Tag Archives: Valle de Tena

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

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

Puente del Paco in Sallent de Gallego

This 16th century bridge is called ‘el viejo’ or ‘del Paco’ as it links the district called ‘El Paco’ with the main part of the village. A wooden bridge has existed here since 1427 and was replaced by the stone bridge around 1565.

The millstone from the old flour mill

A lot of bridges were constructed in the valley around that time and this bridge was the final link in the route known as ‘Camino Real’ which linked Biescas with the French border and was important with the increase of trade between the two nations.

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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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