STAGE 1 - Hiking in to Refugio Goriz
After driving into Torla and spending a night at our favourite campground, camping Rio Ara, we headed into the park. The first leg of the journey was from the Ordesa Parking lot to Refugio Goriz. In the summer, the parking lot is closed to public traffic so we caught a bus from the tourist office just south of town where there is a parking lot to leave your car. We left the parking lot on foot at 12:00pm.
The sign at the trailhead states that the hike in to Refugio Goriz is 4h30m. We were determined to beat that time. As we set of down the trail we passed many beautiful waterfalls. Most of the trail was shaded by trees, which was a treat as the sun was brutally hot.
After about 2 hours we reached Cirque de Soasa and Cola de Caballo (the horses tail), which is a big waterfall at the head of the valley. Cows also graze on the valley floor and you're always within earshot of their giant cowbells which clang constantly as they groom the grass. Many people walk in to this point to see the cliffs and the mountains. Here the climbers are separated from the day walkers.
Here you have a decision to make. There is a direct route up a scree field and straight over a rather steep exposed crag. This route is protected with chains and bolds but is scary for anyone who's afraid of heights of doesn't trust their footwork. Last time Laura and I were here we had a bad experience on the chains so we decided to take the alternate route, a longer but much gentler series of switchbacks off to the right that lead all the way up to the first grassy terrace above the valley floor.
In another 1h30m we reached the refugio. We were very happy to have beaten the posted time by an hour. To anyone who visits the Refugio and doesn't have dinner: you're missing one incredible meal. First we were served lentil soup, then a salad loaded with fresh carrots and tomatos, then ground pork patties with rice, and to finish it all off desert was a cheesy lemony flan type thing. We went to sleep very satisfied ready for the big day tomorrow.
Stage 2 - Monte Perdido
It was a very cold night. We were camped out in a tent outside of the refugio and even with all our layers and the tent closed up we shivered all night. We woke at 7:00 to find the ground covered in frost. After a breakfast of oatmeal with raisins and shaved coconut and stashing our extra gear outside the refugio we set off at 9:00am. We were told that the trip to the summit would be 4h00.
The first part of the hike took us over many ridges and crags and through many flat terraces until we reached Lago Helado, a glacial lagoon, at around 10:30. There were already climbers on their way down from the summit and they told us it was another hour and a half to the top. At the lagoon the temperature dropped abruptly, probably because of the way the wind is funnelled between Cilindro de Marbore and Monte Perdido. We put on our warm layers and our shells and headed up the ridge towards the last big scree field before the summit.
We very carefully headed up the ridge and onto the scree field. Many of the climbers who were on their way down were running and spraying stones everywhere. We were careful to avoid them for fear that they might take a tumble straight off the cliff. The risk is much less without the snow but if someone were to slide it wouldn't be pretty so we took things slow. By 11:45 we were on the summit with incredible views of Pico deAnisclo, the Anisclo valley, the Ordesa Valley and the Maladeta Massif far in the distance.
Stage 3 - The Journey Home
We stayed on the summit long enough to take a couple dozen pictures and a few videos, and to have a quick bite to eat. At 12:00 we headed back down to the refugio. The scree field was much easier to navigate and felt safer on the way down than it had on the way up. The hike back to the refugio ended up taking a total of 2h30m. We stayed there for an hour to eat, drink, and rest our feet.
It being only 3:30pm, we decided not to risk another freezing night high up in our tent and we left Goriz to walk back to the parking lot where we could catch a bus back to our car. The way from Goriz down to the valley floor took 1h10m and the way to the parking lot took only another 1h40m. Needless to say we were moving fast, motivated by the thought of a cold drink and a warm bed.
Although Monte Perdido is not the tallest peak I've climbed in the Pyrenees, it is the most beautiful for the formations that surround it. Pico de Anisclo is beautiful seen from the summit of Perdido. The canyons, seen from above, have eroded away whole sides of mountains. Perdido for me was not the most challenging climb but certainly has been the most thrilling.
Check out the Video of our trip: