Punta Suelza, south face, from Cruz de Guardia Col & Bielsa or Gistaín Valleys.
North to Urdiceto.
The south approach of this singular mountain is outlined in the Punta Suelza main page, but it is here in a litte more detail as there are some possible variations to this route in summer (snow-free months). PRIMARY IMAGE. Punta Suelza summit (almost in view) from one of the Barleto lakes.
The route described here is non-technical and over (mainly) very easy terrain. The complications come in the practicalities of the approach. The purist would hike from the valley – either Bielsa or Gistain - but this would make an ascent of over 1,800m. However, just as for the north face (Urdiceto valley), there is a driveable track that can be used to reach a suitable starting point for a fairly short but very satisfying ascent.
ON FOOT FROM BIELSA TO CRUZ DE GUARDIA COL.. Hike the GR19.1 (long-distance foot path) from Camping Bielsa (aprox 1,000m) – also Hotel - to reach col (2,103m).
ON FOOT FROM THE GISTAIN VALLEY. Hike the GR19.1 from near the village of Señes (see Punta Maristás for details) to reach the Cruz de Guardia col.
BY CAR FROM SEÑES TO CRUZ DE GUARIA COL. (Gistain Valley) via 11km of track (reasonable condition for a non-4x4 vehicle if taken slowly and in good weather. After heavy rain some sections could be difficult). The track starts just before the village of Saravillo. Take the road to Plan and turn off left before the first tunnel. A narrow windey road climbs up towards the village of Sin. Continue up (don't enter Sin) and the track is on the left, (information table on the right, just opposite the turning). This track can be done without a 4x4 vehicle if taken with care. Officially the track stops near the col after some 11km (approx). There is a small amount of space to park the car. The track continus past a sign prohibiting unauthorised vehicles & motobikes.
COL DE GRUZ DE GUARDIA TO LAS PARDINAS ON FOOT. 3km of track to a sheltered area used at certain times of the year for cattle. Farmer’s hut (locked). Large concrete water trough (dry) a little higher up.
Prames: Llardana o Posets (1:40.000)
Ed. Alpina: 1:25.000 Valles de Chistau y Bielsa Bachimala (these maps have an accompanying booklet in (reasonable) english translation. Some route in brief plus other information about the area. Most of the routes mentioned on this page can be found on this map.
The Route & Variations.
TECHNICAL DETAILS: Punta Suelza from Las Pardinas
2h to 2h 30m
approx 5km to summit
DESCRIPTION OF THE ROUTE FROM LAS PARDINAS. Two options, both marked on the Ed. Alpina map (1:25.000) Bachimala. The “main route” (acording to the map) heads roughly NW from the hut to skirt the slope to the left (passing on our left a second hut, not visible from the first hut). The route from there on is sufficiently marked with cairns.
From Punta Maristás.
Having climbed to the grassy ridge, the path turns up right (look up the grassy slope above you and you’ll see a small cairn). There are a number of these wide, grassy ledges to climb. There’s no “path” but small cairns direct the way very effectively. Our objective is now clearly in view ahead of us.
At about 2,600m, the route reaches a big pile of stones. From this cairn we can see down to the left the Ibones de Barleto (the two bigger lakes). Another steep grassy slope takes us up to where I believe the alternative route comes in on the right.
At around 2,700m the terrain changes dramatically, leaving the grassy slopes for rock and scree. At the first rocky section of crest, taken-on directly (a couple of rock steps that look worse than they are from below) rather than try to skirt the rocks to the left (traces of path over sloping scree). A second of these very short rocky sections follows and then there is no option but to skirt the rock bulk above us to the left. This is the only rather delicate section of the whole route and should be taken slowly (and with care if wet). Various lines of cairns can be followed. Keeping up close to the rocks on the right can give some comforting hand-holds. To the right, the steep scree slope falls away to the Barleto lakes below.
Easy stony ground from thereon takes us up to the ridge above us, with the trig point soon coming into view to the right. The views are spectacular in every direction.
ALTERNATIVE DESCENT. The Alpina map marks a descent via the Barleto lakes (two large and two tiny ones) from the western edge of the summit ridge, but it is not a defined path and it’s important to avoid sections that end up as rocky ledges. A more straightforward option to visit the lakes (recommended) is to return by the ascent route and – just after the large cairn with views over the lake – drop down to the right over easy scree to reach the lake basin, from where the lakes are hidden from view but easily reached.
It is unnecesary to return to the large cairn. Nor is it worth taking the route shown on the map that passes Cabaña de Barleto. From the centre point of the stream that joins the two main lakes, head S o SSW and find an easy rocky gulley that drops down into a wide grassy basin and head left SE towards the visible lower grassy slope to pick up the path used on the ascent. From here on, its just down hill over easy ground. If you’re parked at the Col de la Guardia you will still have 3km of track and I haven’t seen a way to avoid that.
ALTERNATIVE: From Las Pardinas. The alternative route takes the Ribareta de Pardinas (following the stream) to the right, winding up to the Ibon and Col de Berdemené (2,500m aprox) below Pico la Parda (2,552m) then trending W of NW to meets up with the first route. I believe it might be a little more interesting than Route One, but the height gain is the same and terrain must be similar.
OPTIONS: You could take in the small peak above the Pardinas – Punta Berdemené (2,560m) on the descent, descending via thte Berdemené col and tiny lake. From the summit of Berdemené or Pico la Parda 2,552m (as marked on the Alpina map) you can descend to the Col de Cruz de Guardia without hitting the 3km track.
[img:740059:aligncenter:small:North to Urdiceto.]
[img:740060:aligncenter:small:Berdemené col & lake.]
The usual kit for summer mountaineering: Mountain footwear, a good map, water (don't drink the lakes!), clothes for a possible change in the weather (waterproof, warm layer). Hat and sun protection for hot days.
Emergency telephone number in Spain/Aragon: 112.
WEATHER FORCASTS. Get a reliable and up-to-date weather forecast before setting off. You can use AEMET by clicking on the mountain area you require. Or another very realiable option, but in Spanish only, is the blog La Meteo que Viene.
AND TO END, SOME IMAGES OF SUELZA FROM THE SOUTH (MORE OR LESS).