Peña Oroel 1769m[img:667521:alignleft:medium:Shadow of Oroel on rainbow clouds over Jaca.]
Peña Oroel stands guard over one of the main towns of the Huesca province, Jaca in the Aragonese Pre Pyrenees.
A modest summit in altitude, but “grande” in attitude! The importance of Peña Oroel is more than just a geological feature for the mountain-focused community of Jaca. The gigantic cross on the summit tells of the community’s strong links with the mountains and we’re not just talking of the lucrative nature of the nearby skiing and winter mountaineering which makes Jaca such a popular destination. The Jaca plains are presided over by this singular mountain – just 5.5km “as the crow flies” from the centre of the city of Jaca (altitude: 819m).
Peña Oroel forms part of a system of conglomerate rock situated between the Pre-Pyrenees (the Partacua chain) and the outer sierras (Sierra de Guara, Huesca). Its great walls of red rock, over 300m high, are skirted by woodland of pine and spruce and crowned by a gigantic cross, visible from the city, with its wide, flat summit stretching west to Punta Bazias (1,689m).
|[img:667546:aligncenter:small:North from summit.]||[img:710052:aligncenter:small:From Monte Oturia.]|
Well Loved - Well Walked[img:667527:alignleft:medium:The snowy ridge from the normal route, with the cross in the far distance. Dec. 2009.]
Needless to say, this mountain has its legends and superstitions. It is said that the Reconquista of Aragón started when bonfires on the summit of Oroel indicated that the fight was to begin. It’s even considered a magical mountain, forming the eastern part of a “triangle” with the summits of San Adrián de Sasabe and San Juan de la Peña. It’s also believed that treasure and a mine are hidden in its slopes – but they have yet to be discovered. Other acutal hidden treasures are the tiny hermitage on its south face – the Virgen of the Cave (Ermita de La Virgen de la Cueva).
Ricardo says the summit is used by many locals as a “training” peak, being convieniently near to civilisation. While every Christmas (the Sunday before Xmas day), a mass is held on the summit and the Bishop of Huesca climbs up -usually over snow by then - with his congregation. The views go without saying. From the summit there are fine views of all the western peaks of central Pyrennes, including the Jaca local peaks of: Collarada and Aspe.
Getting to the trailhead.[img:667548:left:right:View of Oroel from Camping site in Jaca.]
ACCESS: From the town of Jaca take the forest track on the North face of Oroel, from the Puerto de Oroel 1,070m on the HU-1205 road which links with the Puerto de Navasa (953m) on the HU-V-3011.
The route: When and HowWhen? Spring, Autum. When there is no snow or ice, the route is straightforward. You could possible enjoy this route in summer too, but remember that it can be very hot midday, so start early and take sufficent water with you.[img:667523:alignright:small:South face of Oroel.]
WARNING: We did the route with some snow on the path from the start. Snow – in the shade of pine trees – can easily become hard ICE and difficult if not dangerous to cross.
PLEASE NOTE: I do not give any information here on this in winter conditions/when there is a lot of snow.
The normal route starts at 1,186m at the viewpoint or Mirador de Oroel, also called on some maps The Parador de Oroel, but don’t be decieved. This is a tiny restaurant and bar and not one of the fine parador hotels that you can find throughout Spain.
Mirador de Oroel (1,186m) to summit of Peña Oroel (1,769m)
Duration of hike: 2 hours 40 minutes.
OUTLINE OF ROUTE: From the Parador (plenty of parking) you will see a wooden signpost (photo) which indicates the start of the zigzag path through the pine trees. Steep in places but very easy underfoot and little chance of losing the path. You should have tantalizing glimpses through the trees of the big peaks to the north. At 1,660m you come out into Las Neveras – an open area from where you will see ahead of you the crest and the final summit with its enormous metal cross. Great views over the peaks of the western Central Pyrenees including the nearest to Jaca – Aspe and Collarada.
For the Ermita, retrace your steps, keeping off the north edge of the ridge and following a track somewhat lower down, on the south of the crest. You will pick up a signposted track that descends south (200m of descent) on a stoney zigzag path. About 15 minutes.
To return, retrace your steps to the sign post and continue east to pick up the woodland track back to the parador.
Camping / Information on the town of JacaCamping Aín, Jaca
(This link shows location and contact telephone/email).
Parador Oroel: Parador Oroel
A site in Spanish about what’s on offer in the city of Jaca and nearby:
Freetime in Jaca