The main goal for me will be a route called Rabada Navarro, named after the climbers who claimed the first ascent of the West Face in 1962. The West Face was originally thought to be un-climbable and is still considered as a serious challenge reserved for experienced climbers. In 2009 a route on the same West Face named Orbayo, was dubbed as possibly the hardest big wall free climb in the world. Orbayo shares the same final pitches of the route we will be climbing. Rabada Navarro consists of 25 pitches (rope lengths) and is 750M (almost half a mile) of vertical climbing. The summit stands at around 2500M above sea level and can be climbed from the North, East, South and West faces. There is also a strong possibility that there will be an attempt to climb a route on every face by members of our group, including myself.
All those statistics sound impressive and in truth scare me to death when I read them, so why do it?
On the 24th of March 2013 I was a complete novice, with only 3 days climbing under my belt. I had a dream of helping myself and others who suffer with mental health issues through climbing. I started the Climb Out Facebook page and the Climb Out blog. I needed a big goal so I declared that in 2014 I would make an attempt on Salathé Wall, a 900M big wall route up El Capitan, in Yosemite U.S.A. This was an attempt to inspire myself and anyone who was willing to listen to my delusions of grandeur.
The more I began to understand about climbing the more impossible this task became. In hindsight this was always an unrealistic goal but the idea served it's purpose. I've carried on climbing, the Facebook page recently reached 250 likes, the blog over 2000 views and now Climb Out has a website with over a 1000 visits in just a few short weeks.
Personally I'm continually thankful for everyone who has the patience to climb with me, especially Rob and Henry Jenkins for taking a complete stranger under their wing. Although I suspect it was only because I kept feeding them various types of Pork. Climb Out owes a huge debt to Tom Ireson for his continued support and positivity when I was unsure if this project was a good idea.
After coming so far we can't let ourselves and everyone else down, the original Climb Out idea of attempting a big wall in 2014 is on.
Below are a few questions you may be asking.
Why climb Naranjo de Bulnes when most people have never heard of it?
It was my mate Tom's idea, Naranjo de Bulnes isn't very well known outside of Spain but it's steeped in climbing history. According to many climbers/mountaineers it's reputation for long, hard, exposed routes are deserved and rival many mountains in the rest of Europe.
Is it dangerous?
I've never climbed a big wall so I can't really answer that. I'm sure all big wall climbing can be dangerous but so is driving to work on a motorway at 70mph.
Why do you want to climb a big wall?
There are too many reasons to post here. I want to try something challenging and adventurous. I want to see places I only ever watch on T.V. but this takes commitment and as they say "if it was easy ... everyone would do it". I also set a goal in 2013 which I didn't truly believe I would ever be capable of ... I want to prove myself wrong!
Do you think you will be able to climb Rabada Navarro?
Probably not ... the reality of what I'm getting involved in scares me in all sorts of ways. Andy Kirkpatrick once said "don't trust your brain, it will play tricks on you". As he's one of the U.K.s most accomplished mountaineers I will try and follow his advice and ignore my brain. Luckily for me this shouldn't be too hard to do.
Will you need a high level of fitness and ability?
Without doubt ... Rabada Navarro can take anything from 8 -12 hrs to climb and a lot of the climbing is well beyond my current ability! I'm really not sure if I'm capable of this route but I've started walking with a 20k rucksack on everyday. I'm also intending to start climbing some long mountain routes in Wales once I get over a slight wrist injury.
Will you need a lot of equipment and rope work skills to climb this route?
Yes ... I'm under no illusions, at the moment I probably don't even posses 10% of the knowledge I'm going to need to climb this mountain. I will be relying on the good will of people teaching me as much as possible over the next few months. Then while I'm in Spain I'm sure I will be relying heavily on all my friends in our group to teach me more.
Is this attempt being sponsored for charity?
Not at the moment but I'm not against the idea if anyone has any thoughts? I'm doing this for many personal reasons and to have a climbing adventure with good friends. A very important factor for me will be raising awareness for people with mental health issues through Climb Out. Hopefully we may inspire a few people along the way to get outdoors and go for a walk, a bike ride or dare I say it? Get out and climb a mountain!