Village of BenasqueAneto
, the highest peak in the Pirinees (3,404 m / 11,168 ft). I saw it in a road atlas. There wasn't another mountain higher than this, surrounded by huge glaciers and within one of the most important mountain ranges in Europe, actually a dream for me. Heloise (FRA) and I found our way to it.
I drove south from Angers, France to the town of Bagnères de Luchon in the French Pirinees. We asked for information at a local outdoor store about the approaching to Aneto.
Barrabes Outdoor Store
The weather didn't seam to improve, it rainned constantly since our arrival. We continued driving south towards Spain, crossed the border and got to the village of Benasque
(3,784 ft). We hung out there for a day. The forecast looked pretty good for the weekend, so we took our time visiting a few stores and hiking a bit around the valley.
By the end of the day we decided to give Aneto a try, so we rented 2 pairs of snowshoes at La Casa de la Montaña
and bought two more climbing items at Barrabes
, one of the biggest outdoor stores in Europe.
By night, we camped in the car, 12 kms north of Benasque near Hospital de Benasque. A nice camping area right in the Benasque valley at the shores of the Esera river.
Heloise and I started going up at 10:30am. It was still raining, but we kept hiking up by the road for 30 minutes until we got to La Planicie de la Besurta
(1,920 m). Once there we continued going up for 45 more minutes to the Refuge of La Renclusa
La Renclusa Refuge
Aneto as seen from Portillon Superior
We took a short rest and then climbed up to Piedra del Frances in order to get to know the route to climb the next day. It was 7 pm when we turned back and headed down to the refuge. We had a very relaxing night in the refuge, good hot chocolate (Cola Cao) and warm bed covers.
Woke up at 4:30 am and left the refuge after having an energetic breakfast. The route up was crowded, but most of the climbers headed up towards La Maladeta Peak.
Climbers heading up to Aneto, first morning hours
The sun rose up and the views became more amazing. All surrounding snow covered mountains turned to orange color as they got hit by the first day's sunrays.
Traverse from Portillon Superior
We headed up southwest direction by the base of the Pico La Renclusa until getting to the begining of Glaciar de la Maladeta.
From this point we traversed east to Portillon Superior
The snow was pretty soft from there, and even our snowshoes were useless while walking on the snow. We took the snowshoes off and continued traversing towards Glaciar de Aneto
Once at the glacier the snow harden significantly and the climb got more enjoyable. The weather was perfect, with a blue clear sky and windless.It took us one more hour to get to the base of the summit, which got steeper as we continued going higher. Suddenly clouds rolled in but we were about to get to the top.
Glaciar de Aneto
Heloise didn't feel to confident to cross the sharp edge that leads to the summit, so she remained there while I continued up to the summit. Twenty more minutes and I got to Paso de Mahoma
, a thin pass almost sharp as a knife and with a deep drop to both sides of it.
Paso de Mahoma drop off.
I felt so happy of my achievement and accomplishment.
I spent 3 minutes at the top. Snaped a couple of pictures and got back to where Heloise was waiting at. I gave her a huge hug and we started on our way down to the car.
Our descent to the valley was long and exhausting. We walked straight down to Aigualluts
. There were many small avalanches on the way down to Aigualluts which didn't seam to be a threath. We sled down on our butts to gain speed.
Once at the base of the valley I hiked up again to the refuge in order to retrieve Heloise's sleeping bag from the refuge while Heloise continued down to get the car.
Heloise and I were complety sweaty and couldn't resist taking a bath at the shores of the river, it was really cold!.
Back in Benasque we returned the gear we rented, and said good bye to the Pirinees, one of the most beautiful places I've been in my life. I'm looking forward to go back and enjoy of its mountains and the friendship of its people!