The Route

Having visited the Pyrenees 4 times already, including 2 complete traverses of the GR11 and HRP, my trip in 2013 was all about filling in a few blanks, and bagging a few summits along the way. The 15-day route covered about 400km from Eyne-Bolquere train station to Gavarnie, with 25,000 metres of ascent. The route largely followed the GR11 once I'd reached Andorra, but also climbed the following 7 summits:

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Route

The route was completed from 28th June to 12th July 2013.
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Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 15 - Refuge Baysellance to Gavarnie via the Vignemale

View Pyrenees 2013 - Day 15 in a larger mapDay 15

Day 15, the final day of the trip started out super-early. I was keen to get up and down the Vignemale and back down to Gavarnie in time for the bus to Lourdes.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 14 - Refuge la Grange de Holle to Refuge Baysellance

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Day 14

This was by far the shortest day of the trip. A relaxed stroll up the GR10/HRP to arrive at the Refuge de Baysellance before lunchtime. I could in theory have climbed the Vignemale in a couple of hours and headed back down the valley, but given it was clouding over, and there was no rush, I chose to hang around at the hut for the rest of the day, making it feel like  very long wait until dinner time.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Day 7 - Espot to Espitau de Vielha

Distance: 33km, Ascent: 2450m, Descent: 2210m

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Day 7 began from Casa Felip in Espot at 6am.  The first section to Estany de Sant Maurici I done twice before in the opposite direction.  It was quite cold and windy when I reached the lake, so I took a brief shelter from the wind before heading into the national park proper.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Day 6 - Tavascan to Espot via GR11

Distance: 27km, Ascent: 2275m, Descent: 2090m

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Day 6

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Day 5 - Refugio Vallferrera to Tavascan via Pica d'Estats

Distance: 23km, Ascent: 1550m, Descent: 2300m

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After breakfast with the 4 Catalan guys, I left the Vallferrera Refuge just before 6:30am.  The climb towards Pica d'Estats was more convoluted and interesting than it looked on the map, and once past the 2 lakes it was continuous snow cover until the rocky col of Port de Sotllo at 2893m.  I wasn't quite sure of the route to Pica d'Estats after the col, but gathered that it was best to descend a little before skirting around to meet the voie normal from Refugi Pinet.  I contoured right around until I met the easy-angled north east ridge, and soon found myself on the summit with the customary enormous iron cross draped with Catalan flags, and nobody else around.

The initial descent was fast down soft runnable snow, but then I cut across to the col north of Pic de Sotllo via a steep snow slope, and even steeper descent on the other side.  Once back on the snow it was easy but trackless descent into a dramatic bowl to drop out near the Refuge de Broate.

The section of trail below Ref. de Broate was awash with wild flowers, and once down to Pla de Boavi I took a late lunch stop before picking up the pista down to Tavascan.

I checked into the Hotel Llacs de Cardos and had a quiet evening.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Day 4 - Arinsal to Refugio Vallferrera via Pic de Coma Pedrosa

Distance: 15km, Ascent: 1560m, Descent: 11300m

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I made a super-early start, leaving the hotel in darkness at 5:16am, thinking it might be possible to climb Pic de Coma Pedrosa and Pica d'Estats in the same day.  However it took just over 5 hours to reach the summit of Coma Pedrosa and the clouds were already bubbling up, so the idea of attempting Pica d'Estats in the afternoon was quickly abandoned.

I met a couple from the Czech Republic at the summit who had recently climbed Perdido.  We chatted for a few minutes before I headed off towards the Portella de Baiau to drop back into Spain.  The descent was down steep loose scree at first, but lower down I was onto steep snow and faffed around putting the crampons on and using the ice axe to get down to the edge of the frozen lakes, Estanys de Baiau.

I took a lunch stop beside the basic metal shelter of Refuge de Baiau, sitting in warm sunshine, before wading the meltwater stream from the lakes and picking up the GR11 down to Pla de Boet.  I reached the Refuge de Vallferrera just before 3pm, and initially intended to continue a bit further. But once I'd sat down and relaxed, I realised it made more sense to stay at the refuge and get a proper meal and bed for the night.

The evening meal was sociable chatting with 4 Catalan guys from Barcelona who were hiking a 4-day circuit from Tavascan called La Porta del Cel (Heaven's Gate).  Today they had climbed Pica d'Estats from Refugi de Pinet, and tomorrow they planned to finish back in Tavascan.