The two Belgians and multi-pitch specialists Siebe Vanhee and Séb Berthe sends the extremely difficult and psychological multi-pitch route „Rayu“ on the Peña Santa de Castilla in the Picos de Europa in August. As expected, in one day and on the first attempt. It took them only 7 1/2 hours to get through the wall. In the process, the 11th pitch could be climbed through as a crux pitch in flash mode after Siebe narrowly failed in the onsight attempt and marked the holds. Both climber graded the route with 8b+.

Photos: (c) Frank_Kretschmann

Siebe Vanhee: Then the nerves kicked in and we had a decision to make; “Who would go first?”. We both felt that we had a chance to give the pitch a good flash burn but we were doubting about our skills to send this pitch first go without any chalked holds or marked footholds. I decided to go first. I knew my chances to flash the pitch were lower than Sébastien’s. I gave it a solid onsight go but fell in the upper crux. I took my time and figured out the beta, marked all the holds to give Seb the best chance for a flash.

I came down and Seb was on! He blasted through the lower crux, fought through the middle crux and stayed calm in the last traverse. FLASH! He did it, I was super psyched! I couldn’t wait to give it a try myself now. I was so confident. I went for it, clean and perfect climbing while surfing on the sending vibes, brought me to the anchor. A big scream of joy was accompanied by Seb’s load laughter and some more people at Refugio Vega Huerta celebrating with us. It was 5pm and we continued to the summit. We reached the summit at 7:30pm and descended the North side of the mountain.

Climbing hard multipitches in a “one day – first day” push is exciting. Seb is the master in this style and I loved to take on this challenge as well!

Big thanks to Kico, Iker and Eneko Pou for this amazing line and sharing logistical information with us. It’s been another great classic in the Pico’s.

Séb Berthe dazu bei Instagram: „@siebevanhee and I had a great climbing day on Pena Santa: we both sent the 14 pitches of the route on our first day on it, leading the crux pitch and swapping leads for the rest of the pitches.

I could even had a perfect no-fall day, flashing the crux pitch (pitch 11) thanks to Siebe who chalked the holds and found the betas.
Flashing multipitches and bigwalls is a complex and demanding game that I particularly enjoy. Having the real opportunity to give a flash attempt on hard multipitch is rare and priceless!

We were quite efficient on the first adventurous 10 pitches despite the tricky terrain (first ascentionists made it right putting bolts only when you can’t protect on gear).
At around 2pm we were at the base of the crux pitch (graded 8c). Of course, we knew that the real game was just about to start and we could both feel the pressure going up. Siebe went first, giving me the chance for a flash attempt.
Here is what happened in my head when Siebe joined me down at the anchor after his solid first attempt in the 8c pitch:

„My turn! I feel stressed but psyched. Motivation between us is high and Siebe ‘s proud try makes me want to fight hard. I start climbing and I can feel his strong support, stronger than ever before. I’ve the feeling he wants it as much as I do. I struggle in the first crux, breathe, I struggle again in the second crux, focus, I climb well in the third one, shake my pumpy forearms. The final long crux is above me: I know exactly what to do and I go for it. Close call: I almost missed the hold, Siebe is shouting at me! Now I am fighting for real, three more moves! Two. I shout myself, hard. One. Elbows are high, I manage to stick the final hold, in extremis! I can’t believe I am still on the wall, clipping the chain of what I would call a nice “flash- team effort”. Happy, proud and grateful.
Thanks to Siebe, who quickly followed me and sent the pitch on his solid second go!“

Thank you so much to @hermanospou and @kico.cerda for the amazing route and style.“