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Climbing Trip to the Spanish Pyrenees


Original Post
Derrick W · · Fayetteville, AR · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 606

I'm planning a trip to the Pyrenees in late June and am looking for some information/suggestions about where and what to climb.  We will have roughly 9 days and will be on the Spanish side of the range.  We'd like to focus on longer, moderate alpine routes that summit some of the more impressive peaks/formations.  I don't really want to lug mountaineering boots, axes, crampons, etc all the way to Europe so I'd like to avoid snow/glaciers, but low angle snow travel is fine.  On a related note, how is the snow pack this year?  What should I expect for conditions in late June?

I'd also like to do just a day or two of sport climbing (a little birdie told me there's decent sport climbing in Spain), so any suggestions on that front would be welcome as well.

Sergey · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 0

Depending on your definitions of “alpine” and “moderate” I’d check out Riglos. Might be a bit warm.

Derrick W · · Fayetteville, AR · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 606
Sergey wrote: Depending on your definitions of “alpine” and “moderate” I’d check out Riglos. Might be a bit warm.

Thanks for the suggestion.  Not sure I'd call it either, but it looks really cool and I think both my partner and myself would enjoy it.  Fiesta De Los Biceps looks stellar!

CathyO · · Catalonia · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 0

The snowpack should be fairly minimal. It was a poor winter for snow. For alpine rock routes, many of the best are on the French side. But it’s not difficult to drive across one of the passes. 
Consider Vignemale - standard route on the south side, harder lines on the north.  And Pic Midi  D’Ossau. 
For trad multipitch at altitude plus bolted sport, consider Cavallers. And the various ridge scrambles and trad multipitch accessed from guarded huts in the Aiguestortes national park.  

Or base yourself at Benasque (the Chamonix of the Pyrenees, below the highest peak in the range. Various alpine possibilities plus bolted sport in the valley. 

ddriver · · SLC · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,344

I have not climbed in the Pyrenees but it seems there is a Rockfax guide that covers at least part of the eastern end.  It may be more France focused.  You might also consider Picos de Europa, not far west.  You can get alpine routes and sport cragging there on very good limestone, not so much snow.  There is a very small section here on the Picos.  A good trip report was posted on Supertopo last year maybe for crags mostly on the south side of the range.  As for guidebooks, perhaps there is a UK one or two, as I have a very old one.  Riglos is great but it may be a bit warm.

k-laminero · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 10

Camptocamp is a good source of information on alpine routes

Hadrien D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined 4 days ago · Points: 0

Hi,

I live in the (French) Pyrénées ; in Spain, depending where you stay, I would strongly advise Cavallers for climbing (stunning granite, beautiful sport / trad/ multipitch alpine routes) as Cathy did. For multipitch, you could also check out Montrebei or Collegats.

Staying in Benasque is a good option, but if you want to visit Cavallers/Montrebei/Collegats you'll need a car. From Benasque you can also access the Posets area, border summits (Perdiguère-Maupas area) and the Maladeta range as well. If you want to climb in the Maladeta-Aneto range, beware of the crowd during that period. You may not find that much snow this year ; that said, I would advise you take light crampons / ice axe just in case you find hard neves (which will likely be the case over 2000m).

Another option could be to stay in Panticosa so that you can visit the Ordesa-Perdido park as well as the Vignemale, Ossau and Balaïtous areas. I've never sport climbed here though, so I couldn't give you advices about climbing spots in this region. However, for alpine and multipitch climbing, the Ordesa canyon and the Pic du Midi d'Ossau are full of splendid routes.

For informations about alpine routes, Camptocamp is a gold mine (“Topoguide” section). For harder multipitch / alpine climbing routes on the Spanish side, also check out Luis Alfonso’s website : http://luichy-lanochedelloro2.blogspot.com/

Enjoy your trip !

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 289

Hope I'm not butting in excessively but: Never been to Cavallers but the enthusiasm above got me curious, and it does indeed look like an incredible place. I found a list on Ukclimbing that gives a few tempting clues (list of classics) 
https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/set.php?id=2774
and a more complete list of routes here.
https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crag.php?id=10488​​​
Looks like a good mix of single pitch and bigger routes, and on granite.

I think I need to put this place on the list! One thing, it looks pretty isolated, which could be a plus or a minus depending on whether you are trying to have a real hardcore alpine trip or a super cush "plaisir" trip. Can anyone who's been there comment on what's nearby for towns, supplies etc? 

Derrick W · · Fayetteville, AR · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 606

Thanks for the suggestions everybody!

