The Picu Urriellu, or Naranjo de Bulnes, has one of the most recognisable silhouettes of the Spanish geography. An almost rectangular summit that it is over two and a half thousand meters high and to which, as the climbers say, it is a complete challenge to climb. We have no doubt about it!
Given the figures of other peaks, it might seem that its height is not so much. But not everything is a matter of meters you know: its peculiar morphology has made the Picu a kind of symbol for all those who like to climb mountains. And besides, of course, it has its own history.
It turns out that the vertical walls of the Naranjo had always been considered unassailable, unapproachable, impregnable and all other adjectives that you can think of that kind. That’s the way it was even for all the bipeds and chamois of the area, and lasted until Pedro José Pidal, Marquis of Villaviciosa, got the crazy idea that he wanted to put his Royal feet on the top of the Colossus.
It was the summer of 1904, and although it seems like only the day before yesterday, it was the prehistory of mountaineering. Now try to imagine a Marquis with canvas shoes ordered for the occasion, and a shepherd, Gregorio Pérez el Cainejo, who was barefoot. Both are crawling through impossible walls with a rope that, yes, Pidal had bought in London and was the star element of the expedition. An insane climbing that, today, we still find hard to believe.
They reached the summit the 5 of August, drank a bottle of wine and then wondered how to get down the abyss they had just climbed. But in a somehow incredible way, they saved the situation and survived to tell the story. It would take three decades for two granddaughters of Gregorio to become the first women to admire the landscape from the top of the fearsome Picu. The first, a certain Maria, who climbed without strings or any Gore-Tex. And a week later, her cousin Teófila, who was just 15 years old.
If you are not a climber and what you’d like is to contemplate the mountain and breathe clean air, do not worry; you have also come to the right place. The village of Bulnes, which until not long ago could only be reached by a path, is now joined to the plain by a funicular that makes things infinitely more comfortable. From the village, you can see the picture of the Naranjo and enjoy the beauty of the Asturian Mountains.
And by the way, about the name of Naranjo, you should know that it comes from the Naranco term, which in turn comes from the term Nora which means fountain. Just like the one next to the base of this mountain.