The wild road to Picón del Fraile in Spain
Picón del Fraile is a high mountain peak at an elevation of 1.590m (5,216ft) above the sea level, located on the boundary of Cantabria and Castile and León, in Spain.
Tucked away in the Collados del Asón Natural Park, within the Soba valley, the road to the summit, also known as Las Motas, is totally paved, but curvy and winding. The summit hosts a military base of Escuadrón de Vigilancia Aérea nº12 (EVA 12) built in 1997, and many radars. The last part of the road is closed to private vehicles.
The weather on this zone is terrible, harsh and highly unpredictable. In February 2013, the road was impossible to snowplug for 40 days and the only way to reach the military base was by helicopter. The snow had walls over 20m.
The road to the summit is very steep, hitting a 17% of maximum gradient through some of the ramps. Starting at Portillo de Lunada (Portillo de Hoz), on the paved BU-572 road, the ascent is 4.5 km (2.79 miles) long. Over this distance the elevation gain is 308 meters. The average gradient is 6.84%.