Tag Archives: Hiking in the Pyrenees

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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Valle de Tena Explorer

This week we ran our second Valle de Tena Explorer of the season which is a new dual level week for this year. Every day there were two different levels of walks to choose from. The easier walks explored the beautiful meadows and lakes of the valley whilst the higher level walks reached some fantastic summits in the area.

There was an abundance of wild life and flora to be seen, superb views and even a spot of swimming!

Below are a selection of photos taken during the week -

On the summit of Punta de la Cochata 1901m

On the summit of Punta de la Cochata 1901m

Cobweb house leek

Cobweb house leek (Sempervivum Arachnoideum)

Enjoying the views from the slopes of Collado del Pacino

Enjoying the views from the slopes of Collado del Pacino.

A Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) circling high above us.

A Griffon Vulture (Gyps Fulvus) one of about 30 circling high above us.

John negotiating the chains on the way to the summit of Pico de Anayet 2545m

John negotiating the chains on the way to the summit of Pico de Anayet 2545m

Superb scenery whilst walking in the Valle d'Ossau in France.

Superb scenery whilst walking in the nearby Valle d’Ossau in France.

Martagon Lily (Lilium Martagon)

Martagon Lily (Lilium Martagon)

One of the still icy Lagos d'Ayous.

One of the icy Lagos d’Ayous.

Richard enjoying a swim in  in the  Rio Caldares near Panticosa.

Richard enjoying a (brave) swim in the Rio Caldares near Panticosa.

Thanks for a great week guys, we hope to see you again soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second highest peak in the Pyrenees: Pico de Posets 3375m

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Me on the summit of Pico de Posets

On the 28th July, Phil & I will be running a Tour of Posets Refugio trip (our first of two this season), which will cover approximately 94km and up to 6770m of ascent over 6 days and include a complete circuit of the second highest peak in the Pyrenees including an ascent of Posets (3375m) itself and four other three thousand metre summits.

In preparation for this, I headed over to the Posets-Maladeta Park to recce the ascent of Pico de Posets from Refugio Angel Orús, and to check the snow conditions following the late arrival of summer.   The starting point for my ‘quick hit’ saw me starting at Eriste, for the short yet scenic walk, through the impressive granitic Vall De Grist up to Refugio Angel Orús at 2100m.  The following morning, an early start allowed me to gain the snow filled Canal Fonda before the snow turned too soft, it also meant making the most of the morning shade.  Above this, the terrain was made up of broken rock and largely clear of snow, and I was on the summit by 9am, from where I was greeted with wonderful vistas of the surrounding mountains.

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Heading up Canal Fonda

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Looking north from the summit ridge

A super quick descent (of 1650m) down the westerly facing slopes ofPosets, made easier by the snow cover, saw me down at Refugio de Biados by 11:30am, where I had planned on spending the night, however, with so much of the day left, I opted to push-on and started making my way along the GR11.2, up to the Collado de Grist (2865m), from where I made the short scramble up La Forqueta and its SE summit, before making my final long descent, past Refugio Angel Orús and down to the van at Plleta de l’Estallo for 5pm, just as the heaven’s opened up!

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Looking back up the westerly slopes of Pico de Posets

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Mamot near Refugio Angel Orus

So, overall, a great outing, and it was good to explore the area in preparation for the forthcoming trip. I would still highly recommended that hikers wear stiff boots and carry an axe and a set of crampons, as particularly early on in the day, the snow will still be firm underfoot.

A Successful Refugio Week.

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The Refugio Week team at Refugio de los Ibones de Bachimala

Han & I (Ken) have recently returned from guiding the first Refugio Week of the season, which proved to be very successful, with everyone reaching the summit of Monte Perdido, which at 3335m, is the third highest peak in the Pyrenees.

