Posted on: September 15, 2006

On August 13, the Basque brothers Iker and Eneko Pou managed what they propose may be the most difficult multi-pitch free climb in the world. The brothers first established the route via aid on the west face of Spain's most famous big wall, Naranjo de Bulnes, over four days in July. After a week's rest, they began trying to free the six-pitch climb. The crux came on the first pitch, a thirty-five meter roof that they climbed without bolts. The remaining pitches are characterized by minimal bolts as well. The brothers placed a single bolt on both the second (5.12b) and third (5.11d) pitches. The fifth, a fifty-five-meter 5.13a/b, went with only eight bolts. After freeing all the pitches on August 13, Iker proposed the grade of 8c+ (5.14c) for the route, Lurgorri (5.14c, 250m), which would make it a candidate for most difficult multi-pitch route in the world.

The brothers Pou, who wrote an eight-page article, "The Brotherhood," in Alpinist Issue 11 that describes both their relationship and their climbing efforts, are currently attempting to free at least one big wall on each continent. In 2003, Iker nearly flashed the third free ascent of El Nino (VI 5.13c, 29 pitches) on El Capitan, and in 2004 they made the first free ascent of Bravo les Filles (V 5.13d, 600m) in Madagascar. In 2005 they made an ascent of Eternal Flame (VI 5.12c A0, 900m) on Pakistan's Trango Tower (6239m), though, like the other aspirants before them, they failed to free the route in its entirety. Their other free routes on Naranjo include Quinto Imperio (V 5.14b, 500m), which they freed earlier this summer, and Zunbeltz (V 5.14a, 600m), which they freed in 2003. No word yet on what they plan for Antarctica.

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