Our snowshoeing holiday last week was a great success and I’m pleased to say we snowshoed under blue skies and sunshine every day. I don’t think any of us were expecting to snowshoe in t-shirts but we did on several of the days – what a treat!
Snow conditions in the Pyrenees aren’t the best this winter as we’ve had a high-pressure system sitting over us for over a month, meaning just sunshine and no fresh snow. However, the Valle de Tena is a great snowshoeing venue, and the area around the border of Portalet, being nice and high at 1800 metres, always has good snow.
Our first day on the snow saw us heading up to Pic l’iou. This sits right under the magnificent rocky peak of Pic du Midi d’Ossau and you get great views of this famous summit. It was a Sunday and there were quite a few people out on skis and snowshoes. It’s not a steep route and was perfect to get people used to the snowshoes and get their legs warmed up.
High winds greeted us the following morning and with gusts of up to 100 km/h forecasted on the higher peaks, we made the decision to stick lower today. We headed to Panticosa and hiked in the Valle La Ripera. This was nice and protected from the wind which was exactly what we wanted. It’s a fairly low route and we left the snowshoes behind today, but I was actually surprised by how much snow had stayed in this sheltered valley.
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For our next route, we headed round to the Valle de Aragon that runs north from Jaca. Here we went through the 8km long Canfranc tunnel into France where we started the route. We headed up through woods with the white iced-up face of Pic d’Aspe to our north. As we left the woods we followed under a wonderful ridge of mountains to the iced over Ibon de Estanes. It’s a spectacular route and definitely one of my favourites.
The lake was well iced over and had lots of ski tracks running over it and we decided to brave it and walk across the ice for a bit! The photo at the head of this article is the group standing on the frozen lake – notice how nobody is standing next to each other to spread out the weight just in case.
We took a slightly different way back than normal and followed a ridge with magnificent 360-degree views – simply wonderful. I’m glad we did take the ridge as we came across a herd of about fourteen chamois that were really close by and didn’t seem bothered by us at all. This was a brilliant day snowshoeing.
We headed back to the Portalet area for our final two days snowshoeing. The peak of Canal Roya (2347m) was our objective on the first of these days. It’s a lovely long walk in which is all quite gentle until you get to the final two hundred metres of ascent which are quite steep. Brilliant views from the top made the effort worthwhile though. The air is so clear in winter that you can see peaks just stretching into the distance.
For our final day we headed to the Cuyaralet area. It was quite icy and the final section to the summit is very steep so we dodn’t quite make it to the top but had a great day anyway exploring the terrain and enjoying yet another sunny day!
I hope that our guests enjoyed their snowshoeing holiday – they certainly seemed to although I wasn’t sure if there favourite part was out on the mountains or in the brillinat range of restaurants they ate at each evening! Thanks for coming and we hope to see you out in the Pyrenees again in the future.