5.14 Big-Wall Free Climb Sees Second Ascent
8/16/11 - Nico Favresse and Adam Pustelnik have repeated the big-wall route Orbayu on the Naranjo de Bulnes formation in Picos de Europa, Spain. Established by the Pou brothers in 2009, Orbayu ascends 1,670 feet up the wall's west face. At 13 pitches, with the crux at 5.14c/d and four other pitches in the 5.13 range, Eneko and Iker originally proposed Orbayu as the hardest big-wall free route in the world. Favresse and Pustelnik climbed every pitch ground-up in four days. "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," the pair said.
This is how the pair describes the route: "It climbs four pitches of overhang that were put up in sporty style (with bolts but at times long runouts between them [with options for natural pro]). 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 protection we used was already in place—sometimes copperheads, piton,s 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). Two additional bolts on the side of the bolt ladder protect the crux of the route, which goes free slightly right of the aid line."
Favresse and Pustelnik admits the route feels easier than what the Pou brothers proposed; they suggest 5.14b, possibly even easier for taller climbers. The pair's new breakdown: P1, 5.14b; P2, 5.13a; P3 and 4 were linked, 5.12d; P5, 5.14a/b; P6, 5.12d; P7 to the top, 5.10c or easier.
Two days after their ascent, Pustelnik took a 60-plus-foot fall while attempting a new line with Favresse; he broke a hold ripped three pieces of gear out. He sustained severe injuries, such as a broken sacrum, sternum, and L1 vertebra, but is recovering well in a Spanish hospital.
Dates of ascent: August 7-10, 2011