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3 Pyrenean Peaks Challenge

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Postby Diego Sahagún » Tue Sep 29, 2009 11:12 pm

Welcome to SP Paul :!:
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Postby visentin » Wed Sep 30, 2009 10:34 am

Hello Paul,

I have occasionally thought about something similar (but just in my dreams, as I now live far).
One of my friends did the Aneto in one day from France, it is a very challenging expedition in which the physical condition must be optimal, with a very early wakening, late finish (with stable weather only), and during which every minute counts.
As for Monte Perdido it's almost the same. Some did it in one day from Nerin but very sporty trip too.
Posets also is a big mountain, perhaps the one of the three the most likely to be done in one day, but certainly also a huge day.
UK's three peak challenge is not transposeable to the Pyrenees in my opinion, not in 3 days at least. I'd rather plan something like one week, sounds more reasonnable.
Otherwise the idea is great. Those three mountains are each very different with very various landscapes, it's really worth realizing this plan.

Eric
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Re: 3 Pyrenean Peaks Challenge

Postby John Climber » Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:59 pm

paulmh wrote:[size=18]Hi,
I'm new to this forum, but when I searched for info on the three highest Pyrenean peaks, it came up top of the list, so I'm posting this in the hope that members might be able to offer some advice.

The vague plan is for a group of about 6 hiking enthusiasts (not mountaineers) to tackle the 3 highest peaks in the Pyrenees, possibly next June. That's Aneto, Posets and Mont Perdu. This could either be east to west or west to east. We might stay somewhere like Vielha e Mijeran the night before and then have support to drive us to the start, perhaps near Valle del Mulleres.

The initial idea was to walk the whole thing, but I reckon we'd take over a week to do that and some of the group wouldn't be able to take that long over it. Also we'd need to stay in huts and booking them might not be that easy at that time of year.

The alternative is to get a vehicle support team to drive us to the nearest road / track access point to each summit and return the same day to that point unless there is another way down that takes us further in the direction we want to go.

That might cut the actual 3 peak climbing to 3 days, with overnight stops at some charming villages nearby. Sounds more attractive.

Do any forum members have any advice to offer? Is it essential to carry crampons and ice axes at that time of year? What are the access tracks like - suitable for ordinary vehicles or 4 wheel drive only?

Would appreciate any suggestions or ideas of contacts locally that might be able to help. I'd be happy to write up the adventure on the forum if that would be of interest. Maybe this could be a more adventurous version of the UK Three Peaks Challenge, which raises huge amounts for charity.

With best wishes,
Paul[/b]


Hello Paul,

That's a very nice plan. You seem very worried about all the logistics around it (huts, transfers, timming, etc..). I would worry about the fact that, as you say, you are hikers, not mountaineers. Well, Aneto, Monte Perdido & Posets are 'mountains' and, at that time of the year they may be still 'real mountains'...this means snow, ice, use of crampons and ice-axes,...not so easy for hikers, I think. Posets has some technical parts. Monte Perdido has the famous keypass called 'la escupidera', where some accidents happen, and Aneto is very long, with a glacier (easy), but probably a lot of melting snow among big rock-fields...

If you are having your holidays at that time of the year, you are a more hiker-type and your initial idea was to hike it all and get high...maybe you can consider to change your target. With Spain as an option maybe you can go to Sierra Nevada, in South Spain (nearby the beautiful city of Granada)...there you have a more hiking-type mountains, still with some snow, but not so much as in Pyrenees and with less dangers...There is a well known activity known as the 'Traverse of the 3000ers' with tops like Veleta, Mulhacén (3.482 m, the highest mountain of the continental Spain) and Alcazaba....all above 3000 m high and, somehow, isolated...

Good idea?
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Re: 3 Pyrenean Peaks Challenge

Postby visentin » Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:58 am

John Climber wrote:Hello Paul,
That's a very nice plan. You seem very worried about all the logistics around it (huts, transfers, timming, etc..). I would worry about the fact that, as you say, you are hikers, not mountaineers. Well, Aneto, Monte Perdido & Posets are 'mountains' and, at that time of the year they may be still 'real mountains'...this means snow, ice, use of crampons and ice-axes,...not so easy for hikers, I think. Posets has some technical parts. Monte Perdido has the famous keypass called 'la escupidera', where some accidents happen, and Aneto is very long, with a glacier (easy), but probably a lot of melting snow among big rock-fields...
If you are having your holidays at that time of the year, you are a more hiker-type and your initial idea was to hike it all and get high...maybe you can consider to change your target. With Spain as an option maybe you can go to Sierra Nevada, in South Spain (nearby the beautiful city of Granada)...there you have a more hiking-type mountains, still with some snow, but not so much as in Pyrenees and with less dangers...There is a well known activity known as the 'Traverse of the 3000ers' with tops like Veleta, Mulhacén (3.482 m, the highest mountain of the continental Spain) and Alcazaba....all above 3000 m high and, somehow, isolated...
Good idea?

