Cirque de Gavarnie and Ordesa
Cirque de Gavarnie and Pic de Gabiet (2716m)

Another fantastic hike with Juanma. This time we explored the area of Bujaruelo, crossing over into France for views of the Cirque de Gavarnie before tackling the spectacular border ridge and the spiky peak of Gabiet at 2716 metres.

We started at the Refugio of San Nicolas de Bujaruelo, where Juanma is camping for a week. It’s a beautiful spot, just north of Torla, and we always start a hike here on our Discover Ordesa walking holidays – usually we hike in the lovely hanging valleys of Otal or Ordiso.

Today though, we started by heading east, up to the Puerto de Bujaruelo on the French/Spanish border. This is just to the north of the Ordesa National Park and you can see the north faces of all of the peaks of Ordesa, rather than the southern side that we are used to seeing from Spain.

We headed east, up to the Puerto de Bujaruelo which is the pass into France. It’s a 900 metre climb, but on a good path and not too steep so we made it easily in a couple of hours. From the col we got our first views of the peaks above Gavarnie. These are the peaks that we usually see the southern side from our hikes in the Ordesa Valley, it was great to see the northern faces for a change.

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Refugio Week

Guided hiking on the famous GR11 and summit Monte Perdido

The Ordesa NP

Guide to hiking the spectacular canyons of the Ordesa National Park

From the col we headed into France, rather bizzarley you soon reach a car park! It must be one of the highest car parks in France up at 2200 metres. We headed along a short ridge to Pic de Tentes which is a brilliant viewpoint for the Cirque de Gavarnie and all the three thousand metre peaks. It’s a wonderful spot and if you’ve driven up only a 10 minute walk from the car!

Different peaks came in and out of view as we hiked. We could see the Brecha de Roland and the so-called False Brecha with it’s skinny pillar of rock known as El Dedo (‘the finger’).

Views across to the summits above Gavarnie

We turned back towards Spain, but this time passed by the pretty lake of Lac de Especieres and from there climbed to meet the border at the Puerto de Lapazosa.

At the Puerto de Bujaruelo looking back into Spain

Lac des Especieres

This is where the real work started! We headed along the border ridge passing over four peaks in total. It was steep going with quite a lot of rocky sections and some care needed to find the best route as there wasn’t really a path.

The ridge was just brillinat though and worth the effort. The views just kept getting better and changing with each summit we reached. As we climbed the views behind just got bigger and better. At one point we could see about a dozen three thousand metre peaks in the Ordesa National Park and probably a dozen other in France and across to the Valle de Tena.

In fact, we could see all of the Ordesa peaks so well I made this annotated picture to pint them all out.

Approaching the first summit of Soum Blanc (2672m)

The first summits we crossed were the twin peaks of Soum Blanc (2662m and 2632m) which were quite rocky but easy enough if you picked the right route through.

As we reached the top, the peaks to the north came into view, with brilliant vistas towards Vigenmale. We could see its glacier – the biggest left in the Pyrenees and the Refuge Baysallence beneath.

Then the real fun started as we approached Pic de Gabiet. The ridge looked steep, rocky and pretty fearsome! I have to say I was a bit apprehensive but Juanma had done it before and promised me it was worse than it looked!

It actually wasn’t bad but a lot of care was needed with steep drops on each side but there were plenty of places for your feet and hands – even if a lot of them were a bit loose!

The ridge of Pic de Gabiet – Juanma promised me it was easier than it looked!

It was pretty much all downhill now – but a lot of downhill as we were nearly 1400 metres above Refugio Bujaruelo. Our route down took us past the Ibon de la Bernatuara which Juanma described as ‘a puddle in a hole’ but I thought was quite pretty!

From the ibon it was a long but pretty straightforward descent back down to Refugio Bujaruelo where a cold beer awaited us to reward us for our efforts.

All in all a brilliant day. The views were simply spectacular all day and were ever changing. A long one – it took us 10 hours with 19km covered and a massive 1785 metres of ascent. I’ve learnt that Juanma doesn’t get out of bed unless we’re going to get at least 1600 metres of ascent in!

Thanks Juanma for another great trip – looking forward to the next one.

Looking down on ‘the puddle in a hole’

Gavarnie and Pic de Gabiet

1 Comment

  1. Graham Taylor


    Another superbly written article with some fantastic mapping and photography.

    Yes Phil I remember that bridge where we all had our photos taken in 2011.

    On another trip trip that I made many years ago (before HP) I walked up the Cirque to Gavarnie (yep its a bit of a motorway !) to the base of the reputed highest waterfall in Europe . I also had a magnificent fresh Myrtle Pie. If you have never tried one (which I am sure you must have done) I can highly recommend.

    I hope you can get back to some form of normality in 2021 with Hike Pyrenees but in the meantime I hope you and the family stay safe and well in this very difficult times


    Graham Taylor (2011 and 2013 )


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