Took a trip to Ordesa with Fabian at the weekend to visit the Brecha de Rolando and climb Taillon – a 3000 metre peak on the border. I’d been wanting to do this hike for ages and the great weather we’ve been having recently gave us the perfect opportunity.
The Brecha is a stunning deep cleft in the cliffs that run along the border and it’s the only easy place to pass between France and Spain in the Ordesa Park. It’s the stuff of legend and the Chanson de Roland tells how Roland one of Charlemagnes generals escaped from the moors by cleaving the breach with his sword and fleeing into Christian France.
We started at the Pradera in the Ordesa valley. During winter sunlight doesn’t reache the floor of the valley and this combined with the temperature inversions you get in such a deep valley has created a wonderful hoarfrost that is covering all of the trees on the valley floor. I’ve never seen it this thick before and it was quite beautiful.
We quickly walked up to Refugio Goriz where we stayed the night – we were the only ones there apart from the hut wardens. In winter when there’s a lot more space they set up a table tennis table in the hut so Fabien amused himself by thrashing me at ping pong all evening!
We headed out (fairly) early the next morning and headed over towards the Brecha. Wonderful early morning light and views of Monte Perdido. Snow was really patchy to start with. We had a lot of snow early DEcember but warm weather and some high winds have left a lot of bare patches.
Things were fairly tranquil until the final fairly steep section up the the Brecha de Roland. It’s spectacular as you arrive – the views into France just suddenly open up and you can see down into Gavarnie. The cliffs either side of you are incredible – tall and impressively thin.
Reluctantly we left the Brecha and headed along the border ridge towards the peak of Taillon. On the way you pass the False Brecha which is another impressive gap between the end of the cliffs and the pillar of rock called El Dedo – the finger.
To have to pass El Dedo on the north side and the difference between conditions was extreme. We’d been walking on mainly fairly soft snow but on the French side it was rock hard blue ice. We passed El Dedo with considerable care looking at a short icy run off over cliffs beneath us!
From the False Brecha it was a straightforward hike along the border ridge to the summit although the wind was blowing bitterly here freezing your face.
On the descent we stopped for lunch at a great spot were we could see nearly all of the 3000 metre peaks in the National Park. Stunning views yet again!
To get back to the floor of the valley the most direct route – Circo de Cotatuero – was iced up so we detoured round to Circo de Carriata which took a bit longer than planned. The route we descended is where you usually go up to the Faja de las Flores or Faja Racon – one of our favourite hikes on our Ordesa holidays.
We could see along the Faja de las Flores – a spectacular narrow ledge high on the cliffs. Lovely sight but as you can see from the photo it was already sunset and we still had a thousand metres of descent to do!
My final photo was of Venus with the sillouette of Tozal de Mallo to the right. After this it was headtorches on and we sped down as fast as we could.
Superb trip and just great to finally get to the Brecha – I’m embarrassed to say it’s my first time there after doing so much hiking in Ordesa and the Pyrenees!