Aneto, sometimes named Nethou in France, is the highest mountain in the Pyrenees and one of the most known peaks of Aragon, together with Monte Perdido and Vignemale. The height of the mountain is 3.408 m for the SGE but the Spanish IGN, French IGN, Alpina and Prames maps show 3.404 m as the real altitude of the peak. On the summit there are many objects: the big metallic cross of CEC, Our Lady of Pilar, San Marcial Chapel, the survey point and some memorial plaques. Aneto is located in Macizo de la Maladeta (Montes Malditos for the mythology), in the Pyrenean axial zone, that constitutes the axis of the mountain range. This axial zone is formed by paleozoics sedimentaries materials and intrusives rocks that were raised in block during the alpine orogenesys. Later, the quaternary glaciers excavated deep valleys in whose bottoms they are conserved more than 2,200 lakes or ibones (mountain lakes). A rest of this glaciarism is the glacier of Aneto (the biggest in the Pyrenees), in regression, formed by a circus of 132 Ha / 326 acres in surface and 50 m / 164 ft in thickness.The ice moves 35 meters / 115 ft each year on the average. Waters of fusion coming from the glacier are going to stop to the Garona river by the karstic drain of Forau de Aigualluts, and also they contribute partly to the Ésera river.
Portillones, Inferior or Superior (NW)
Valle de Coronas (W)
Valle de Llosás (SW)
Puente de Mahoma
The final comb of the normal routes is named Puente (bridge) de Mahoma because Franqueville in 1845 described this ridge as the unique way to reach the summit of Aneto. According to Koran the men in order to go to heaven, once finished the judgement, traverse a bridge narrower than a hair and sharper than the blade of a scimitar. Puente de Mahoma is shorter than 30 m and can be well traversed by its SW side climbing a little. It's not difficult (II+ max) but dangerous because of the cliffs on both sides.
By the French Count Albert de Fraqueville and the Russian Platon de Tchihatcheff with the hunters Bernard Arrazau (Ursule) and Pierre Redonnet (Nate), and the guides Pierre Sanio and Jean Sors (Argarot) on July 20th, 1842. They followed the route in Valle de Coronas, crossing Collado de Coronas (3.198 m).
The first ascent traversing Glaciar de Aneto was by Platon de Tchihatcheff, Auguste Laurent, Pierre Sanio, Bernard Arrazau Ursule and Pierre Redonnet on July 24th, 1842.
First Winter Climb
By the French Roger de Monts with the guides Bertrand Courrèges, Barthélémy Courrèges and Paget Victor (Chapelle) on March 12th, 1879.
Other firsts The first woman was Ernestine Tavernier on August 10th, 1849. The first Spaniards were Jean Manuel and François Manuel de Harreta in August 1855. The first night on the summit was by Henry Russell, Hoskins and Jean Capdeville on July 17th, 1865. The first solo ascent was by Henry Russell on August 9th, 1871. The first Spanish woman was Montserrat Mestre de Baladía on September 19th, 1902. The first skiers were Louis Falisse, Maurice Heïd, Louis Robach and Charles Aubry on April 4th, 1904. The first paragliding descent was by Nil Bohigas and Montserrat Soteras in April 1987.
Leaving by the A-139 road from Benasque in North direction we by hand passed two deviations right that go to the sky resort of Cerler and Baños de Benasque. The third deviation enters towards the Hospital of Benasque, old hospital of travelling and present hotel, and finishes more ahead in Plan de la Besurta. There are some restrictions wich should be respect, see the next section.
The valley of Benasque is the front door to the Natural Park of Posets-Maladeta, having numerous summits that surpass 3.000 meters and up to 13 glaciers in the groups of Posets, Perdiguero and Maladeta, they are most southern of Europe. The first zone covered by the law in the area was the glacier of Maladeta-Aneto, on 21 March 1990, when it was named (together with the glaciers of Balaitous, Infierno, Vignemale, la Munia, Monte Perdido, Posets and Perdiguero) Monumentos Naturales de los Glaciares Pirenaicos. However on 23 June 1994 Parque Natural de Posets-Maladeta was created, including Macizos de Maladeta and Posets so the protected valleys were: Añes Cruces, Cinqueta, Eriste, Ésera, Estós, Pez, Salenques and Vallibierna. The total surface is now 33.267 Ha / 82,203 acres. Among the flora riches there are 56 endemic plants and 5 high altitude species like Edelweiss, Papaver Alpinum, Saxifraga bryoides and Silene acaulis. In the fauna, otters, chamoises (know as sarrios in the area), moutain goats, squirrels, marmots, many species of eagles, bearded vultures, capercaillies, Tengmalm owls, ptarmigans, newts...
No permits are required to visit the Natural Park of Postes-Madaleta or to climb Aneto. But there are some prohibitions because of the crowds. It's forbidden to drive on the forest trail of Vallibierna from Plan de Senarta. Neither is permited to drive from Hospital de Benasque to Plan de la Besurta from 8 AM to 8 PM in winter. In summer the road is always closed to private vehicles. There are regular buses from Benasque with stops in Plan de Senarta and Hospital de Benasque.
Maps and Sketches
Aneto 1:15.000 SUA Ediciones, 2005 (thanks to rbartolome)
Maladeta-Aneto 1:25.000 Ed. Alpina, 1999
Bagneres de Luchon 1:25.000 IGN 1848 OT TOP25
Benasque 1:35.000 SUA Ediciones, 2000
Maladetas (Aneto) 1:40.000 Ed. Prames
Benasque-Ball de Benás Parque Posets-Maladeta 1:40.000 Ed. Pirineo, 1998
Aneto-Posets 1:50.000 Rando Éditions Nº 23
Bagneres de Luchon 1:50.000 IGN 1848 Serie Orange
Benasque 1:50.000 SUA Ediciones, 2004. In French
Benasque 1:50.000 SGE 32-9 (180), 1989
When to Climb
In 1858 a thermometer was left on the summit during a year, it showed a minimum of -24ºC / -11F after the winter. In July it registered 3 ºC / 37F during the day but other measurement taken in 1863 was 11ºC / 52F.
The yearly precipitation on Benasque is 1.239 mm and the monthly distribution: J (73.7), F (79.4), Mr (101.2), Ap (90.7), My (132.3), Jn (112.8), Jl (86.3), Ag (95.3), S (115), O (126), N (123.5) and D (103.8). So there is not a real dry season. Total rainy days per year: 71. Total snowy days per year: 21. On the high mountains like Aneto the weather is very thought and there is still no precise data about it. What it's true is that the fog, blizzard, snow and ice are common factors in winter and spring. The autumn also could be bad, at least from October to December, with many rainfalls, hail and even snow. In summer be cautious with evening storms and always be informed at the hut or in Benasque until the climb. Summer is the season with more electric storms. The number of storms per month in Benasque (average) are Jn (3), Jl (4) and Ag (4).
Baños de Benasque (1.680 m)
Little and old spa placed on the forest trail taken from the road A-139, has thermal waters at 30-70ºC / 86-158F and a pool with sulphurous water at 37ºC / 99F (6.50 euro + 3 euro the bathing cap). Private, 47 rooms (single and double), opens from June 15th to October 5th.
Hotel-Spa Hospital de Benasque (1.758 m)
It's an ancient Camino de Santiago pilgrim's hostel that has been rebuilt after eight centuries. It's possible to book only the hotel, without the spa services.