For the first half of the week, we started at Sallent de Gallego, in the Valle de Tena, and walked on the GR11 alongside the beautiful Rio de Aguas Limpias, up to Refugio de Respomuso.   We made the most of the afternoon by practising basic winter skills (such as using an ice axe and crampons) up towards the Collado de la Facha on the French/Spanish border.

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The team with Pico Teberrai in the background

The following day, the team made the most of their newly acquired skills by continuing along the snow covered GR11 up the Collado de Tebarrai, from where some chose to reach the summit of Pico de Tebarrai at 2916m.  A long descent, made much easier by the softening snow, led us down to our second refugio, the new Refugio de los Ibones de Bachimala, above Baño de Panticosa.

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Les Treseroles - Cilindro, Perdido & Anisclo

For the second half of the Refugio week, by taking 4x4s up to Punta Acuta, and traversing the southern rim of the canyon then up and over Punta Custodia, we approached the popular Refugio de Goriz, at the head of the Ordesa Canyon, from where we all summited Monte Peridio the following day.  There was still a lot of snow from Lago Helado to the summit, again requiring the use of an ice axe and crampons.  The team descended from Goriz via the Anisclo Canyon. It was a great achievement by Keith, Lindsey, Carol, Michelle & Mike and we certainly celebrated accordingly!

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On the summit of Monte Perdido

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Descending the Anisclo Canyon

First Lakes & Valleys guided holiday this season

Lakes & Valleys Walking Holiday

Walking beneath the Sierra de la Partacua

It’s all go, go, go here in the Spanish Pyrenees!  We’ve had plenty of self-guided guests exploring the Valle de Tena, and last week saw the first of the guided guests arrive, on a Lakes & Valleys holiday.  The Pyrenees, along with much of Europe, has experienced a remarkably late finish to winter, which has allowed the guests to enjoy some wonderful vistas of snow capped mountains, and down in the valleys, see many flowers, such as the  Elder Flowered Orchid, that may have otherwise finished flowering by now.

Lakes & Valleys Walking Holidays

Griffon Vulture up-close

We’ve been very fortunate with wildlife sightings this week, with the above griffon vulture standing proud, just before taking off, spotted on our descent from Ibon de Piedrafita.

Lakes & Valleys Walking Holidays

Clear views across the Ibon de Piedrafita, over to Garma Negro

Lakes & Valleys Trekking Holidays

Asp viper at Llano Cheto

At Llano Cheto, alongside the Rio de Aguas Limpias, we came across an asp viper, basking in the sunshine.  The asp viper, which is venomous, grows to an average length of 60-65cm, with males reaching a maximum of 85cm, and females 75cm and can be found up to altitudes of 2600m.

Lakes & Valleys Walking Holidays

Pena Foratata in the background

One of the most popular walks during the Lakes and Valleys Holidays is the circuit of Punta Del Pacino, as it offers fantastic panoramic views.  Many guests also choose the optional ascent of the ‘punta’ itself, at 1965m, and makes for a 40 minutes or so round trip from the Collado del Pacino.

An optional ascent of Punta Del Pacino 1965m

Punta Del Pacino

Elder flowered orchids in the PyreneesI was hiking up Punta del Pacino at the weekend which is one of my favourite peaks in the valley – not high at 1965 metres but with a fantastic position right in the centre of the valley and you get superb views in all directions from the summit. The lower sunny slopes are covered in elder flowered orchids and spring gentians.

Summit views from Punta del Pacino

Summit views from Punta del Pacino

This is the view looking south west over Embalse de Escarra to the Sierra de Partacua. Still a lot of snow higher up but most peaks around 2000 metres have only patchy snow. Higher than this there is still a lot of snow – particularly along the route of the GR11.

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Hiking to an iced up Ibon de Piedrafita

Hiking to Ibon de PiedrafitaIbon de Piedrafita is in a beautiful spot under the cliffs of the Sierra de Partacua and yesterday I headed up there with Berute – a friend from the village. In summer this is a really popular walk with guests on our walking holidays but I’d never seen it completly iced up like this. It looked really beautiful and the meadows that are filled with flowers in the summer felt quite wild covered in snow.

