Tag Archives: Hiking in the Pyrenees

Hiking in the Pyrenees

Already enjoying another great summer in the Pyrenees

Summer is back in the Pyrenes and there isn´t a better way to welcome it than going hiking.

These first weeks of the season we are walking surrounded by white snowed peaks and colorful flowers on green meadows, by semi-frozen lakes and strong flowing streams and waterfalls, and seeing butterflies and lizards that enjoy the heat of the summer sun up in the mountains.

The mountains lways look fantastic at the start of the season, and we’ve great expectations of another great summer season on the Pyrenees.

If you’ve already booked your walking holiday in the Pyrenees you’re in for a treat. If not we’re here hiking all summer – come and join us and discover these stunning mountains!

Walking in the Ordesa National Park

Three ways to explore Ordesa National Park

The spectacular canyons of the Ordesa National Park contain some of the best hiking in Spain. Its kilometre deep canyons are carved out of the limestone and have awe inspiring cliffs.

Hikes range from gentle walks in alpine meadows with the cliffs towering above you, to tough trails following narrow ledges high in the cliffs. There’s something for everyone in Ordesa!

The park is a UNESCO world heritage site due it’s biodiversity, and you’ll find the rare bone eating lammergeier here as well as ancient beech forests, beautiful orchids and lots of endemic flowers species.

Let our local guides show you the best Ordesa has to offer. We’ve three hiking holidays based in the Ordesa National Park – Canyons of Ainsa, Discover Ordesa and our Ordesa Self Guided itinerary. All have excellent hotels and each explores a different area of the park.

Read our full guide to walking in the Ordesa National Park.

With so many choices, you’ve no excuse not to come and discover the delights of Ordesa for yourself!

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Hiking Portalet Pyrenees

First hike of the New Year

At the weekend Ruby and I headed out for my first hike of the New Year from the border at Portalet. The weather was beautiful – cold but with clear blue skies and sunshine.

El-Forato-Peak

The peak of El Forato with the Sierra de Partacua in the background

As long as you don’t want to ski we’ve had brilliant weather over Christmas with three weeks of sunshine and warm temperatures – we even had a barbeque on the 28 December!

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Crossing the Aneto Glacier with Aneto in the distance

Aneto 3404m – The heighest peak in the Pyrenees

At 3404m Aneto is the highest peak in the Pyrenees with Posets at 3371m and Monte Perdido 3355m being the second and third highest. Neither Phil or myself (Hannah) had climbed Aneto before so in July this year we both set a date for the adventure.

We had a great time hiking into Refugio Renclusa where we spent the night before then setting off at 4:30 in the morning (!!) for Aneto the following day. We reached Aneto summit at 9:20am and the views were amazing!

Phil and Hannah - Hike Pyrenees guides on the summit of Aneto

Hannah and Phil on the summit of Aneto

After leaving the summit it took us a further 4 hours to get back to our car. Although we only covered 13km, due to the technicality of the day, that 13km took us just over 10 hours!

We both felt immensely proud of our achievements and the greasy burger and chips we each had back in Benasque village tasted delicious after such a big day.

Refueling back in Benasque village before driving home

Refueling back in Benasque village before driving home

Since that adventure, we have now written a blog article where we share with you what equipment you’ll need, where to stay and hints and tips for success. Click on the link below if you’d like to read it.

Climbing Aneto;  A practical guide

Being my last season here at Hike Pyrenees I was really pleased to have reached the summit of Aneto, a mountain I have wanted to climb for some time.

Thanks Phil and here’s to the next adventure!

A view of the Sierra de la Partacua on day 2

Village to Village – a self guided adventure

One of our many holiday options here at Hike Pyrenees is to explore the Pyrenees at your own speed with one of our self guided holiday options. We introduced the first of these holidays to our itinerary back in 2012 – Village  to village self guided, which is in the Valle de Tena.

The Church of Santa Elena which you can visit as a 'side trip' on day 1s hike.

The Church of Santa Elena which you can visit as a ‘side trip’ on day 1s hike.

During these 6 days of hiking you get the chance to journey between small mountain villages discovering new places each day at a speed that suits you. What’s also great is that there is a harder and easier level of difficulty hike to chose from everyday so the itinerary is suitable for many abilities.

Being a self guided holiday, you can start this itinerary on a day that suits you, we can also shorten it slightly if you have less than a 6 day window in which you’d like to hike this route.

