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Central Pyrenees

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Central Pyrenees

Postby Misha » Fri Dec 11, 2009 3:47 am

I am contemplating a trip to Spain next year with a detour to the Central Pyrenees for some alpine climbing. What's the best month to do it if one also wants to enjoy Spanish and French culture in the area?

Another question:
Any climbing recommendations? I definitely want to do Salenques-Tempestades on Aneto. Anything noteworthy along the same lines (moderate rock climbing, ridge traverses, etc.)?
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Postby eza » Fri Dec 11, 2009 7:16 am

For culture enjoyment, I'd say any moment from April to September. Depends on the area you want to visit, but most villages on the spanish side of the range celebrate their main festivals along those months. Regarding ridges, I regret to say that's not my kind of terrain. I believe anything above a UIAA grade II is over my possibilities, sorry about that, but my friend Rafa Bartolomé (also a SP member) might give you some ideas...
In any case, let me know if I can be of any further help. Enjoy your stay! :)
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Postby francoisG » Fri Dec 11, 2009 11:05 am

Hi,

For rock routes, anytime between late may to september is fine. June is more prone to late afternoon thunderstorms, and timing may be critical. The weather is usually more stable in july and august, but sometimes very hot even at 3000m. September is often great, but some glacier approaches can become very tedious late in the season.

Here are a few 'classic' suggestions, from east to west:

In the Neouvielle area:
- Ferbos ridge
- ridge of the Trois Conseillers
(the two can be linked in a single climb)

In the Gavarnie area:
- Passet ridge to the Pic du Marbore
- NW ridge of the petit Astazou
- the Mont Perdu has a number of rock routes

In the Vignemale area:
- traverse from the petit to grand Vignemale
(+ numerous classic routes on the north face)

At the Balaitous peak:
- Occidental N ridge
- Costerillou ridge
- Crete du Diable

Further west, the pic du midi d'ossau has dozens of rock routes.

For the Gavarnie, Vignemale and Balaitous areas, a great source of information is the "Guide Ollivier" (in french). The book "Sommets des pyrénées, Les plus belles courses de F à D" (also in french) is also a good source of ideas.

Regards,
Francois
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Postby eza » Fri Dec 11, 2009 11:18 am

Thinking about your question, I've come up with a ridge my friends did a couple of years ago: the Besiberris full ridge. Not my kind of terrain, I already said that in my previous post, but they told me wonders about it.
Another possibility would be to have a go at Balaitous, a prestigious three-thousander. It allows a round trip using the Gran Diagonal and the Brecha Latour, and also offers a couple of rocky ridges. Any of those routes would be best attempted in august or september, beware of the Gran Diagonal one as it might be icy and extremely dangerous.
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Postby Misha » Fri Dec 11, 2009 4:08 pm

Thanks guys! Sounds like late August - early September may be my best bet. I want to visit Madrid for a few days and I hear that it gets deserted in August because of hot weather. I will most likely fly to Barcelona and drive to the mountains from there. Then continue to Pau, Bayonne, San Sebastian, La Rioja, Madrid, Valencia and back to Barcelona.

Are there any good climbing guidebooks that cover these mountains (Spanish or English)?
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Postby Diego Sahagún » Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:36 am

Misha, Alpina maps use to include a guide in Spanish/English/French:

http://www.editorialalpina.com/botiga.a ... ior=botiga

If you want them before leaving the US and can't get them from Alpina try here (in Spanish):

http://www.libreriadesnivel.com/listama ... ?PIdZona=2

Concerning seasons I'd prefer to go there in early August more than in late August or September but I think that late July would be the best for such ridges... The rain is more frequent in September mate.

Note: Madrid in August is so warm, high temperatures near 40ºC in the streets
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Postby Diego Sahagún » Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:13 am

Perhaps you want a more specific guide-book, I'll try to find you one
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Postby Misha » Mon Dec 14, 2009 4:21 pm

Thanks Diego! I will try to get these maps from the US. I also found an english hiking/climbing guidebook: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... R&v=glance

We decided to go to Spain in the very late August/early September, mostly because we want to spend some time in the cities and not just the mountains. 40C is very hot even for us Californians :). I hope to spend 4-5 days in the Central Pyrenees. Want to grab a drink in Madrid or elsehwere? We'll be in Spain from August 27th through September 10th
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Postby Diego Sahagún » Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:51 pm

I don't know yet Misha but I could say you that the Cicerone book is not rock-climbing specific, it's more like a tourist-hiking guide. Well, it probably won't be as hot as 40ºC. Temperatures use to rise to 35ºC and some more degrees in the city but it uses to low a bit in late August. Showers start in September and they are more acused in the northly mountains, as Picos de Europa or The Pyrenees. Anyway, if you want to visit our cities it will be fine in early September. But you'll expect hard showers in the mountains (even in Sistema Central), mostly in the afternoons. Another thing for choosing July and not August or early September is that you'll still find snow patches in the mountains
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Postby Misha » Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:36 pm

Thanks Diego. Any glaciers / crevasses to look forward to in early September?

I definitely want to try Salenques-Tempestades on Aneto. if we do it, we'll try to bivy on the summit and come down the next day
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Postby Diego Sahagún » Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:45 pm

Glaciar de Aneto Misha. There aren't big glaciers in The Pyrenees but that is the largest in Spain and very beautiful mate. I will be cracked late in the summer
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