Walking under the cliffs of the Sierra de Partacua

Birute walking under the cliffs of the Sierra de Partacua

The scale of the cliffs above is hard to visualise but when you think that the highest montain in England – Scafell Pike – could be put on top of the lake and it wouldn’t reach the top of the cliffs it puts it into some perspective!

After a really warm spell over Christmas and New Year the weather was changing and it was quite cold out. I was a bit taken by surprise how hard and icy the snow was.

Fossils in the Pyrenees

Fossilised shells - at least 40 million years old!

There is a prominent rock on the route that I find fascinating. A section has sheared off in one place revealing fossilised sea shells – since the Pyrenees last rose from the sea 40 to 50 million years ago these are some pretty old shells!

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Thanks for a great walking season

Relaxing on the rim of the Añisclo Canyon

The summer 2012 season is over and we’d like to thank all of our guests for making it another fantastic summer for Hike Pyrenees. We got up same great peaks, saw fantasic flowers and wildlife, ate plenty of tapas and had a fantastic time showing you all the Pyrenees.

Phil, Anna, Hannah and George would like to thank everybody who came to the Pyrenees this summer. We hope you all had great holidays and we’d love to see you back in the Pyrenees in the future.

On the sumit of Pico La Muga with clouds whirling over from France

As always during the summer I’ve not had time to post many pics of our adventures in the Pyrenees so I’ll be posting some of our favourite pictures on the blog over the next few weeks.

walking holidays spain

On the Faja Racon in the Ordesa Valley

Peña Roya and Peña Blanca

Sierra de TendeneraI’ve wanted to do some of the peaks of the Sierra de Tendeñera and yesterday finally got up there. It’s a magnificent 12km long ridge with imposing cliffs on both the north and the south.

Sierra de Tendenera

The incredible layers of rock of the Sierra de Tendeñera

We approached from Ibon de Asnos up the north slopes. It was pretty cold up higher and in the shade a sheen of ice still covered the rocks making things a bit slippy. The route up was much easier than I expected and the layers of folded rock were really impressive up close.

Looking up to the col where we gained the ridge

We headed to two peaks on the ridge – Peña Roya (2578m) and Peña Blanca (2556m). The walk along the ridge was superb with fantastic views in every direction. Every village in the Valle de Tena was visible and the valley looked like a map laid out in front of us.

Summit views with Vignemale to the left

Rafa descending the ridge

Raul’s a local hunter and knew a great ‘path’ down the south side – it was a brutal descent in places but lead us through limestone shelves, meadows, gorse and then down through woods of beech, rowan, pine, hazel and aspen to the church of Santa Elena.

Raul drinking from the healing spring at Santa Elena

Thanks to Raul and Rafa for a great day out.

Imprint of a fossilised shell

First walking holidays of the season

Punta del Pacino

The season is well underway here in the Pyrenees and we’ve had a couple of Lakes & Valleys guided walking holidays as well as lots of guests doing self guided walking holidays. We’ve been blessed with some fantastic early season weather with lots of warm sunny days and perfect views.

Punta del Pacino has – as always – been one of our most popular walks with it’s fantastic panoramic views from the summit.

Hiking near Panticosa

Walking in the Valle La Ripera near Panticosa

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Hiking to Pelopin (2007m)

The peak of Pelopin can be reached from the Cotefablo pass which is half way between Biescas and Torla. The pass is over 1400m so it makes a great place to quickly get up into the mountains from.

Friday afternoon I was suffering from cabin fever after a week of bad weather so I called Rafa and we headed up to Pelopin – the clouds were low and it was windy but it was good to get out and blow the cobwebs away.

Rafa crossing a small patch of snow

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Walking near Panticosa

La Ripera lies just outside of Panticosa and this week I’ve been investigating a new route in this lovely valley. Found a superb circular walk with great views across the Valle de Tena and to the impressive cliffs at the end of the Valle La Ripera. It’s a perfect walk straight from the hotel door if you’re on a self guided holiday in Panticosa or our Village to Village holiday.

