Wildfires burn famous climbing areas in Spain

Forest fires in Spain are destroying land and forcing residents to flee during one of Europe’s worst heat waves. More than 50,000 acres of land have been burned and the World Meteorological Organization has warned that all of Spain faces “extreme fire risk”.

America’s top climber Jonathan Siegrist posted on social media today that some of the world’s most famous climbing areas around Oliana were in the midst of these fires. Yes, fire can damage rock and material.

Via @jonathansiegrist

Hundreds of firefighters are working in several regions, in particular to control the flames. Officials in Catalonia, a popular climbing area in the northeast, said emergency services were struggling to contain more than 35 fires.

A forest fire between Peramola and Oliana has burned more than 80 hectares of woods, according to provisional data from authorities on Monday morning. The fire broke out on Sunday in the Roc de Rombau sector, located 991 meters above sea level. Famous climbs found there include La Dura Dura 5.15c, Papi Chulo 5.15, Mind Control 5.14d and Fish Eye 5.14d.

The heat is breaking temperature records with Valencia airport reporting 39C, which surpassed records set in 2017. In Madrid, temperatures are above 40C in what the National Meteorological Agency said is the first major heat wave in over 40 years.

“What we are witnessing today is unfortunately a taste of the future,” Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization, told The Independent. Johan Rockström, director of the German government-funded Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said the scenes in Europe are “the new normal”.

France and the UK are also experiencing heat waves this week. Follow Siegrist on Instagram below for updates as they happen.

Virginia F. Goins