Looking across Ibon de Piedrafita; the final day's hiking option

Looking across Ibon de Piedrafita; the final day’s hiking option

When you arrive with us here in the Pyrenees you will be met by one of our qualified guides who will talk you through the itinerary, answer any questions and put your mind at ease. You will be given a set of detailed route cards and our own Hike Pyrenees village to village map. You’re luggage is transferred safely for you each day and you’ll hike with a day pack only – bliss!

Our village to village hiking map

Our village to village hiking map

7 years ago, we knew we had a designed a good holiday but waited to see what you all thought of it. I can say it has been a thorough success! Here are just a few guests thoughts on their village to village holiday…

Beautiful vistas and charming villages – each day was a new challenge with a fantastic reward. A true vacation and a great value – thank you!
Michele, Village to Village, September 2017.

A superbly organised holiday that enabled us to walk the most fantastic areas of the Pyrenees. Our walking holiday from booking, transfers, hotels, meals and walks were efficiently and professionally arranged.
Richard & Alex.

Well organized, absolute breathtaking scenery, professional logistics.
David.

Walking Village to Village in Valle de Tena provided a great introduction to the Pyrenees as well as opportunities for enjoyable social interaction with our fellow walkers.
Ian & Anne.

We couldn’t have been more pleased with Hike Pyrenees. The hikes were gorgeous, the villages beautiful, hotels lovely, food delicious! Everything was well organised even better than we´d hoped for.
Ellen & Jack.

Our first evening all together

Hike Pyrenees 10 year anniversary week

They say that time flies when you’re having fun. Well, Hike Pyrenees is now in it’s 10th season of running hiking holidays in the Spanish Pyrenees, and those 10 years have flown by very quickly! To celebrate this, we put on a special hiking holiday, based in the lovely medieval town of Ainsa, for those that had been with us before. The result was the Hike Pyrenees team being joined by 24 familiar faces for the week. Many of whom have been on multiple holidays over the years and all of whom we would definitely consider to be good friends.

Whilst we have often visited Ainsa with guests, normally for a meal out during our Discover Ordesa weeks, we hadn’t used it as a base for a whole week before, so Hannah and I (Ken) spent much of the week before researching suitable hikes with the aim of being able to offer either two or three different hikes each day. It’s a tough job researching hikes, but someone has to do it!

Our first evening all together

Our first evening all together

With hikes, restaurants and logistics all in place, there was nothing to do but to let the week unfold. It was great to see so many familiar faces around the dining table on the Sunday evening.

On Monday, we kicked off the hiking, with Phil and Javier taking one half of the group a little way south, to the Castillos de Samitier. This walk gave everyone fantastic views of the high mountains to the north, as well as passing two beautiful chapels and the ruins of ancient Moorish castle towers. Meanwhile, Hannah and I took the rest up to Plan, from where we hiked up to the stunning Ibon de Plan, nestled in amongst the high Pyrenean mountains. That evening, we were treated to a buffet dinner, with local wines, at the local delicatessen. Part the way though the evening, Joe, Madaline, Paul, Barbara, Cathy and Bob burst into song with their own version of ‘There’s no business like show business’, which they had been working on for some time. Their rendition was entitled ‘There’s no business like Phil’s business’!

The following day, Phil visited the Anisclo Canyon. The Anisclo Canyon is an impressive water-worn canyon that runs 22km south from the Collado de Anisclo. Hannah and her team visited a waterfall and swimming hole in the Valle de Sieste, south of Boltana, and I took our team to the eastern flanks of Cotiella, where we hiked up to Refugio Armena and back. We dined in Hotel Sanchez, in the new town that evening.

Wednesday saw us all hiking in the Valle de Pineta. Phil and his team headed up to the Cascadas de Lalarri, whilst Hannah and I took our team from Espierba, up onto the broad ridge above, where we eventually joined the GR11 and made our way to the Circo de Pineta. I took a small team up Comodoto 2361m en route. The vistas from the ridge were nothing short of spectacular, with the steep cliffs of the north face of Las Tres Marias and Tres Seroles dominating our views.

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Kicking off the 2016 season with a delicious meal in Ricon el Montañes.

Hike Pyrenees, season so far…

We kicked off our 2016 hiking season 6 weeks ago with a superb meal in Ricon el Montañes in Biescas.  Since then we have welcomed, explored and shared the Pyrenees with many new as-well as familiar faces returning for their second, third or even fifth holiday with us!

Lakes and Valleys, 29th May – 5 June.

A superb first week with the early spring flowers still making an appearance. We also encountered some patches of snow which added an extra enjoyable element to our hikes!

