Among the peaks surmounting the altitude of 2.600 m or reaching nearly this height and thus belonging to the highest summits of Cordillera Cantabrica and Picos de Europa, the twin peaks, Santa Ana Occidental and Oriental (west peak and eastern peak) are the lowest with 2.601 m / 2596 m.
Picos de Santa Ana are located in the southern part of the Macizo Central or de los Urieles, just a bit north of the mighty and wellknown Peña Vieja and clearly outrivaled by this broad peak and its amount of visitors.
But this seems unfair to me. Both Santa Anas look more elegant than broad Peña Vieja. They, too, have an impressive perpendicular west face down to La Vueltona and the Hoyo Sin Tierra, adorned with pinnacles and needles, among them the dominating Aguja de la Canalona. The normal route is as difficult as Peña Vieja normal route (which means: a simple hike with some scrambling in the end), the summit view is great and there is this very airy summit ridge traverse from the east to the west peak……….
Together with Peña Vieja the double Santa Anas can be part of a nice round trip when starting from El Cable, the mountain station of Fuente Dé cable car. More demanding are the ascents from Bulnes / Refugio de la Vega de Uriellu (1,5 days) or from Pandebano parking area and Refugio de la Vega de Uriellu (one hard and long day possible), alternatively from Espinama or Sotres via Vega del Toro and Refugio de Aliva (1,5 days).
By combining some of these different routes, Picos de Santa Ana can be part of an interesting traverse within Macizo de los Urieles.
Getting ThereFuente De / El Cable trailhead
The trailhead is at El Cable, the mountain station.
The cable car schedule and prizes can be checked here . Please take into account that the cable car starts in may and june not earlier then 10 a.m. (which is a pain in the …). Be early in july and august because each cabin can take only 20 persons and there will be a huge line of waiting people.
You can walk to El Cable from Fuente De as follows:
From the parking area follow first the trail to the Collado and Vega de Liordes to the northwest and north, crossing some meadows. At a trail junction take the right hand trail (the left trail, PR-PNP 25, goes to Vega de Liordes via Canal de Embudo) in northeastern direction. At the second switchback of this good and obvious trail and about 400 m of altitude above Fuente De an unmarked path leaves the trail to the left. Follow this path, the good trail ends at a Majada below the cable car.
The cairned path winds itself up to the Canal de la Jenduda, a steep chute with scree and one short climb, secured with a rope. Ascend the chute to the Jou de Lloroza a bit west of El Cable. Turn right and ascend on a foot path to the dirt road between El Cable and Refugio de Aliva.
Bulnes, Sotres and Pandebano trailheads
From Arenas de Cabrales follow road number AS-264 to Poncebos.
El Cable route
From El Cable follow the supply route in northern direction to Horcadina de Covarrobres. This is the joint route to Refugio Aliva, too.
Take the left hand road at the Horcadina, which leads in northwestern direction to La Vueltona and the Horcados Rojos. Where the road turns left follow the marked trail to the right. At about 2.200 m altitude and after some switchbacks you reach a trail junction below Aguja Bustamante. The left hand trail goes on to Horcados Rojos, indicated in yellow painting on a rock – poorly visible (june 2012). The unmarked right hand trail goes up to Collado de la Canalona. At the Collado turn left and follow the unmarked trail in northern direction to Collado de Santa Ana. Work up the northeast ridge which has a short nice and easy scrambling part at its end (about 50 m of altitude). You stand now on Pico de Santa Ana Oriental (2598 m).
Espinama – Refugio de Aliva route
From Espinama follow the road of the valley of Rio Nevandi up to the Invernales de Igüedri and to the Portillas de Boquejon. Stay on the road, crossing Campojito, Majada de las Llavias and de Espinama. At Campomenor take the left hand road to Refugio de Aliva.
From the Refugio take the route in northern direction, traversing the east slopes below Peña Vieja to the abandoned Minas de las Manforas. Ascend the Canal del Vidrio and the col between Coteras Rojas and La Garmona.
Leave the trail where it is best to work up the huge cirque between Peña Vieja and the Santa Anas. Aim off-trail round Coteras Rojas to your left for the Collado de Santa Ana – there may be some foot tracks. Use the northeast ridge for the ascent of Santa Ana Oriental.
Bulnes – Refugio de la Vega de Uriellu route
From Bulnes follow the marked trail in southern direction up the Canal de Balcosin and the Canal de Camburero to Las Traviesas and the Jou Lluengu. Ascend steeply to the Refugio de la Vega de Uriellu (Refugio J. D. Ubeda).
