Walking up to the Estos Hut - June 7th 2006
Ken and I were staying at the refugio in Camping Aneto, just up the road from Benasque town in Huesca a sub-region of Aragon, Spain. The weather was fantastic, clear blue skies, no rain and very little wind. As experienced before, Benasque was quiet apart from one day when a marathon was organised around the town.
Almost in a repeat of our first trip to Benasque when we had to make two attempts to climb Aneto, we did the same for Posets (alt. 3375m).
On the first 'recce' we set off from Camping Aneto in the afternoon of the 7th crossing the Rio Esera by the old Puente Nuevo de Chaime and walked up the valley via the GR11 to the Estos hut, the way was very pleasant following a trail along the verdant river valley of Ball de Estos.
On the way to the Estos hut we passed by two un-manned refugios or as we call them in Britain 'bothies' either of which would have made a habitable overnight stop for the self-caterers.
Nando the guardian at the Estos hut provided a restorative beer and an excellent dinner and then we aranged with him to leave coffee and cakes for our Alpine start the next day.
Ascent of Posets 1 - June 8th
After rising around 4:00am the next day and consuming our coffee and cakes, we kitted up and were away on the trail by 5:0am and were using our head torches to find the path through the woods and a bridge over the Rio de Estos. Luckily we had done a 'recce' after dinner the previous evening so we didn't get lost.
The trail then contoured around the hill on the opposite river bank, gradually rising until an obvious high level valley appeared. High above us on a snowfield we saw a herd of Rebecco, they stood out clearly against the pale dawnlit snow, but they soon galloped higher when they saw us and quickly disappered from view.
We followed the valley up to the snowline and the Collado de la Paul, arriving about mid-day. Following (our understanding of) the guide description, we ascended the snowfield after crossing the Collado until we reached a pronounced ridge that we thought would contain the glacier on its far side, we crossed the ridge then turned right and followed the ridge higher to what we imagined was the summit of Posets.
However we were in error, we should have turned right on the snowfield which was the glacier. Still, we scrambled up onto the spine of the ridge and tried to make upward progress until we realised that the grade was much harder than it should have been and we didn't have the rope ready. We then realised our error and descended back down to the glacier, over the Collado and back to the hut. Discretion being the better part of valour.
Ascent of Pico de Alba (alt. 3118m) - June 10th
After a rest day on the 9th comprising an unloaded walk up the Rio Esera valley from Camping Aneto towards the Hospital de Benasque for a picnic, we decided to try the Pico de Alba before we went back to Posets.
After the obligatory early start we walked from the Besurta car park up to the Renclusa hut by 5:00am and then followed the valley to the right of the hut, following a footpath towards the Pico de Paderna and the Tuca Blanca de Paderna.
On the way we spotted a frog looking for his breakfast in the boggy area near the Ibon de la Renclusa.
From there we ascended the rocky Cresta de Tuca Blanca to reach the ridge leading to the summit of Pico de Alba.
Serious cloud inversion restricted our views of the surrounding valleys and peaks on the way up to the summit ridge, but once there we were above the mists and the vista was excellent.
Climbing the knife edged ridge was great fun and we soon arrived at the top about 8:30am. It was a short day compared to the one we had on our first Posets attempt.
Rest day trip to Ainsa - June 11th.
We decided on another rest day before tackling Posets again so we drove down to the interesting nearby medieval town of Ainsa (http://www.villadeainsa.com) in the morning and spent a few hours wandering around the old streets of stone houses. We also admired the local countryside vistas from the top of the castle walls.
Then it was back to the refugio, kitting up and walking down the Ball de Estos to the Estos hut. We had a few laughs over dinner with a couple of Spanish guys and our host Nando who forecast 'tormentas' in the night. Ken and I looked a bit concerned for a moment until we realised Nando's little 'joke' referred to the potential after affects of the 'sopa de garbanzoz'
We had noted previously that some negative comments were given in a guide book about the guardians at the Estos hut being "unfriendly". We found just the opposite, Nando was a great host and we really enjoyed our stays at the hut.
Ascent of Posets 2 (alt. 3375m) - June 12thAfter a late start due to my not hearing my watch alarm and having to search around for ages for my sleeping bag stuf sac (that Ken had tidied away!!!) we eventually left the hut at 6:00am.
The headtorches were soon switched off and we reached the Collado in a much faster time than our first visit due to merciless chucking out of spare gear from our sacs, we were finally recognising the "lightweight continental style" worked and our British conservatism (safety-wise NOT political) was unsuited to the region.
After crossing the Collado we looked up right across the Posets glacier to find a gulley leading to the summit. There were a few options but we choose one that appeared to be easy angled. The snow below the gully was peppered with stone holes but everything seemed still frozen in place, so we struggled off the snow onto the loose rock of the gully. Moving higher we found our choosen ascent up a steep loose chimney was not going very well so we moved right to the other side of the gulley along an easier line and soon arrived at the summit post around mid-day.
We had jetisoned our crampons in our load lightening frenzy but it wasn't an issue as we kicked steps below the gulley and the top was free of snow.
We were eating lunch on the top when a helicopter appeared out of the clouds allowing tourists a brief view of the summit without the effort of climbing up.
After 20 minutes we set off back down the gulley taking care not to lose it on the loose stones. Then across the glacier, down the valley and back to the hut to collect our gear at 4:30pm.
After a well earned beer we set off again back down the Ball de Estos to our refugio, dumped our gear and after a quick shower went off to Benasque for a celebratory meal.
Our choosen route from the FAM Estos refugio was fairly straightforward, our excuse for two attempts was that it was our first visit to the area.
Information about the Estos and other FAM refugios can be found on their own website:
Photographs by Ken & DrJonnie
Guide: Kev Reynolds - Cicerone Press - Walks & Climbs in the Pyrenees
Maps: Editorial Alpina 1:25, 000 - Posets - Perdiguero
Maps: Editorial Alpina 1:25,000 - Maladeta - Aneto