100% true. I didn't notice June was mentionned. It depends if you mean "hikers" who have a bit of experience in using crampons and iceaxe, or not. It is not "difficult" mountaineering, but in June this gear is mandatory for these 3 mountains. No ice-climbing, just crossing fields of hard snow.
However, if weather tends to be stable, having this kind of spring hard snow tends to be an advantage. Cracks on the Aneto glacier are still not too big, and if the winter was snowy, most of them will remain deeply covered. I did the Vignemale (largest glacier with Aneto) in end of June some time ago and I can witness it's much better than walking on it by the end of September. For Perdido, the exposed passage "la escupidera" can be more safe with crampons and hard snow than the rolling thin screes that appear in summer. As for Posets, only the north route has an exposed scrambling passage, as far as I know. The south route should (Canal Fonda) not oppose any difficulty, except, as said, crossing fields of snow (however being exposed south, they may be rare enough depending on the moment in June)
In all cases, there is a MUST-BE rule: pyrenean snow tends to get soft and melting very quick, due to the strong sun of these meridional mountains. You must start VERY early for each of these mountains (I'd say at night before sunrise) to avoid slippery conditions
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Re: 3 Pyrenean Peaks Challenge

Postby John Climber » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:09 pm

visentin wrote:100% true. I didn't notice June was mentionned. It depends if you mean "hikers" who have a bit of experience in using crampons and iceaxe, or not. It is not "difficult" mountaineering, but in June this gear is mandatory for these 3 mountains. No ice-climbing, just crossing fields of hard snow.
However, if weather tends to be stable, having this kind of spring hard snow tends to be an advantage. Cracks on the Aneto glacier are still not too big, and if the winter was snowy, most of them will remain deeply covered. I did the Vignemale (largest glacier with Aneto) in end of June some time ago and I can witness it's much better than walking on it by the end of September. For Perdido, the exposed passage "la escupidera" can be more safe with crampons and hard snow than the rolling thin screes that appear in summer. As for Posets, only the north route has an exposed scrambling passage, as far as I know. The south route should (Canal Fonda) not oppose any difficulty, except, as said, crossing fields of snow (however being exposed south, they may be rare enough depending on the moment in June)
In all cases, there is a MUST-BE rule: pyrenean snow tends to get soft and melting very quick, due to the strong sun of these meridional mountains. You must start VERY early for each of these mountains (I'd say at night before sunrise) to avoid slippery conditions


Aneto problem at that time of the year: when you get back from the top you'll have to cross a huge boulder field, and with that soft snow of that time of the year this can be problematic...maybe sometimes you step wrong between the huge blocks and you can sink into a hole...

Posets: after the 'Canal Fonda' there is a traverse on a inclinated plain. A fall here on hard snow can be dangerous, surely if you don't self arrest on time. To know how to do this you have to be more than a hiker..I think. Then, further near the top, the ridge gets very very sharp...I was never there with snow, but seems to me that that is also a exposed pass for a hiker (even with 'dry' conditions).
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Postby Diego Sahagún » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:29 pm

Paul didn't assure it would be in June, he said "possibly next June"... Eric, I'm not with you when you say that "La Escupidera" is safer with crampons than when it's clear of snow. I think it's not a problem without snow and it could be if having ice or very hard snow.

John could be right when he says that the soft snow could be a problem in those rocky fields. Do you refer to the last slopes to Los Portillones?

I haven't ascended Posets yet so I can say nothing about its normal route
Last edited by Diego Sahagún on Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby francoisG » Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:13 pm

I second all the advice you've already got in reply to your query. For these three summits, June is a good choice because the weather is usually good and there is still a lot of snow (you will move faster on snow rather than on the rubble underneath...), even if this requires crampons. For all of them, starting very early is a must, because the snow gets very soft in the afternoon.

I can add some specific comments for Aneto and Monte Perdido, that I have done this summer.

