Very close to the point where the three spanish basque provinces of Vizcaya, Gipúzcoa and Alava meet, rises a 1117 meters high limestone solitary mountain known as Udalaitz.
Despite its solitude, the Udalaitz has a very famous neighbour: Anboto, a classic top among the basque mountaineering. In fact, the Udalaitz belongs to the same mountain range as the Anboto, Alluitz and the rest of the tops included in the "Peñas del Duranguesado" range, but it is separated from the rest with the deep valley of 'Atxondo' and the Besaide pass. It is on this pass where the three basque provinces meet and where the monument to the basque mountaineer stands as a symbol of union of all lovers of the basque mountains and as a remembering to those ones who have died in them.
The North Face of the Udalaitz shows the wildest nature of this mountain: vertical cliffs, monolithic ridges and steep grassy slopes falling towards the Kampazar pass, the roadway between the villages of Elorrio and Arrasate. The South side descends less abruptly towards the villages of Udala and Arrasate, in Guipúzcoa. Nevertheless on this southern slopes the bare limestone rock of which the mountain is made cuts through the grass and comes out to make the walking a very tedious work, specially for those ones who decide to go out the path.
The summit ridge forms a sequence of rocky tops separated with more or less deep cuts. From west to east we ascend from the 882 meters at 'Ustakoatxa' to the 968 meters of the 'Gaillargain' and to the 'Erdikoatxa' (1002 mtrs) to reach, finally, the Udalaitz. Further, more secundary tops fall to the east.
There is no red tape for this mountain.
When To Climb
The Udalaitz can be climbed during all the year. The climate change of the last years has affected the nature of this mountain too and winter ascends, that some years ago were hazardous, have become almost perfect summer walks, with delicious temperatures and plenty of sunny stable weather, even in December or January. A couple of weeks per year snow fall covers the upper slopes and ridges of the mountain and, an ascent to the summit under these conditions offers much more pleasure than a hot crowded summer walk.
Udalaitz can be started from Elorrio in Vizcaya (northwestern approach) or from Arrasate-Mondragón in Guipúzcoa (southeast approach). Both villages can be reached with public transport, whose timetables and routes can be found at: Basque Bus Company, with a very handy "being in..." (Estoy en...) and "going to..." (Voy a...) search engine.
There are three main ways up this mountain:
1.- From the 'Iguria' district, at the village of Elorrio: this route begins from a remote group of basque cottages two kilometers away from the village's center of Elorrio, at the road to the village of 'Arrasate' through Kampazar pass. The road to these cottages starts to the right from the main road at the point where this main road makes a bending to the left. This way up to Udalaitz takes us almost through the whole west ridge and, therefore, gives us the possibility to ascend all the roky peaks of the mountain. This route ascends 867 meters in, aproximately, 3 hours (2 hours in descend).
2.- The hardest route is the one on the N face from the Kampazar pass, at 457 meters. This is a short steep climb through the grassy slopes of the north face which avoids the rocky more difficult monoliths of the top. It makes 640 meters up and takes 1 55' hours from Kampazar pass to the summit. In descend this way takes 1 hour.
3.- The shortest and one of the favourite routes to the top is the one from the upper district of 'Udala' (479 meters), which can be reached from the village of Arrasate. It ascends 610 meters in 1 45' hours, and descends in 1 hour. The route passes next to the remains of the "San Valero" temple.
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