Valle de Tena Explorer, 5 – 12 June

This week we welcomed Terry, Cathy and Clare back on their second holiday with us. They along with others explored the Valle de Tena, we even sneaked over the border for a day hiking in France.

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Foz-de-Salinas-Hike-header

Foz de Salinas hike, a day on our Riglos and Alquezar holiday

Anne, Andy, Anthony, Karl, Annabel and Robert are this week our guests for a new edition of our Riglos and Alquezar holiday. It is the second year we run this holiday and, after a first group in April, this week our new guests are enjoying the atmosphere of several small and untouched villages of the Pre-Pirenees as well as beautiful hikes under a rather warm and sun shining weather.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to be with the group for their 3rd hikes in the area of “la Foz de Salinas”, where Phil guided us on some very pleasant and quiet paths.

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Hiking on our new self guided itinerary in Guara Natural Park

The self guided season has started earlier than previous years in Hike Pyrenees: our firsts guests has already arrived and are walking on the beautiful paths and tracks of Guara Natural Park!

Before they came, we double checked the route directions we had prepared for our new Villages of the Guara Natural Park self-guided holiday. These routecards are booklets with maps, directions and pictures that we give to our guests in order to make their navigation easier for each of their hiking day.

Phil taking a picture for the routecard of Lecina to Paules de Sarsa itinerary.

Phil taking a picture for the routecard of Lecina to Paules de Sarsa itinerary.

The  last route we checked was a relatively short and easy hike between the Villages of Lecina and Paules de Sarsa, two very quiet and remote villages in the most rural part of the Park.

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High on the Faja Pelay

The Pyrenees through September

September here is a beautiful month. The villages are winding down after a busy August and we start waking up to fresh crisp mornings. The leaves on the trees start to change colour and the hill sides turn a mixture of orange and red. We’ve even had a dusting of snow on the higher peaks.

Below is a selection of photos from the guided holidays we ran through September -

Discover Ordesa

We had great week hiking with the Ordesa crew with fresh snow on the tops of the mountains, my first sighting of a wild boar whilst out guiding and an ideal location for final drinks of the week! Thanks for coming guys!

Valle de Tena explorer

A great team from many corners of the world and a few familiar faces too. We explored the abandoned villages of Serrablo, rang the bells  on our Santa Erosia hike, reached the tops of some impressive peaks and even spotted a snake which had managed to elude us for many years. Read our blog about the snake we spotted here

A bespoke 8 days of hiking

We welcomed Carolyn, Bill, Dave, Deb, Isabel and Drew from New York to the Pyrenees with a personalised 8 day itinerary taking in both the Valle de Tena and Ordesa as well as local wine tasting and tapas evenings. Many thanks to the 6 for their company!

Peaks and Passes

and finally… It had to happen, our last guided holiday of the season. We had some amazing views from some of our highest guided peaks in the area and went out with a bang summiting the highest of these on our final day – Pico de Bacias 2760m

Mountaineering in the Pyrenees: 25 Classic Mountain Routes

Not only do I enjoy long and strenuous treks in the high mountains, I enjoy mountaineering in almost, if not all it’s forms, from bouldering, through to sport climbing, ski touring, alpine climbing, and climbing in the Greater Ranges.  Enjoying all these disciplines generally mean a number of things, including:

a) the next trip is always planned
b) day’s off are spent doing more of what I love
c) new guidebooks to an area I frequent excite me

Here, in the Spanish Pyrenees, one of the trickiest things when it comes to climbing and mountaineering, is finding information for particular routes and areas, as the information (route diagrams, photos and descriptions) might be found hidden on a blog somewhere on-line, in a routes book in a local bar or cafe, in a guidebook, which may be out of print, or through word of mouth.  It’s a very different story to back in the UK, where every mountaineering and climbing route can be found in up to date and by and large, easy to get hold of guidebooks, normally without fail.

I was therefore quite excited to see that Vertebrate Publishing had recently translated into English ‘Pyrénées, les plus belles courses’ by mountain guide François Laurens.

None of the routes mentioned in the guidebook are new, far from it, but up until now, much of the information for these 25 mountaineering routes, only really existed in French or Spanish, and whilst there will be plenty of you who are reasonably handy when it comes to understanding either of these two languages, mountaineering descriptions can often use very specific terms, for which the exact translations may prove crucial when actually trying to follow the exact line when out in the mountains, so an English guidebook is hugely welcome.

