In northern Spain Adam Pustelnik and Nico Favresse completed the second ascent of Orbayu (8C+/9) on Naranjo de Bulnes. Pustelnik and Favresse spent four days red-pointing the thirteen pitch route, located in Picos de Europa. The Pou brothers, Eneko and Iker, established Orbayu in September of 2009 grading it at 8c+/9a and donning it the hardest big wall free climb in the world. The route climbs the west face of the wall for over 1600 feet with five pitches in the 8 grade range.
Pustelnik and Favresse thanked the Pou brothers for their vision and efforts they put into establishing the route. Orbayu offers steep climbing right from the start, with the free crux at pitch five just right of the bolt ladder of the aid line, Mediterranean (A3). The route is bolt protected in the hardest parts with places for protection in the run-outs and as well as various copperheads, pitons and fixed nuts already in place. Midway up the route joins with the classic line, Navaro Rabada to the top with no moves over 6b. Pustelnik and Favresse gave the route an easier grade than the first ascensionists. They proposed grades for the route as follows: “pitch one at 8a-, pitch two as 7c+ after making it harder with a hold we broke, we linked pitch three and four together making it 7c, pitch five maybe 8c or 8b+ depending on your height, pitch six as 7c but it’s nice to link pitch five and six together to skip a hanging belay and from pitch 7 to the top it’s 6b or easier.” Each climber spent a day leading every pitch.
Pustelnik and Favresse had planned to continue climbing in Naranjo de Bulnes with the objective of putting up a new hard line; unfortunately, their trip was brought up short when Pustelnik suffered serious injuries from a fall and had to be evacuated to the hospital in Oviedo. Two days after their redpoint of Orbayu, Pustelnik fell nearly twenty meters when a hold broke and three pieces of gear blew. He is on his way to recovery from fractures of his sacrum, sternum and first lumbar vertebra. The two athletes hope to return to Naranjo de Bulnes when Pustelnik has fully recovered; they describe the area as “breathtaking and with fantastic rock quality and many projects waiting.”