Hadrien: My partner and I are going to rent a car in Barcelona and drop it off in Bilbao a week later, so transportation should not be an issue.  Also, thanks for the detailed info on the Cavallers: that area had been suggested to me by multiple people, but I was having trouble locating specific info.  Now I'm set!!

The current plan is: A couple days in Cavallers, then a few days in Pedraforca, then maybe Mount Perdito/Ordessa!  So stoked!!!

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 289
Derrick W wrote: Thanks for the suggestions everybody!

Hadrien: My partner and I are going to rent a car in Barcelona and drop it off in Bilbao a week later, so transportation should not be an issue.  Also, thanks for the detailed info on the Cavallers: that area had been suggested to me by multiple people, but I was having trouble locating specific info.  Now I'm set!!

The current plan is: A couple days in Cavallers, then a few days in Pedraforca, then maybe Mount Perdito/Ordessa!  So stoked!!!

Derrick can you post up a few comments here on how it went when you get back? Really curious about Cavallers, the sound of it reminds me of Ailefroide in France, which has become one of my favorite spots. Have a good trip! 

Hadrien D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined 4 days ago · Points: 0
Derrick W wrote: Thanks for the suggestions everybody!

Hadrien: My partner and I are going to rent a car in Barcelona and drop it off in Bilbao a week later, so transportation should not be an issue.  Also, thanks for the detailed info on the Cavallers: that area had been suggested to me by multiple people, but I was having trouble locating specific info.  Now I'm set!!

The current plan is: A couple days in Cavallers, then a few days in Pedraforca, then maybe Mount Perdito/Ordessa!  So stoked!!!

Good plan ! You'll have a good introduction to what our mountains can offer, I'm sure you'll want to come back and get more after that ;) plus Ordesa is definitely one of the most beautiful valley in the whole range. I've never been to Pedraforca, but I've heard it's a major place for climbing.


@Optimistic : The nearest "big" town to find supplies near Cavallers is Suert. You'll also find tiny supermercats in villages up in the Boí valley.

The main problem is sleeping : you can stay in a hotel or campsite in Boí, but the higher the better (Caldes de Boí would be optimal) as you will have to get to the lake each morning. However, these are kind of "sleepy" villages, as any mountain village, so you won't find that much activities during the evening.

An other (better) option is to stay at the parking just below the dam. During the summer you'll often find climbers sleeping in their vans or on the ground near their cars. The thing is that bivouac is (theoretically) prohibited in the Aygues Tortes park because of environmental concerns (but on the other hand, in some areas of the park, you'll find 4x4 taxis transporting tourists so that they can "enjoy" the mountains without having to walk). Off season, rangers are quite tolerant, but during summertime you may be fined if caught. That said, if you're discreet, go with minimal gear and set up your camp late and get up early. Also, as the dam lake isn't really within the park boundaries, bivouac may be tolerated on its shores (but I'm not sure about it).

If you stay a couple of days there, it may be worth checking the upper area of Cavallers (Travessani). It's really beautiful and you'll also find a lot of alpine climbs there. Plus the hut is sweet and the keeper will give you some advices on cool routes.
Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 289
Hadrien D wrote:

Good plan ! You'll have a good introduction to what our mountains can offer, I'm sure you'll want to come back and get more after that ;) plus Ordesa is definitely one of the most beautiful valley in the whole range. I've never been to Pedraforca, but I've heard it's a major place for climbing.


@Optimistic : The nearest "big" town to find supplies near Cavallers is Suert. You'll also find tiny supermercats in villages up in the Boí valley.

The main problem is sleeping : you can stay in a hotel or campsite in Boí, but the higher the better (Caldes de Boí would be optimal) as you will have to get to the lake each morning. However, these are kind of "sleepy" villages, as any mountain village, so you won't find that much activities during the evening.

An other (better) option is to stay at the parking just below the dam. During the summer you'll often find climbers sleeping in their vans or on the ground near their cars. The thing is that bivouac is (theoretically) prohibited in the Aygues Tortes park because of environmental concerns (but on the other hand, in some areas of the park, you'll find 4x4 taxis transporting tourists so that they can "enjoy" the mountains without having to walk). Off season, rangers are quite tolerant, but during summertime you may be fined if caught. That said, if you're discreet, go with minimal gear and set up your camp late and get up early. Also, as the dam lake isn't really within the park boundaries, bivouac may be tolerated on its shores (but I'm not sure about it).

If you stay a couple of days there, it may be worth checking the upper area of Cavallers (Travessani). It's really beautiful and you'll also find a lot of alpine climbs there. Plus the hut is sweet and the keeper will give you some advices on cool routes.

Thanks very much for the information Hadrien D!  I hope I get to put it to use before too long!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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