From the Refugio ascend in southern direction under the west face of Picu Uriellu / Naranjo de Bulnes to the Jou Sin Tierra and to Garganta de los Boches. After the Garganta you reach the Jou de los Boches below the Horcados Rojos. Stay left / east of the Jou and look out for an unmarked trail which climbs the west and southwest slopes of Los Campanarios to the Collado de Santa Ana. Ascend the north ridge to the east peak.
Sotres – Vega del Toro route
From the Invernales de Cabao parking area near / below Sotres follow the dirt road along river Duje to Vegas de Sotres / del Toro. At Piedra Llé you enter Cantabria. After about 1,5 km take the right hand road which leads up Llomba del Toro to Refugio Aliva.
For the summit ascent, see the Espinama – Refugio de Aliva route description above.
Pandebano – Refugio de la Vega de Uriellu route
From Pandebano parking area follow the trail in western direction up to Collado Pandebano. Go left (southwest) there to reach Majada and Refugio de la Terenosa. Follow the trail in southwestern direction to Collado Vallejo and cross Canal de Vallejo. Ascend to Canal de la Celada and to Refugio de la Vega de Uriellu.
From the Refugio ascend in southern direction under the north and west face of Pico Uriellu / Naranjo de Bulnes to the Jou Sin Tierra and to Garganta de los Boches. After the Garganta you reach the Jou de los Boches below the Horcados Rojos. Stay left / east of the Jou and look out for an unmarked trail which climbs the west and southwest slopes of Los Campanarios to the Collado de Santa Ana. Ascend the northeast ridge to the east peak.
The short but very airy connecting ridge from the Santa Ana Oriental to the Santa Ana Occidental is about UIAA grade II to III. Just follow the sharp ridge crest or a bit on the north side.
Pico de Santa Ana Occidental
You can summit the west peak from the Collado de Santa Ana by traversing the north slopes of the east peak up to some slabs below the connecting ridge. Scramble up these slabs to the upper east ridge of the west peak and to the summit (UIAA grade I).
West face to Pico de Santa Ana Occidental
This red ridge named Espolon Rojizo comes down from the west peak to the Jou los Boches. So the best trailheads for this route are Pandebano or Bulnes via Refugio de la Vega de Uriellu. A descent from Collado de Santa Ana is possible, too.
It is a climb, rated UIAA grade IV to V by Robin Walker (see the Maps & Guide Books section).
There is a ski tour route from El Cable to the Collado de la Canalona, following the summer route, and another ski route starting from Invernales de Cabao to Vegas del Toro and ascending via Valle de las Moñetas to Collado de la Canalona.
The east summit of Picos de Santa Ana can be climbed with skies from these routes via Collado de Santa Ana and the northeast ridge.
Red Tape & Accommodation
Picos de Santa Ana are part of the Parque Nacional de Picos de Europa. The entrance is free. I did not see any special restrictions for visitors and even the official internet site does not show any.
Tents are allowed in the National Park above 1.600 m height one hour before sunset until one hour after sunrise.
Potes and the Espinama valley with Fuente De has many hotels, self catering holiday houses and campground facilities to offer.
You find likewise accommodation at Bulnes, Sotres and in Arena de Cabrales and the surrounding villages.
Refugio de la Vega de Uriellu (Refugio J. D. Ubeda)
Refugio de Aliva
Refugio de la Terenosa
Refugio Cabaña Veronica
Gear & Mountain ConditionsThe Picos de Santa Ana can be climbed nearly the whole year round.
For good hikers with some scrambling experience the normal routes are open from early summer to late autumn / early winter, depending on the snow conditions.
Climbers may find good rock conditions during the same period.
The normal routes need full hiking gear and the ability to cope with UIAA grade I rock.
The rock climbing route needs full climbing gear (UIAA grade IV to V).
The ski, snowboard or snowshoe touring during winter and spring need full avalanche and winter gear and a good knowledge of the actual avalanche situation.
Current Weather for Potes:
Mpas & Guide Books
The best topographic map of the region I know:
Picos De Europa, Macizos Central Y Oriental (Los Urrieles y Andara) MM001, Central and Eastern Massif - Topographic Walking Map, scale 1 : 25.000, Adrados Editions
For more information see the Adrados website (only in Spanish).
A good hiking map, not too detailed but sufficient for hikers:
Parque Nacional de Picos de Europa; 2 Mapas Excursionistas, Escala 1 : 40.000, Macizo Central y Oriental; Macizo Occidental; Editorial Alpina
Standard guide book in English:
Robin Walker: Picos de Europa, Walks and Climbs, Cicerone guide
Spanish publications and more maps can be purchased in the towns and villages round the Picos.