Just outside of the northern most limits of the National Park of Aigüestortes (in the Spanish province of Lleida, Cataluña) rises the Montardo d’Aran, 2.833 meters high
. It is, together with Tuc de Monges, one of the easiest climbs of this area, and it offers a perfect view over the Vall d’Aran (Aran valley) to the north, the 3.000ers of the Besiberri’s ridge to the south west, Punta Alta peak and the National Park to the south, and even the Montes Malditos (with Aneto and La Maladeta) to the west. For all this, the Montardo is, definitely, the most popular summit of the region
. All the normal routes on the mountain are very simple and easy and are recommended for less experienced mountaineers.
This mountain is relatively safe to avalanches even during the winter months. With snow, the Small Montardo offers a very interesting couloir (aprox 40°) to the south, that can be skied down for experienced skiers.
All the normal routes make a final approach to the summit from the SSE saddle
, at 2.756 meters. This saddle can be directly reached from the north-east (passing next to the two small alpine lakes of the NE slopes), but it can also be reached coming from the east ridge of ‘Small Montardo’ (2.781 m), the ‘twin’ peak of Montardo, that rises to the south-east of it. This east ridge of Small Montardo can be approached directly from the south, coming from Refugio de Ventosa i Calvell, or from the western Refugio de la Restanca, over the glaciar basin of the Restanca and the Saddle of Crestada (2.475 m). All these routes can be rated as F
Montardo's south slopes
The closest international airport
is the one of Barcelona, known as ‘El Prat’.
From Barcelona with private vehicle
: road N-II or highway A-2(Barcelona –Zaragoza) till Lleida. From there, national road N-230 to El Pont de Suert and Vielha. There are two possibilities:
-When planning to climb Montardo from the south, starting from the Refugio de Ventosa i Calvell
: at the village of El Pont de Suert (125 km from Lleida), take road L-500 (two kilometres after El Pont de Suert) to the Vall de Boí. 23 kilometres further the road finishes at the Spa resort of Caldes de Boí. From here a smaller road continues 4 km further till the ‘Embalse (dam) de Cavallers’ (1.785 m). Leaving the car on the parking, the road continues to the right side of the dam, where the mountain track to the Refugio de Ventosa i Calvell (2.220 m) starts.
East ridge to Montardo
The Refugi de Ventosa i Calvell
, from where one of the ascends can be done, is reached in two and a half hours over a mountain path that starts at the ‘Embalse de Cavallers’ (1.785 m), 4 km from Caldes de Boí. From the parking next to the dam, the road continues to the right side of the dam, where the walking path starts along the right side of the water (northern bearing). This part of the path can be dangerous in winter when a steep slope of (hard) snow falls towards the icy dam’s shore. There are, at least, two points on this part of the path, with avalanche risk. Passed the dam, the track rises to the grassy plains of Riumalo (1.890 m), where the path continues next to the left bank of the river (walking with the river to the left). A wooden bridge crosses the riverbed and a steep walk among granite rocks and walls starts (Barranc Llastres). Once up, the terrain levels again and there is a clear view over the ‘Estany Negre’ (Black Lake) to the right, some meters down the valley. The walk continues on eastern direction along the north side of the lake for about 15 minutes till the hut is seen over a big granite promenade.
- To climb Montardo from the Refugio de la Restanca
: continue on the national road N-230 till Vielha. From there, there are 7 km on the road C-142 till Arties (1.140 m). Once passed the village of Arties, and just after the bridge (1.400 m) over the river, the tarmac disappears and the road becomes a dusty track (only for 4x4 driving) next to the river (River Valarties). This road finishes after a second bridge next to some buildings at 1.650 m high. From here starts the path to the Refugio de la Restanca (2.010 m).
By bus from Barcelona
: the company Alsina Graells connects Barcelona with El Pont de Suert, passing by the city of Lleida. Arties and Vielha are also connected with the same bus company from Barcelona.
: the nearest train stations are the ones of the city of Lleida (aprox. 155 km) and Pobla de Segur (aprox. 50 km).
No fees or permits are needed to climb Montardo.
Nevertheless, when approaching it from the Ref. de Ventosa i Calvell, we have to know that we are moving in the National Park of Aigüestortes, a protected natural area. Therefore, we will have to be specially careful with animals and plants, as well as taking care not to leave our trash behind. Camping is not allowed in the boundaries of the park.
When walking on the routes outside the park (from Ref. de la Restanca or from the north-east approach), we will have to be careful with nature too. The tent can be set, just to pass the night, in an area free of trees over the 2.000 meters. In the mourning the tent has to be out of sight of the rangers.
There are two good maps of the area:
- "Parc Nacional d'Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici
", edited by Alpina
at 1:25.000 scale. It is a edition with two maps, one of which reflects Montardo. ISBN 1050069. This map is more advisable than "Vall de Boí", of the same editor, but just covering a smaller area for the same price.
- "Parc Nacional d'Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici
", edited by the Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya
at 1:25.000 scale but much more detailed than the one of Alpina.
To check the weather in Spain the best is to take a look to the official spanish weather forecast office at Instituto Nacional de Meteorología
The weather in Cataluña can be checked at Servicio Meteorológico de Cataluña
, (in Catalan).
For a much more local look at the weather there is the weather station of Barruera