South Face North Face
Culfreda (known as Batoua by our french neighbours) is in fact a ridge placed on the border between Spain and France with a southwest-northeast orientation. It’s got three summits: the main one (Southwest Culfreda) is the first reached by mountaineers on the normal route, and two secondary summits (Central Culfreda and Northeast Culfreda) also standing over 3000 meters above sea level complete the ridge. The normal route is graded F (I-II UIAA at the very worst), the north face is a huge rocky wall that falls over the french valley of Rioumajou, the nearby massifs of Bachimala and Posets offer great views and the valley of the Cinqueta de la Pez could easily be one of the most isolated and wild spots of the spanish Pyrenees. Need anything else to make it attractive?
For the south face routes
, start from Plan (spanish Province of Huesca). From Huesca, take road N240 to Barbastro (49 km). After that, it's road C1311 northwards (9 km) until you find a crossing and follow the signals to El Grado. Turn left there and enter road C138, which will take you after 59 km to Aínsa (via El Grado and puerto de El Pino). There will be only 39 km left then, first by driving northwards on road HU640 (across Labuerda and Escalona) and turning right after Salinas for a final 13 km drive to Plan. This is a rather narrow road, try not to take in the dark and driving will be much more enjoyable (apart from the great views!). After Plan, the final approach to Biadós Hut takes a further 3 km by road and 10 km more of a not too good dirt road. When you reach the final fork of this dirt road, turn right for Biadós and left for Tabernés Hut.
Vallée du Rioumajou
For a climb from the french side of the border
, the only available road approach begins at the road linking Arreau and the Tunnel de Bielsa/Aragnouet. Drive south from Arreau, towards Spain, for 15,5 km on road D929. When you get to the village of Tramezaïgues turn left (south) to enter the Vallée du Rioumajou. The road goes south for 12 km and finishes by a camping area of Rioumajou. The Hospice (hut) de Rioumajou is placed about 4 km southwards, at an altitude of 1560 meters above sea level, and can be reached by a dirt forest road (according to my information, open for motor vehicles)
A note for big vehicles:
If you are driving to Biadós with a big car, a van or a 4-wheel drive (such as a Land Rover or similar) remember that the first two kilometers of the dirt road (after leaving San Juan de Plan) are specially narrow and only allow one vehicle at a time. You might find yourself in trouble and needing to drive backwards if you find someone coming the other way.
Up to this moment, I haven't been able to find any suitable bus connection to Plan. The best I can say for the moment is to catch buses to Ainsa (ALOSA
). After that, there are buses going north towards Bielsa but they don’t run every day and I have no information about their possible stops. Therefore, it looks like you will have to arrange some other transport (taxi or whatever) in order to reach Plan and Biadós from Aínsa or Bielsa. I will post any other news on this subject as soon as I get them
The closest airports are placed in Barcelona (about 300 km away), Zaragoza (about 200 km) and Toulouse. From this last airport you can get to both sides of the mountain (the border can be crossed easily by means of the nearby Tunnel of Bielsa).
The nearest rail stations in Spain are the ones at Sabiñánigo and Barbastro. This means that a minimum of eighty kilometers will stand between you and Culfreda from any of them. Additional transport will therefore be required (see "Bus access").
There are no special troubles or limitations up to my knowledge. No need for permissions, of course, nor any bureaucratic problems. Be particularly careful to avoid leaving any traces of your stay in the area, nevertheless: the upper valley of Gistain (on the spanish side) is mostly unspoiled and we would all like to keep it like that, and the french vallée du Rioumajou might be legally protected (though I am still trying to find out something more on that subject)
Huts and Camping
There are two huts placed on the southern slopes of nearby Bachimala.
The Biadós hut
("Viadós" in some maps) stands at the entrance of the Añes Cruces valley, and is open July to September, during Easter holidays and for the weekends between Easter and July. During all those times there are people guarding it, and offering dinner and breakfast services. Whenever the guards are not there, a smaller space is open for 6 or 7 people.
The Tabernés hut
is placed west of Biadós, on a small prairie at the beginning of the De la Pez valley. It’s never guarded, just a small house with two rooms. The smaller one has a fireplace and a low table with some primitive seats around it. The bigger room has (August 2007) a big table with ample sitting space and lots of hard (concrete) floor to lay your sleeping bag on. There usually are some old mattresses, but only those arriving to the hut in the first places will enjoy them ;)
On the french side, there's the Hospice de Rioumajou
on the upper valley of the same name.
External LinksBiadós Hut