The 25 hand-picked routes, many of which are ridge traverses and rock climbs span much of the Pyrenees, although are largely concentrated to the higher, central Pyrenees (Aragon on the Spanish side, and the eastern end of the Pyrenees Atlantiques, Haute Pyrenees and Haute Garonne on the French side).   The format for each route description will feel very familiar if you’ve used the more well known guidebooks, for the Alps, by the same publisher.  For those that haven’t, fear not, this guidebook is very easy to use, unlike many of the older, monochrome (and out-of-date) guidebooks available for the area.

The descriptions start with the essential facts: starting points, difficulty, timings, best time of year, required gear and first ascensionist, followed by a brief history of the route, before giving a detailed description of the route, and just as importantly, the decent.  Coloured photos and topos and maps are used throughout.

There’s no doubt, that this guidebook gives an inspiring selection of some of the classic mountaineering routes in the Pyrenees, however, I do have a couple of thoughts:

Firstly, the guidebook is quite francocentric, with only a fraction of the routes being easily accessible to those on the Spanish side, of which all bar one are in the central and eastern parts of the autonomous community of Aragon.

Secondly, the Pyrenees cover an enormous distance and area, and to have only selected 25 routes for such an extensive range seems like a slightly wasted opportunity to open up what are some of Europe’s most beautiful mountains to the rest of the world.

Gudiebook Mountaineering in the Pyrenees

Refugio Larry (24)

Snowshoeing to Refuge de Larry, Aspe Valley

This week we took advantage of the perfect weather in the Pyrenees to accomplish a project Phil had in mind for many years: an overnight snowshoeing trip in Aspe Valley, staying at the remote – but cosy! – Refuge de Larry, an unwardened mountain hut run by French Pyrenees National Park.

Gustavo, Phil and I headed out for two days and hiked in some valleys that were new to us and showed us the great variety of landscapes and environments of this hidden corner of the cordillera.

Last pass before the end of the first day trip

Evening light as we reach the Larry area

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Abrigo de Chimiachas

Cave paintings at Alquezar

Cave paintings dating back to 3000-8000 BC and fossilised animal footprints from 33 million years ago made a this hike at Alquezar feel like a trip through time. The Sierra de Guara in the Pre-Pyrenees has loads of history as well as some great hiking, climbing and canyoning.

Vero Canyon

Views into the Vero Canyon

The day started with a stop at Abiego to see the fossilised footprints. There’s a stretch of rock about 40 metres wide and a couple of metres high criss-crossed by footprints. It’s amazing to contemplate their age and how we can still see them today.

Fossilised footprints at Abiego

Fossilised footprints at Abiego

Next we headed into Alquezar for a quick look around. It’s a beautiful village. It’s winding streets and arches are overlooked by the church of Santa Maria which used was originally a moorish castle dating back to the 9th century. Most of the existing church and the village is 16th century.

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Refugio Respomuso in the beautiful Circo de Piedrafita

Hiking the GR11: A Practical Guide

I’ve just finished putting together a guide to the GR11. The GR paths are a network of extensive paths that criss-cross Europe, mostly in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain.  Here in the Spain, GR stands for ‘Gran Recorrido‘ and here in the Spanish Pyrenees, we have a number of these GR paths linking key settlements, passes and valleys, but perhaps the most challenging and impressive of these GR routes and the one that many of our hikes are based around is the GR11.  The GR11 stretches the entire length of the Spanish Pyrenees, from Hondarribia, on the Atlantic coast to Cap de Creus, on the Mediterranean coast, and covers a total of 840km, which is divided into 46 day long sections.

The guide can be found here: Hiking the GR11: A Practical Guide

 

 

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Discovering Ordesa

Things are now quietening down now for our season here in the Pyrenees, and last week, we ran our final Discover Ordesa week.  For those seeking a bit more peace and quiet in the hugely popular (and rightly so) Ordesa & Monte Perdido National Park, mid-September can prove to be a fantastic time to visit, particularly as we can drive into the main car park in the National Park, known as the ‘Pradera’ (during the peak season, there is a compulsory shuttle bus service from Torla to the Pradera). Continue reading

Looking at the improbable Faja de las Flores

Guiding the Faja de las Flores – Ordesa

The Faja de las Flores is a spectacular high level walk which traverses the northern cliffs of the canyon along a weaker sedimentary layer which is in-cut. ‘Faja’ means girdle in english and the faja paths in Ordesa traverse different parts of the canyon at varying levels. Due to their nature, the faja paths are fairly narrow and a head for heights is often needed, particularly on the Faja de las Flores which is 1km above the valley floor!