Aneto is the easiest of the three and the closest to a hike (albeit the final part is on a glacier). It can be done in a (long) day, starting from the road that ends at Plan d'Estan, where the trail to the Renclusa hut starts. From the trailhead, you'll have 1600 meters of elevation gain to the summit. The second half of the hike, after the Portillon superior, is entirely on glacier snow in june, but the slope is quite gentle. Starting from France instead means starting at Hospice de France, which adds 1000 meters of elevation gain to the trip, and a lot of distance as well.

Monte Perdido is quite remote and is very difficult to reach in one day from anywhere. And it is not a hike. I started on the french side at the lac des Gloriettes, a beautiful and varied route. First you have to reach the Tuquerouye pass, by ascending a nice snow couloir (35-40 degrees slope). The view when one reaches the top of the couloir, on the north face Monte Perdido, is truly awesome. One can sleep in the hut located at the top of the Tuquerouye couloir (it's unmanned and small: bring a sleeping bag, and arrive early to secure a spot to sleep), or bivy on the other side of the pass near the Lago Helado. The next day, climb a small rock wall (20 meters of easy climb, grade III - there are spits sealed in the rock to rappel at the descent if you don't feel like downclimbing it) and go to Col del Cylindro, then reach the summit by an obvious 25 degrees snow couloir.

And to answer one of your questions: get a car. But you don't need a 4 wheel drive, pretty much any car will go.
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Postby visentin » Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:11 pm

francoisG wrote:I second all the advice you've already got in reply to your query. For these three summits, June is a good choice because the weather is usually good and there is still a lot of snow (you will move faster on snow rather than on the rubble underneath...), even if this requires crampons. For all of them, starting very early is a must, because the snow gets very soft in the afternoon.

I can add some specific comments for Aneto and Monte Perdido, that I have done this summer.

Aneto is the easiest of the three and the closest to a hike (albeit the final part is on a glacier). It can be done in a (long) day, starting from the road that ends at Plan d'Estan, where the trail to the Renclusa hut starts. From the trailhead, you'll have 1600 meters of elevation gain to the summit. The second half of the hike, after the Portillon superior, is entirely on glacier snow in june, but the slope is quite gentle. Starting from France instead means starting at Hospice de France, which adds 1000 meters of elevation gain to the trip, and a lot of distance as well.

Monte Perdido is quite remote and is very difficult to reach in one day from anywhere. And it is not a hike. I started on the french side at the lac des Gloriettes, a beautiful and varied route. First you have to reach the Tuquerouye pass, by ascending a nice snow couloir (35-40 degrees slope). The view when one reaches the top of the couloir, on the north face Monte Perdido, is truly awesome. One can sleep in the hut located at the top of the Tuquerouye couloir (it's unmanned and small: bring a sleeping bag, and arrive early to secure a spot to sleep), or bivy on the other side of the pass near the Lago Helado. The next day, climb a small rock wall (20 meters of easy climb, grade III - there are spits sealed in the rock to rappel at the descent if you don't feel like downclimbing it) and go to Col del Cylindro, then reach the summit by an obvious 25 degrees snow couloir.

And to answer one of your questions: get a car. But you don't need a 4 wheel drive, pretty much any car will go.


The side you've done Monte Perdido is not the easiest route. But yes, awesome areas !
The refuge you mention is Refuge de Tuquerouye
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Postby francoisG » Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:03 pm

visentin wrote:The side you've done Monte Perdido is not the easiest route. But yes, awesome areas !
The refuge you mention is Refuge de Tuquerouye


Yes, this is the hut I was talking about! It's really in an astounding location. Here is the view on Monte Perdido from this hut, and the red line indicates the route (photo taken circa June 20th, 2009):

Image

The line stops at the top at the Col del Cylindro - from there, one drops on the other side to merge with the Goriz normal route. This route is maybe slightly harder than other normal routes (the one via the Goriz hut from spain and the route that comes from the Roland pass), but it is ranked only PD nevertheless. Note that it is not the same as the 'classic north face' route.
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Postby visentin » Wed Dec 16, 2009 9:12 pm

That's a valuable photo ! You should consider attaching it to the corresponding route on SP, and even ask the owner to include it into the page !
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Postby francoisG » Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:31 pm

visentin wrote:That's a valuable photo ! You should consider attaching it to the corresponding route on SP, and even ask the owner to include it into the page !


Thanks for the suggestion. But in fact, the "Balcón de Pineta" route on the Monte Perdido page already has a photo with a very similar sketch for this portion of the route. The route described on this page starts in spain, but merges with the Tuquerouye route at the level of the Lago Helado.
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