Roman bridge and the Panticosa chairlift!

The walk starts at the ski station in Panticosa where you cross this beautiful old bridge that looks a little strange with the chailift crossing above it.

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Walking in the Ordesa Valley

Views into the Ordesa Valley

Walking on the rim of the Ordesa Valley

The Ordesa National Park is the oldest protected area in Spain and an undisputed highlight of the Pyrenees. The walking in Ordesa is superb with the parks dramatic canyons and three thousand metre peaks giving spectacular views.

Walking on the Faja Racon

Walking on the Faja Racon

The Ordesa Valley is the most famous of the canyons with cliffs rising over eight hundred metres on each side and Monte Perdido perched majestically at the valleys end. This valley offers walkers the most variety with a choice of routes ranging from gentle rambles to very scary cliff edge routes. Read our full article on walking in Ordesa.

Monte Perdido at the head of the Ordesa Valley

Monte Perdido at the head of the Ordesa Valley

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Ibon de la Sierra

Rincon de Balsera

The cirque of Rincon de Balsera

Explored the remote Ibon de la Sierra and was rewarded with great views and wildlife including a lammergeier, chamois, kestrels and my first marmots of the season.

It’s an area of the Valle de Tena that I’d wanted to hike in for ages but never seemed to get round to it. It’s a long walk in but really worth it as you get to some really wild valleys lying under the imposing peak of Punta Escarra.

Stemless Gentians

Stemless Gentians – one of my favourite early flowers

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Walking the Chemin de la Mature

Chemin de la Mature

The Chemin de la Mature carved into the cliff face

Walked the famous Chemin de la Mature on the French side of the Pyrenees last weekend. This spectacular path is carved into a sheer cliff face. Originally constructed in 1772 to provide access to the forests above which was logged to build ships. These inaccessible forests had ancient huge trees that were perfect for the masts of naval vessels, in fact Chemin de la Mature translates to ‘road of the masts’.

This short documentary gives the history of the Chemin de la Mature.

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Pic du Midi d’Ossau (2884m)

Near the summit of Pic du Midi d'Ossau with a sea of clouds in the valley below

Near the summit of Pic du Midi d'Ossau with a sea of clouds below

Pic du Midi d’Ossau is one of the iconic peaks of the French Pyrenees. It´s a fantastic looking mountain with rocky walls guarding each of it’s twin peaks. The ‘via normal’ is a pretty exciting scramble to the summit and another route I’ve been longing to do for ages.

Fabien at the top of the first chimney

Fabien at the top of the first chimney

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Pico Arriel (2822m)

Fabien with Pico Arriel behind

Fabien with Pico Arriel behind

Every time I open the shutters in my flat I see the Pico Arriel at the head of the Valle de Tena on the French border. I’ve wanted to climb it for ages but with the summit covered in snow for most of the year hadn’t got round to it until this week. So glad I did as it was a fabulous hike with a good scramble up the summit ridge.

On the summit ridge - a fairly easy but sustained and really enjoyable scramble

On the summit ridge - a fairly easy but sustained and really enjoyable scramble

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Pyrenees Charity Hike

Dougal and his fundraising crew in the Ordesa Valley

Dougal and his fundraising crew in the Ordesa Valley

 Last week Dougal and his fundraising crew came over for a challenging 4 days hiking in aid of Claire House Childrens Hospice. We had brilliant weather and tackled 4 fantastic routes.

Crossing a snowfield heading up to Pico Anayet

Crossing a snowfield heading up to Pico Anayet

Our first days hiking took us to Pico Anayet – a spectacular, pointy peak of 2545m. There’s a lot more snow than normal in the Pyrenees this summer so we had to cross a few snowfields before tackling the chains and the scramble to the summit.

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