Auza (you might find it in many maps as Autza
, in basque language) is the local giant of the valley of Baztán. A massive mountain covered by forests in its lower areas and grass in the upper ones. It's not specially high, but offers climbs between (depending on the chosen trailhead) 500 and almost 1200 meters high. It's not really attractive -either- for those looking for technical difficulties, but if you enjoy hiking across forests and green fields - or you simply like to know new places it's undoubtedly an interesting summit. Being the highest mountain around the area, if you choose a clear day wide panoramas will reward you from the top.
And apart from that, some of the routes offer a chance to discover the nice (and secluded) waterfall of Xorroxin
. That's an additional attraction...
The closest main towns on the spanish side of the border are Pamplona and San Sebastián (Donostia in the basque language). Both cities are linked to Elizondo by the bus company called “La Baztanesa”. From Elizondo there’s an additional seventeen kilometres to the trailhead of the Col of Izpegui (Ispeguy on French maps), and no public transport as far as I know. A taxi might be required therefore.
If driving from Pamplona
, follow road N121A to Oronoz-Mugaire, turn right (east) at this population towards Elizondo (road N121B to “Puerto de Otsondo” and “Francia”. Keep going for an additional 5 km after Elizondo. You will reach a crossroads where signposts will mark to your right road NA2600 (to “Puerto de Izpegui” and “Francia”). Leave the car at the parking lot placed on the French (eastern) side of the col, after the buildings.
The valley of Baztán is the spanish (western) approach to Auza
If driving from San Sebastián /Donostia
follow road N-I east towards the French border. Just before crossing the border, turn right (south) for road N121A towards Bera de Bidasoa and Pamplona / Iruña. It is a 39 km drive by the beautiful Bidasoa valley and at Oronoz you will join the previously described drive from Pamplona
: St Etienne de Baigorry, most easily reached from the town of Biarritz (about 60 km away). If coming from Bordeaux or from the spanish border, you must follow highway A63 up to exit 4. Leave the highway at this spot and keep driving following road D932 along the river Nive towards Cambo Les Bains. When you get to this village, turn right into road D918. Get going all ahead, without leaving it, and this very same road D918 shall take you to the village of St. Etienne de Baigorry.
Closest main railway stations
On the spanish side Pamplona (70 km away from Col de Izpegui), San Sebastián/Donostia (69 km away from Izpegui).
On the french side Biarritz, St. Jean de Luz and Orthez
Closest main airports
: Pamplona (70 km away from Col de Izpegui), San Sebastián/Donostia (69 km away from Izpegui, following the described driving route) and Biarritz (55 km away from St.Etienne de Baigorry)
No need for special equipment on the normal routes, except for that advised by weather conditions. Winter equipment is obviously needed for winter climbs and when Auza is covered by snow sensible mountaineers will carry an ice axe and crampons (just in case...).
Any mountain higher than anything around it is prone to suffer special weather conditions, and the valley of Baztán is really close to the sea. Therefore, foggy or cloudy days and sudden weather changes are a rule here. Consider seriously carrying waterproof clothing, a map and a compass (or a GPS receptor). If you get caught by fog, they might be really useful.
Camping and lodging
Camping Baztán (1st class) is placed at Errazu, near road NA2600 to the Izpegui trailhead. There are some other camping sites on the french side:
- Camping Narbaitz (St.Jean Pied de Port)
- Camping municipal de l'Iroulegy (St.Etienne de Baigorry)
Check the links section.