For many years this mountain has been excluded of all the peakbagging lists due to the wrong perception of Peña Vieja as the highest point of Cantabria Autonomous Region in Spain. Just recently Torre Blanca has gained its reputation as the highest point of Cantabria
, with 2.617 meters (some mesurements give it 2.619 m), two meters more than its neighbour Peña Vieja (2.615 m). Since then, mountaineers from all over Spain try, each year, to reach its narrow top.
But, besides all its records of altittude and geographic facts, the fact of 'beeing there' (as the British alpinist George Mallory one said) makes Torre Blanca an interesting mountain by itself. Its presence in the Central Massief of the Picos de Europa is enough reference to worth the visit and try to climb its rock.
Torre Blanca is almost unaccesible
from the south. Big walls of grey limestone rise from Hoyo de Los Llagus to the very top and it is only a place for adventurous trad climbers. The north side is also impressively vertical and closes, to the south, the big 'poltje' known as Hoyo Tras Llambrión. The 500 m NE ridge, which starts at the Collada Blanca, almost gives a direct and relatively easy access to the top. But, even this ridge has some serious obstacles for the medium mountaineer and the normal route needs to lay, partially, on the easier east slope, which it is stony but avoids the huge and difficult sections of the ridge.
Once on the top one finds out that the mountain is not very prominent. Also it is noticed that many other surronding peaks are almost as high as Torre Blanca or even higher: Torre Sin Nombre (2.638 m), Tiro Tirso (2.640 m), Torre Casiano de Prado (2.622 m) and Torre del Llambrión (2.642 m)
, the second highest mountain in the whole Picos de Europa. Its top is also part of a very long ridge
which runs in SE-NW direction starting from Madejuno (2.513 m) and finishing in Torre del Llambrión, which traverse is one of the most interesting mountain activities in Picos de Europa. Maybe because these facts Torre Blanca has been forgotten for many years (even being the highest mountain of Cantabria) and it has been in the shadow of Peña Vieja
, lower, but with more presence as a single huge mountain.
From its top, with two summitpost boxes, one can take a sneak view into the real caracter of the Picos de Europa: a vertical paradise, ruge, wild and extreme.
Torre Blanca offers different ways
to its summit. The most os them are difficult mountaineering enterprises
. Many are extreme and only one is open to the medium mountaineer. This mountain, as many in Picos de Europa, is not for beginners.
The most common routes in Torre Blanca are:
- NE ridge
(with a traverse and scramble on the east slope): this is the 'normal' and easier route
in the mountain and it's considered as F
- South Face (AD): "Régil-Udaondo-Zabala"
, first climbed in 1958. Follows an easy chimney-colouir that reaches a small col from which a exposed ridge (III grade climb) to teh right gives acces to the summit. Aproximately 180 m of climb on acceptable rock. There are some loose rocks on the low sections (colouir).
- At the North face
there are not know routes.
The most easy access to the mountain is from the Valley of Liébana
, the southern limit of the Central and East Massief of the Picos de Europa. This valley is Cantabria province.
The head-village of this valley is Potes
. From Potes a road goes to the west towards Espinama and, further, to Fuente Dé, at the end of the paved road. Potes has a big bus station. From here depart bus services (not very often) that do the route Potes-Fuente Dé- Potes.
In Fuente Dé
there is a cable-lift
which rises visitors from the bottom of the valley (1.078 m) to the mountain. The upper lift-station is at 1.834 m high. The service is continuous, from the morning till the afternoon, each 10 minutes, 7 days a week. Discount for groups, and for members of alpine clubs.
From the upper station of the cable-lift (known as 'El Cable'
) a not paved road goes towards the higher mountain range in north direction. At the point the road splits, take the left branch (NW direction). The road reaches a place called 'La Vueltona'
(at 1.960 m) where it bends sharply to the left and starts to ascend. At this point the dusty road has to be left to start a stony walking path which traverses (slightly ascending) a huge scree slope on the SW side of Peña Vieja massief. The route is marked with a white-yellow paintmark (of a PR-route).
The path goes over medium sized stones but it's very well formed and progression is not difficult. At certain moment height is quickly gained due to some serpentine-bendigs near the Aguja Bustamanted. After a big climb, where the path starts to descend a bit there is a deviation to the NE which we will not take (this goes to Collado de la Canalona). We follow the most clear path (still marked with white-yellow), and we reach a split.
The white-yellow marks (PR-Path) goes to the right towards Collado de los Horcados Rojos. To the left we reach the small metallic mountain hut of Cabaña Verónica
(2.325 m). We have to walk towards this strange and funny mountain hut (the smallest guarded mountain hut in Spain).
From this point (Cabaña Verónica) the path is not clear any more and we have to follow the bearings given by the map and the route marked with cairns (sometimes too many of them in different directions!)
Behind the hut we climb towards a prominent point to the W. We descend it to the other side (still W) and discover the huge gap called 'Hoyo Senegros'. We negotiate it along its norther flank, under the southern slopes of Pico Tesorero. Here we have to avoind getting too high on the slopes of Tesorero. The easiest way to traverse this 'Hoyo Senegros' is trying to find a kind of band that keeps at the same height. This band is not at the bottom of the gap but some meters high. Here and there the sharp limestone's karst makes progress a little bit uncomfortable, but soon an easier part is reached and then Collada Blanca
(2.370 m) is gained.
Here starts the normal route to Torre Blanca
, which follows the NE ridge that radiates directly from the top.
Camps and huts
In the nearby villages there are plenty of places to stay:
- in Potes
, a village, head of the Valley of Liébana, there are many hostels, youth hostels, hotels and a camping. Potes is about 25 km away from the telepherique of Fuente Dé, the start point of all the routes in the region.
- in Espinama
, the closest real village to the lift/telepherique of Fuente Dé, there are hostels as well. I recommend 'Hostal Nevandi', which is ruled by a kind family, with good cooking, a small swimming pool, and good prices.
- in Fuente Dé
itself, at the base of the lift to the upper part of the massief, there is the 'Parador Nacional de Turismo' and also the 'Hotel El Rebeco'. There is a camping too.
There are, mainly, three maps of the area:
- I.G.N. map
of 1:25:000, the 'official' map of the 'Instituto Geográfico Nacional'
- The map 'Picos de Europa ~ Macizos Central y Oriental (Los Urrieles y Andara)'
, from Andrados Ediciones
. Excellent map at 1:25:000 (with yellow cover) of the Central and east massief of Picos, which shows hiking and mountain paths, mountain huts, hostels, caves, springs,... Perfect for trekking.
- The map of 'Editorial Alpina'
of Picos de Europa. It's on 1:25.000 and can be obtained on paper but also digitalized.
Mountain guide in the region of Picos de Europa and Cordillera Cantábrica:
Jon Sanz Mountain Guides