* 22/07-2014: Peak climbed :)
* 23/11-2014: Page created
Gran Encantat (2.746 m) is the big brother of the "twin peaks" of Els Encantats with Petit Encantat (2.733 m) being the little brother. The peak is located in the in the eastern part of the Aigüestortes / Estany de Sant Maurici national park
in the Spanish Pyrenees. The peak is not among the tallest peaks in the national park, but it is towering above the reservoir of Estany de Sant Maurici (approx. 1.900 m) and the view of the peak across the reservoir is amazing. Estany de Sant Maurici is one of the main entrances to the national park, it is passed by the highly popular Carros de Foc hiking trail
and Refugi Ernest Mallafré is located next to the lake at the foot of the mountain, so access to the peak is very easy. The views from the summit are grand. Towards the east you can see all the way to Pica d'Estats
(highest peak in Catalonia) while to the west you can see the taller peaks in the rest of the national park - and 800-900 m below you have the Estany de Sant Maurici.
Els Encantats seen from Estany de Sant Maurici
Access to the summit typically from Estany de Sant Maurici which is one of the main entry points to the national park. The reservoir can be reached by taxi-jeep from the nearby village of Espot or you can hike approx. 5 km up from a parking lot in the valley. Refugi Ernest Mallafre is located 15 minutes from the reservoir. A less typical and much longer approach is from Refugi J.M. Blanc. For additional info on getting to the national park and the refugios see the Pirineos: Aran-Aigüestortes
Carros de Foc route
Els Encantats seen across Estany de Sant Maurici
Entry points to the summit is typically from Refugi Ernest Mallafré located north west of the summit. From the refugio cross the small stream behind the hut and follow a trail the skirmish around the foot of the mountain. In the beginning it is not too steep, but after approx. 1 km it climbs steeping up through the forest. Around 2.300 m you reach a cross road. A faint trail countinues south up the valley you have been following so far. This is the way you would approach the peak, if you were coming from Refugi J.M. Blanc. For getting to the summit take the trail to the left and head towards Coll Dels Encantats. The coll is located at the head of a steep couloir. Up until 2.400 m the trail is not too bad, but from here and until the coll at approx. 2.600 m it is steep, slippery and with a risk of falling rocks (helmet could be wise for this section). This is in my opinion the most crappy part of the climb.
From the coll it gets even "funnier". The trail is still marked with a few cairns, but the route is not always so easy to see. You should however try hard to follow the cairns, or you'll be stuck in even harder terrain than the actual route. The route is steep, but the crappy loose stuff in the couloir is now replaced by much more stable limestone rock. Most of the time it is easy scrambling, but on 3-4 sections it is harder and you have to concentrate. It is not that difficult, but a fall is fatal, which a cross shortly before the summit reminds you of. I think a spotted a few anchors near the summit, so inexperienced climbers might want to bring a rope.
I have seen a map showing a trail continuing to the Petit Encantat, but I could spot it from the summit, and it was not included in my GPS map.
GPS track of Gran Encantat, part 1. Background is the free TOPO PIRINEOS 6.1.
GPS track of Gran Encantat. part 2
Estany de Sant Maurici seen from the summit
View northwest from Gran Encantat. The snowy peak is Gran Tuc de Colomers.
Petit Encantat seen from Gran Encantat
Panorama towards the west seen from Gran Encantat
It's very advisable to make reservations well in advance if you want to stay in refuges especially in the summer.
Aigüestortes is a National Park with rules about the wildlife, the camping, etc.
When to Climb
"Normal" people would only climb the peak in summer and fall, when there is no snow. "Crazy" people could have a try in the winter and spring as well. If anybody know more about winter conditions let me know.
Els Encantats in morning light