PRIMARY IMAGE: Mondotó seen from the summit of Monte Perdido. Summer 2007.
Mondoto isn’t visible from its usual trailhead, the village of Nerin, situated just outside the Ordesa National Park boundary. The start of the route also doesn’t give you much of a clue. No peaks, no high points. But don’t go by first impressions. As you start the climb, the gentle ascent winds across rocky pavements of curious rock formation up to a grassy col and - wow! - you have all the Monte Perdido massif – right in front of you. And don’t stop to gape too long, there is more to come. At the high point (better name here than summit) of Mondoto, you will have the most awesome views over the Cañon de Añisclo.
Yes, Mondoto is a surprising place. View it from other angles – from the summit of Monte Perdido (foto) or from the Nerin road (S) – and you will see its other side: in contrast to the smooth slopes, its jagged east face dives down into the throat of the Cañon in rocky zigzags. On the other side of the Cañon, the walls of Sestrales.
You will find good examples of the strange rock formation called lapiaz: a simplistic description is a rock "pavement" with deep, jagged cracks.
What kind of ascent is it?
Type of route: In spring or autumn when there is no snow, it is an ideal warmer-upper if you are in the area. Ideal for beginners. And perfect for photographers and romantics. On a good day, you should see birds of prey and wonderful flora as well as the extensive views over the Cañon de Añisclo, Monte Perdido massif, Sierra de Tendeñera, Cotiella, Montañesa and more.
The most popular route is from the village of Nerin, just outside the Ordesa National Park. As you ascend you will see a couple of the boundary markers (green signs) of the park though you stay just outside it.
Recommended seasons: april – may / october – november.
How to get to the trailhead - the village of NerínFrom l'Aínsa (Valle de Cinca) head North towards Escalona.
From Escalona, take the road up the Bellos valley. It’s narrow and zig zaggy, running between gorges and gulleys towards the high valley of Ara. At 13km from Escalona, the road passes the famous San Úrbez bridge and continues towards the villages of Nerín and Fanlo. Avoid the turning to Burba and Vio and continue up the valley, turning finally to the right to Nerin. You can also reach Nerín via Sarvisé and Fanlo. The road is even narrower and slower. Give yourself plenty of time!
Warning: In winter these roads can be closed or at least very icy and will require use of "chains" (cadenas) on your vehicle.
Route Outline from NerínThe most popular route is from the village of Nerin, just outside the Ordesa National Park. As you ascend you will see a couple of the boundary markers (green signs) of the park.[img:556734:alignright:medium:Mondoto (1957 m) from the little village of Nerín]
Season: april – may / october – november
Timing: Two hours to summit. Two hour descent. 4 in total.
Difficulty: It is an easy peak, ideal for newcomers to mountain trails.
Take care: The summit crest is steep and loose – don’t go too near the edge. It plummets down to the base of the Añisclo Cañon.
The route: Start in Nerín, just above the hotel on the outskirts (near the rubbish containers!). Follow the driveable track (to Cuello Gordo/Arenas) crossing one barrier near the village and another one higher up. At this point the track continues left and we pick up our path right. Follow this steeply up for a few minutes to a big arrow on the rocks to Cuello Gordo (left). We turn right. Now the route is fairly well marked all the way - yellow arrows on rocks and cairns (small piles of stones).
When you reach a wide rock pavement, the path is already levelling out. Cross the gulley (there may be some water) and head up right, finally on a grassy slope to the obvious col. Here is where the surprise comes - the wide open views of the Monte Perdido massif in front of you.
Continue asending over slopes and "lapiaz" rock pavements to the summit, which is not obvious - there is a pile of stones. Take care here, as the drop into the Añisclo Canyon is vast. Stay well clear of the edge especially when taking photographs. Continue south along this edge (dropping off the crest a bit to the right in places) to reach the further point.