Tag Archives: Valle de Tena

Pyrenees snowshoe holiday

Snowshoeing holiday in the Pyrenees

Next February we are running a guided snowshoeing holiday in the Valle de Tena. We’ve been asked about this lots of times by readers of the blog, so hopefully some of you will be able to come and join us for this advenure!

Snowshoeing in the Pyrenees

Snowshoeing near Portalet

Snowshoeing is brilliant fun and requires no previous experience or technical skills – if you can hike you can snowshoe! We’ll teach you all the techniques you need to know during your stay. It’s a great way of discovering the mountains in winter. The scenery is simply beautiful and the winter really is a magical time to be in the mountains.

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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.

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.

Formigal Pyrenees Snow Conditions

Snow conditions in Formigal and the Pyrenees

With the holidays over, the tourists gone and the pistes empty once again I headed up to Formigal yesterday for my first days skiing of the season.

We’ve had a lot of snow over the Christmas period – a couple of really big dumps but mixed in with a few days of rain and some high winds so I’ve heard varying reports of the snow conditions so was keen to check it out for myself.

Anayet ski area

Anayet ski area with Pico Anayet in the background

I’m happy to say there’s loads of snow and conditions are fantastic for the time of year. In both Formigal and Panticosa virtually every piste and lift is open. This is a vast improvement on the last cuple of seasons when during January the snow was very thin on the ground. I’m not saying it’s the best snow I’ve ever skied on but for this time of year it’s great and there’s lots more snow on teh forecast and I think we’re in for a great ski season.

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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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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

Hiking around the Lacs d'Ayous

Sunny July, hiking in the Pyrenees

Once more we have reached the end of another busy and enjoyable month here in the Pyrenees and we really do need to ask our selves where has this month gone! It’s been fantastic to see familiar faces returning for their 2nd, 3rd or even 4th holiday with us and we’ve also got to enjoy the Pyrenees with many others. The flowers and in particular the blue iris through July have been stunning and the weather has been beautifully hot giving us the perfect reason to go swimming in the rivers and streams whilst out and about.

Below are some select photos of what’s been happening through July, if you’d like to see some more of our photo’s, visit our face book page – https://www.facebook.com/hikepyrenees

Valle de Tena explorer - This week saw Sarah back here on her 4th and Sally back on her 3rd holiday with us. Amongst other hikes we also took advantage of the uplift in Panticosa to get high into the mountains and also had a couple of forays into France.

Discover Ordesa – We had a busy week enjoying the hikes and views of Ordesa and the surrounding area, the blue iris were superb this week!

Western Pyrenees – Phil and Javier had a successful week hiking and guiding in the Western Pyrenees.

Picos de Europa - The Picos de Europa has always been somewhere we have been keen to explore so Ken and I went over for a week to research the area; it’s hiking opportunities and of course the restaurants! Next year Hike Pyrenees will be offering a dual level walking holiday in the Picos  – Keep a close eye on the website for dates and prices!

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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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Tapas Competition in the Valle de Tena

Tapas CompetitionThis weekend and last weekend there’s been a tapas competition running along the length of the Valle de Tena. These are increasingly popular in the area and great fun as they involve plenty of eating and drinking!

Nearly every bar has two speciality tapas entered into the competition. The price for a tapa and a glass of wine is 2.60 euros which isn’t bad at all. You visit as many bars as you want and try as many tapas as you want.

Freshwater crayfish and pigs trotter in salsa - the tapas at Hotel Tierra de Biescas

Freshwater crayfish and pigs trotter in salsa – the tapas at Hotel Tierra de Biescas

There are two prizes – the official judged winner as well as the ‘popular prize’. For the popular prize theres voting forms in all of the bars and everybody votes for their favourite tapas. This year they’re getting high tech and there’s a mobile app that you can vote on too!

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New route option on our Village to Village holiday

At the Cucuraza viewpoint looking south

A great new viewpoint has been constructed above Panticosa which has allowed us to add a new option on day 3 of our Village to Village walking holiday. Cucuraza (1758m) sits high above Panticosa and gives fantastic views down onto the village and across the southern and western sides of the Valle de Tena.

From the viewpoint you link up with a footpath that passes into the northern end of the valley before descending into the village of Sallent de Gallego (the next stop on the village to village tour). It’s a fantastic option with great views throughout the day.

Views from the Cucuraza viewpoint

Views from the Cucuraza viewpoint

A good path heads fairly steeply up through the woods north of Panticosa. You initially pass through oak, box and beech before getting to some beautiful Scots Pine in the higher reaches. As you leave the woods the views are just fantastic and you take a short side trip to the viewpoint for birds eye views down onto Panticosa.

Looking down onto Panticosa

Looking down onto Panticosa

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La Vuelta in the Valle de Tena

La Vuelta Cycle RaceLa Vuelta – the Spanish version of the Tour de France – went through the Valle de Tena yesterday passing through Biescas and Sallent de Gallego before finishing at the ski resort of Formigal.

The leading group passing through Biescas

The leading group passing through Biescas

We got ourselves a good spot on the bridge and watched the bikes go by – it’s amazing the speed they go but what I find most impressive is how close together they are.

The Astana team heading up the peleton

The Astana team heading up the peleton

The stage started in Graus passing through Ainsa near Torla and Ordesa and then over the Cotefablo pass and down into Biescas before heading up the Valle de Tena. By the time they reached Biescas a group of around 10 had formed a breakaway. They were only about 30 seconds ahead but managed to stay out front which was surprising given the way the Astana team were heading up the peleton and looked intent on chasing the breakaway group down.

Uran the Colombian rider of Team Sky nearly one the stage but was ppped at the post by Barguilof France by a few millimetres. The stage might prove costly for Nibali as he was dropped by the 3 other main contenders in the final 3 km and lost about 25 seconds – around half of his lead.

The support vehicles following the peleton

The support vehicles following the peleton

After the peleton come a whole host of support vehicles screeching round the corners and struggling to keep up with the bikes.

Isabel and Anna enjoying the race

Isabel and Anna enjoying the race

It was a great fun day in the village with everyone out watching. I recorded the race on TV and the ariel shots of the valley from the helicopter looked fantastic – great weather and the mountains looked fantastic. All our guests staying in Biescas and Sallent enjoyed the race and hopefully it will pass through again next summer.

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!









A Successful Refugio Week.

Hike Pyrenees Refugio Week -003

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.

Hike Pyrenees Refugio Week -002

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.

Hike Pyrenees Refugio Week -001

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

Hike Pyrenees Refugio Week -007

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

Orchid walk in the Valle de Tena

This weekend Biescas town hall is running a series of guided orchid and flora walks. They’re led by Jose Miguel who has written 7 books on Pyrenean flora.

The orchid on the advert is a woodcock orchid – one of the fascinationg Ophrys family of orchids. Each variety is highly specialised to attract only one certain type of insect – the flower mimics the look of the insect and even gives off a scent resembling the female insects pheremone in order to attract male insects who pollenate the flower.

They walks are free to join and really interesting (and make for great Spanish practise!).

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