Ascent of Pico Pienzu on 2011-08-13

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Geoff Pettengell
Date:Saturday, August 13, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Pico Pienzu
    Elevation:1160 m / 3809 ft

Ascent Trip Report

I climbed Pienzu with Geoff Pettengell, the day after our Torre de Cerredo ascent – quite a contrast! The obvious trailhead is El Fitu (N43.43922 W5.19341) – a popular viewpoint with a refreshment kiosk. Parking could be a problem, although there was plenty of space at 3pm this Saturday pm (sunny although there was some cloud obscuring views when we arrived). The signboard indicates there is a marked trail to the summit (in fact there is no waymarking although the path is mostly obvious).

The trail starts at the signboard, and heads initially along the R (N) side of the ridge, passing a few plaques and (at the start) a small building, locked and fenced, apparently ecclesiastical in nature. The trail crosses a col and heads along the L (S) side of the ridge. Before the next col, a large water tank is passed – the first of several water sources – it is not a dry hill, except underfoot.

At the W end of the ridge the path descends half-R to cross a grassy col (cattle and horses), passes a ruined building then (just L of the path) a small locked refuge, Cabanas de Bustaco (N43.42741 W5.22782, 667m). The path climbs half-L into scrub then bends L and traverses a scrubby slope with a valley to the L. At the top it emerges into a large area of pasture (more cattle, horses and sheep) and passes a water trough. Two paths can be seen, as expected from the map on the trailhead signboard, one climbing R towards a high saddle, the other zigzagging up towards the summit. We take the direct path. It becomes more vague but it is easy terrain – if in doubt just head straight up.

The summit is marked by a rather tatty trig pillar and an imposing metal cross made of metal latticework. The cross is decorated with various figures and plaques, also with various comms antennae; there is also a comms building. The view is excellent: to the N the coast is just below; SE are the Picos de Europa dominated by the hard-to-climb Pena Santa and, farther back, yesterday’s summit, the Picos highpoint Torre de Cerredo. To the SW are the less rugged Cantabrian hills. Geoff was in his Walshes and headed rapidly down the steep grass. I followed a little more sedately in my trail shoes, grabbing a few photos. On the way back, we headed straight over the first hill on the lower ridge, but the descent is quite gorsy. The geology is quite mixed – the main summit is mostly limestone but this ridge seems to be granite. We are back at the trailhead in 3 hours (1h30 up, 0h30 at the summit, 1h down) – a more relaxed excursion could take well over 4 hours.

We'd had the summit to ourselves apart from 2 other walkers and a distant runner. The lower ridge is a very popular, very scenic easy walk.

Pienzu photos

In the evening I enjoyed a celebratory meal in Infiesto with Geoff, Joy and young Josh, after two successful and very different ascents. The following day I bagged another nice P600 summit, Alto de la Canada on the way back to Madrid.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:609 m / 2007 ft
    Extra Gain:14 m / 49 ft
    Distance:10 km / 6.2 mi
    Route:East ridge
    Trailhead:El Fitu (pass by mirador)  579 m / 1900 ft
    Grade/Class:YDS 2
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:1 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:1 Hours 

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