Backpacking through Hoyamoros…

Deep into the heart of the Sistema Central Mountain range of Western Spain lies a premier climbing destination known as Hoyamoros. With the highest concentration of world-class bouldering on the planet, the Iberian Peninsula is a must visit for thrill-seekers.

In October of 2023, I set out on a backpacking trip with two friends of mine (Alex Levine and Jim Martin) to traverse this expansive area and take in its wild beauty.

After arriving in the small village of Candelario (pop. 907) and loading our 60 pounds of gear and 50 pounds of crash pads onto our backs, we were off.

Rolling green pastures with grazing cows made up the first 2 miles of our trek. At approximately 3000 feet, the scenery changed drastically. Dramatic glacial cirques and boulder fields became visible, as our hike suddenly turned into a mountainside scramble. A few hours later, we arrived at the valley, setting up camp in a flat space of grass, just a short distance away from a flowing river.

While the temperature started in the mid 80’s, it quickly dropped as we gained elevation, and the sun sank further into the horizon. As nighttime fell, the temperature had declined into the low 30’s.

Luckily, we were well prepared, utilizing several layers of clothing and multiple sleeping bags to stay warm. Despite the cold, this trip made for several of the most memorable nights of my life.

Directly under the stars, we were miles away from civilization or even human behavior. We went multiple days without seeing another person, living vicariously in the wilderness. The absence of light pollution created the most incredible night sky I have ever seen. Looking back on it is slightly hard to even believe. Thousands of stars lit up our field of vision, with the vibrant band of the Milky Way shining above us.

Each day, we found new bouldering problems to conquer, climbing a variety of granite slabs, overhanging faces and vertical walls. With over 1000 routes in the valley, there was no shortage of climbs for us to attempt.

Alex Levine, a good friend of mine and an advanced climber, was our guide throughout the week, safely navigating us through our climbs.

With every sunrise came a new and exciting adventure. Totally disconnected from the outside world, we lived in the moment, enjoying the beautiful natural landscape. Whether that was bathing in an alpine pool, filtering the river for clean drinking water or waking up to the sound of the wind, I thoroughly enjoyed every second.

I wanted to capture this experience in its most raw form, but I had no electronics or cellular devices available to use. Instead, I brought my 1971 Canon FTb film camera and a roll of Ilford 35mm Black & White film. These captures sum up my week backpacking through Hoyamoros.

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