This week I had the pleasure of guiding Sean and Sue along this famous route. The weather was perfect; cool in the morning for our monster ascent from the valley floor and beautifully clear skies for fantastic views.

Sean and Sue on their way up to the start of the Faja de las Flores

Sean and Sue on their way up to the start of the Faja de las Flores

On the way up there are 2 sets of ‘clavijas’ to tackle (iron pitons placed in the rock to help on steeper sections), and about 1000m of ascent to do.

Once at the start of the route it looks as if there is no place for a path but as you get closer the eroded band shows itself and you can see it winding it’s way along the cliff face.

Once on the narrow traverse path we took our time, enjoyed the views and cautiously looking down at the valley floor.

At the other end of the traverse we we’re able to get great views of  the ‘Breche de Roland’ and the ‘Tres Serols’

We had a great day up there and after 17 km and 1150m ascent and of course descent we were all pretty tired but very happy, especially once the G&T was served!

 

A view of the Sierra de la Partacua on day 2

Some more photo’s from our recent hikes in the Pyrenees

As mentioned previously, it’s been a busy start for Hike Pyrenees and there’s more than one camera here at  HQ. So here’s my favorite photo’s from the season so far from the dual level hikes in the Valle de Tena and Ordesa. With wild flowers in abundance, vultures dominating the sky and beautiful scenery, it’s hard to know which way to point the camera!

Hiking in the Valle de Tena -

Views of the French Spanish Border from Collado Pacino

Views of the French Spanish Border from Collado Pacino

 

Hiking in and around Ordesa -

Views from the summit of Pelopin 2007m

Views from the summit of Pelopin 2007m

Summit of Pic Peyreget

A great season so far…

Well, the 2014 hiking season here in the Spanish Pyrenees is well and truly under way, and despite the occasional late afternoon thunderstorm, things have been ticking along nicely.  Our self-guided holidays are proving to be as popular as ever, with about half of the guests hiking the 6 day Village to Village Walk in the Valle de Tena.  Other guests have explored the Ordesa Valley, Camino de Santiago and other spectacular areas of the Valle de Tena.

It’s also been busy on the guided holidays.  We’ve run a few more dual level holidays this season, allowing walkers to choose between gentle and more strenuous walks, both in the Valle de Tena and Ordesa, on each of their 5 days, giving them the opportunity to enjoy a diverse range of environments, from flower filled meadows through to rugged high mountain terrain.  Highlights have included hiking the Faja de Pelay in the Ordesa Canyon, visiting the Ibones de Arriel above the GR11 and popping over the border to walk in the French Pyrenees.

Phil has also run a new walking holiday this season, in the Western PyreneesThis holiday is split between  the two beautiful villages of Ezcaroz in the Valle de Salazar and Erratzu in Baztan, and is aimed at those looking for relaxed days in the mountains.   Many of the guests on this holiday had hiked with us before (mostly on our Lakes & Valleys holiday), and were looking to explore the Pyrenees further.  Phil will be running this trip again in September.

We’re also all looking forward to running our Refugio Week later this month, which tackles the highest peak in the area, Monte Perdido, which at 3355m, looms over the head of the Ordesa Canyon.

Punta Cochata

Punta Cochata (1901m)

Snows melting in the Pyrenees and I was out hiking today in the Valle de Tena with a friend Gustavo. We chose the peak of Cochata which sits in the middle of the valley with great views in all directions.

Although not high it’s quite a rocky peak and looks as if it’s hard to climb but there’s a fairly easy route to the summit – you just need to use your hands in a couple of places.

Punta Cochata

The peak of Punta Cochata in the Valle de Tena

First marmots of the season where spotted and there were plenty of burrows. Winter wasn’t cold and I think the marmots will do well this summer with plenty to see.

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Ordesa Valley

Thanks for a great summer

Phil, Anna, Ken & Hannah would like to say a big thank you to all of our guests that made this summer such an excellent and memorable season for Hike Pyrenees. It makes our hiking a pleasure when we’ve such great and friendly guests – we hope you enjoyed the hiking as much as we did! We had some fantastic holidays in the Valle de Tena and Ordesa and I thought I’d put up some of my favourite photos of the season that will hopefully bring back some good memories for our guests.

Jon hiking on the Faja Racon in Ordesa

Jon hiking on the Faja Racon in Ordesa

Some of the highlights were two groups summiting Pico Posets the second highest peak in the Pyrenees and an ascent of Monte Perdido in June when there was still a huge amount of snow around.

On the summit of Monte Perdido (3355m)

On the summit of Monte Perdido (3355m)

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