Picos 18/08/2010

The alarm went off at 9 am and we got up and got packed.. We had breakfast then said good bye to Brian and Paula as we set off for the picos. The route was three corners of a square and some of it was extremely slow as it was very windey. We eventually got to Potes and got some food. For our trip then pilled up at the bottom of the cable car at fuente De. Instead of taking it up this time we walked up 2 hours straight up to 1966 metres. It was 29 degrees at the bottom but it got to 14 at one point as we walked along, through the goats deer and horses. Finally the jernosa refugio was in sight after two unsuccessful attempts we made it on the third one. We had a beer and stowed our gear and waited for dinner. We got talking to an austrian woman and a hot air balloon pilot. Dinner wwas intersting but filling with an onion filled with fish at one point. But the chocolate dessert was quite special up a mountain. We did not stay up long after dinner we retired to our bunk room up some particularly perilous stairs.
Alarm went off at 7.30 AM and we were down for breakfast of coffee biscuits bread and cake. The Austrian woman had already set off up the difficult climb, but we were reluctant to follow as the top was covered in mist. It didn't take us very long to get lost on the easy route anyway this added quite a few hours too our day which was not a bad thing as we still got to our final destination before 6pm. There was a little shock early on when a deer set off an avalanche and I got hit on the arm and watched a bigger chunk of rock go past my face but luckily I was not evven bruised. We were reaquainteed later in the day with the long windy road we had come to love last time in the Picos and we followed that back past the little hut that had been part of a ship. We didn 't stop there but followed the route of the previous year backwards to the hut above the clouds via some rather strong cable, it was much easier to get up that cable than it was to get down it but we managed ok. At the hut it was packed again but a lot of folks were camping. We had some cans of drink and freshened up as best we could without showers, our austrian friend had made it safely to the hut as well. It was a good meal in the evening with spaghetti soup to start with then pasta then meatballs finished with fruit cocktail and cans of beer and café con leche. We didn't stay up much after dark though.
Up at 7.30 am and breakfast was coffe, biscuits cake and mini toast. Off quickly with our jackets on to skirt round the big cliff behind the hostel were already some folks were climbing with a very yappy dog. We let some climbers with kit go paast us while we took our jackets off and the proceeded to scramble up a challenging chimney while they took the easy route round. We got up that then found ourselvves in a giant bowl,, we tried to find a route through but eventually backtracked and found the route on the left it looked to steep to manage but as we got closer it looked just about manageable. We did it, it took a long time and at no point did I feel comfortable the footing wasn't good and you were often on hands and feet. No relief at the top as it was as steep down the other side. Made it very slowly hand hold to hand hold or sliding down on my bottom were necessary was relieved to get to the bottom of that stretch. Had certainly been breathing hard in the heat. At the bottom met the only two walkers of the day on the same route as us. We pushed on then for some distance till we came to the final approach to the hotel we had stayed at before. I though we had avoided the really scarey bit, but in fact the windey route led to the scary bit. I could noy find any alternative so unpacked my rope and wrapped it around my waist in case it may have come in handy. Then with the utmost caution edged my way forward on the very narrow path down with a rather scarey drop, there were not many footsteps taken that didn't also involve me leaning into the rock just in case, then when past this bit and to thee cave it was time to slip slide down again as best we could all the time trying not to think about the consequences of one unintended slip. I however keept moving forwar at all points though my beathing was rather laboured and when I did get down my mouth was completely dry. But after all this we were back early so we headed for the chairlift rather than the hotel. Was very grateful to have two cokes at the cable car restaurant. Got in the cable car and at the bottom we met the austrian and the ballon man who had climbed down the cliff. We had a slow journey back roumd the windey roads but had a good stop for cokes and ice cream and a later one for beer. When we got back to the flat we had beer and pizza and then watched the movie sexy beast with ray winstone.
Up about 9.30 am chopped wood for John then went on a five mile run that was incredibly hard for some reason. About three john drove us back to the airport at santander.