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