The Cantabrian mountain range, in the north of Palencia, defines a dough of cordales of different geologic eras whose main summits appear structured and individualized within the set. The Espigüete (2,428 m), Pico Murcia (2,341 m), Peña Prieta (2,536 m) and the Pico Pumar (2,065 m) they form the most outstanding arc. The Curavacas (2,525 m) occupies an inner and isolated position, as a massive-viewpoint. This circumstance, added to its undeniable alpine values, increases the interest of its ascent. An ascent that technically is something more than a stroll costs above, but that, in compensation, reveals like no other the particular wild essence to us of the National Reserve of Fuentes Carrionas. If there is something of which it can presume Vidrieros is of a relajante and bucólica peace. The Carrión river advances a singsong water meander towards the South flank of the village and the effluvia of the uncontaminated florest are a balsam for our sense of smell; sounds, scents and sensations that ready the body and the mind to us to undertake our objective with excellent mood.
Vidrieros is the starting point to approach CURAVACAS and is located in the north of the Province of Palencia
- From Cervera del Pisuerga follow the highway that goes to Ventanilla and Santibáñez de Resoba. When arriving at Triollo, take the road to the right directly Vidrieros.
- From Guardo follow the highway C-615 until Velilla of the Carrión River. Here it divides the deflection that takes until Cardaño de Abajo. A new deflection, also to the right, leads to Triollo.
Nothing required in terms of permits. Curavacas is located within the National Reserve of Fuentes Carrionas, therefore, stricted regulations aply relating wildlife.
Two seasons to climb this mountain, it is very different wether you climb this mountain in summer or winter season:
- Summer: The summer excursion can be made from May to October , depending if the winter atmospheric conditions are anticipated or extended. The presence of the snow and the ice suppose radical changes and can turn the ascent to the Curavacas in a technical problem of first order, only indicated for able and trained mountain climbers.
- Winter: The winter season varies from one year to another. The past few years had not left good conditions for technical climbs.
Vidrieros is the last village. Our route to the top of Curavacas is through the South slopes, considered the normal route, and begins here. When transferring the limit of the houses and the fences for the cattle, the mountain appears in all its challenging splendor, without hiding dissimulation. The vision is imposing. First, the inferior part of the skirt, cover of forest; next, a naked pedregal, that is guessed lofty and interminable; and finally, the highest amphitheatre, finished off by a watershed of rocky pillars, like towers of a strength, closing the horizon. The forested section is a pleasant walk . Not in vain it is the only relatively level part of the ascent. In addition, the trunks and the branches of the trees hide, by blessed moments, the rest of the itinerary, so that we pruned to enjoy the fresh shade forgetting to us the beating that waits for above to us, when the arbustiva vegetation prevails on the arboreal one and our feet settle on the rocky place. Hundreds of ferns - green, yellow, brown and diverse materialized brushes of alpine flowers, accompany our passages as a festive courtship. Until we approach the inferior part of the loosy rock section, although the transition is not immediate; the scrubs compete with stones and the fight stays balanced during a good stretch, with equitable distribution of the space available. Little by little the slope is accentuated and our legs accuse it. But in agreement we gained altitude and our sight is high and mighty towards the south on the valley and the most distant mountains. Finally, the mineral world proclaims its dominion and it puts under us his law, that is not other than the one to force to us to throw the rest by the good ones... or the bad ones. Narrow section, the same tipe as what we would find in Picos de Europa, the rock massive kingdom of Cantabrian mountains. If the narrow gullies of the Picos, gravel stuffed unstable, are terroríficamente famous in the world of the mountain climbers by their extreme hardness, the precipice which now we faced is not indeed a timid one I imitate that it can be taken to joke. Stones and more stones, releases, slight, accumulated without firmness, force us to an exhausting dance of three passages for above and means for down when the ground yields and our own weight slide to us backwards, we want it or no. The great consolation is that what we took one hour in raising by this moving rocky place, will become when descending it in only fifteen minutes from joyful wild race at the cost of removing the gravel with our boots and causing with it the corresponding roar. When arriving at the base of the highest wall, the wide stone wall is compressed in a runner who lays way between towers and pinnacles of shady and threatening semblante. Our visual perspective is reduced, looking only at cuts and precipices. We are before the final section of the ascent, the most arduous and difficult, as much physical as technically. The neck of the runner strangles progressively until the end, and not opening the way more than a person between his collapsed flanks, moment at which it is acceded to a very small col that, of unexpected, represents the aim of the difficulties, although not of the ascent. When reaching it, we contemplated to us, for the first time, the North slopes of the Curavacas, rendered almost entirely on our feet. The horizon is opened already before us by three of its flanks. From the col the ascent continues turning abruptly to the west. The footpath, very defined, zigzags to gain altitude, always in moderate slope, which means an almost pleasant effort when comparing it with the laborious extra pulmonary ventilation to which we were condemned only minutes before in the sinister hug of the runner. A new and sudden turn, this one towards the south, meters more of hill of rocky shelves and no longer we can go any more. The cylindrical stone that indicates the summit , with its white lime covering nibbled by the inclemency, indicates us that we are in the top of the Curavacas, to 2,525 meters on the level of the sea .
DURATION & LEVEL Most of the ascent is reasonable to all the one that feels with desire to try it. It only demands good legs and a high an endured spirit for the four or five hours that will take to reach the top. The only delicate part corresponds almost to the runner who saves the rocky wall, at the end of the ascent. Here it has more of a section in which the use of the hands becomes essential to progress, without in no case it is possible to be spoken of true scaling. The strong slope and the precipices constitute a factor of risk added.
The route is strictly the same as the summer one. BUT, there are some huge quality differences:
- Equipment: even in the normal route, in a cold winter day we can easily get to -10ºC, so proper clothing and boots is strictly advisable.
- Gear: Ice axe and crampons are mandatory. It is also mandotory to have a good knoledge of the use of this elements.
- Daylight: the route is long and days are short, and therefore is very advisable an early start.
Approaching either the North or the Northeast Face is long. For the northeast face we should head up to the Hospital Col. And for the north face you can either go around the mountain for the east or for the west. This shady faces are cold and are very difficult and technical. Proper gear, good knoledge of placing rock&ice climbling protection, route finding skills and being used to runout climbing is essential.
ONLY FOR EXPERIENCED CLIMBERS !!!!
If you want to enjoy the province, these are some recommended hotels:
- In Ampudia : Posada del Abad (Inn of the Abbot) : Building of the Century XVII that by its history (it was House of the Abbot of the Colegiata of San Miguel de Ampudia), its satately bearing and its enclave, constitutes one of the most emblematic buildings of the village.
- In Palencia : Hotel Castilla Vieja : *** located in the main street of the city.
- In Palencia : Hotel King Sancho : also of ***, it is a modern building located only 200 meters from downtown.
- In Palencia : Palencia Hotel **** : it offers all type of comforts.
- (Magazine) Desnivel #194, Jan. 2003 (In Spanish) A complete guide to climb this mountain either in summer or in winter by any of its faces. A must !!!
All info gathered by: Jonás Cruces Mountain Guide & Rock + Ice Climbing Instructor This is his website: www.todovertical.com