Jul 1, 2017

Maladeta and Pico Abadias

This time, Xavi and me were joined by David, yet another of Xavi's semi-human friends who is able to run for 38 hours in the mountains while covering a distance of 170km and a difference in height of 10. Our main goal was Pico del Collado de la Rimaya, the next summit in the ridge that reaches out from the Alba summits into the direction of Pico Aneto. So far, we've been able to make it to the top of the first 8 summits of that ridge and we found it was time to try out some more.

Our plan was to start our hike at Puente de la Cregüeña (1500m) and get to a little pond at 2950m. There, we would rest for the night before trying our mountaineering skills the next day.

It was Sunday the 7th of July and after an early lunch in Benasque we approached our starting point. We were ready to start walking at around 3pm. A rather steep and very continuous uphill hike led us to the chilly waters of Ibón de Cregüeña (2520m) after about 3 hours. We were in no rush and it took us some 2 more hours in even steeper terrain to reach our cosy sleeping spot in the vicinity of Ibón de la Maladeta, which was entirely hidden by a layer of snow covered ice. David was usually to be found either well ahead of us or somewhere far behind, moving around rapidly, as if his body didn't rely on that old-fashioned gimmick commonly known as oxygen.

Ibón de la Cregüeña
Under the biggest rock to be found just east of that pond, there is a comfortable bivvy spot for at least 3 tired mountaineers, and next to the very same rock, 3 more can pass the night behind a low wall of stones that serves as a windshield. I opted for the less protected spot that would enable me to observe the sky during the night, while my companions chose the exquisite comfort that only a cavity under a rock can offer.

While Xavi and me spent our time having dinner and improving the sidewalls of my open air shelter with even more stones, David decided to climb Picos Sayo, Cordier and Bondidier, 3 summits close by that Xavi and me had explored during one of our previous trips.

Us 3
The night was cool but not too cold and every hour or so I woke up because my sleeping pad could not disguise the fact that I was resting on a pile of rubble. Apart from turning around so as to find new and less aching bones within my body to lie on I made good use of the opportunity to observe the night sky. Uncountable planes, numerous satellites, two meteors and myriads of stars made well up for the complains of the more protruding parts of my skeleton. 

Morning sun  on Pico de Aragüells
Next morning, all of us felt reasonably well rested and we were keen to do some mountaineering. With our harnesses on, we crossed a snow field that led us to a promising diagonal fracture we already had made out the previous day. 
On our way to the diagonal fracture (just above the stoney islands to the right); David somewhere in the background
Once there, some cairns indicated that this indeed was a possible way up to Pico Maladeta. The climb up that fracture was rather exposed at some spots but well managable. Just short of the Maladeta summit we temporarily dumped our backpacks and with our rope and some climbing gear at hand went for Pico del Collado de la Rimaya. Two cols separated us from the final climb. Although we spent the better part of two and a half hours trying to reach the second of these (Collado de la Rimaya (2332m), the one that gives name to the summit), we couldn't find any way through. 

Somewhere close to Collado de la Rimaya.
We already had made use of our rope before and didn't dare to recover it, since we were not sure whether we would be able to retrace our way without the help of a fixed rope. Since we didn't find any way of making it to the col, we finally receded to our rucksacks. From there, a short walk led us up to the summit of Pico Maladeta, where we met two more mountaineers. 
Aneto as seen from Maladeta (3308m)
From Pico Maladeta the ridge continued to Pico Abadias, and although we initially were not sure which of the following peaks the actual summit was, we ended up climbing the correct one. The climb wasn't easy, but still far easier as compared to what we had tried doing earlier that day.
Pico Abadias (3271m)
Arriving at Collado Maldito

Some exposed and cautious scrambling on rocks partly covered by snow or ice went on for another half hour and finally led us to Collado Maldito (3198m), where all the difficulties soon disappeared. From there on, we just had to descend to the Aneto glacier first and thereafter follow down the better part of the normal route from the Pyrenees'  highest peak.
Inexplicably we somehow lost the trace that should have led us to the Renclusa mountain hut via a spot known as Portillon Superior and therefore decided to descend to Aigualluts from where we woud follow a different path that would finally lead us to La Basurta. Once we got there, we purchased some bus tickets and soon were back at our car. 

Descending the Aneto glacier

Despite not making it to the top of Pico del Collado de la Rimaya, we nevertheless agreed that it had been a well enjoyable mountain trip.

Jul 30, 2016

Pico Mir and Punta Delmas

After almost one year in my new job which really made me understand the concept of "full-time", I've finally been on a mountain trip again. Friday after work Xavi and me met (also for the first time since our last trip) and off we were to Benasque, the Pyrenees' main hub when it comes to climbing 3000m summits. Our plan was to continue the Alba mountain ridge which we had started three and continued two years ago. Those two trips had successfully seen us summiting 7 of the 9 peaks comprising the ridge between the "Gendarme de Alba" and "Pico Cordier". Unfortunately however, there are two more we had not stood on yet: Pico Mir and Punta Delmas. Not missing a certain logic, our plan foresaw to climb these. In case we would have time left we'd also go for the next mountain of that ridge: Pico del Collado de la Rimaya - a peak of secondary importance but considerably higher difficulty. We planned to have dinner in Benasque, drive to "La Besurta", the last spot accessible by car, and then either sleep there or start our hike in order to gain as much altitude as possible before resting for the night.

Jun 29, 2015

Picos del Infierno

Vista from Hell's Central Summit
Back in 2008, Xavi proposed to climb three summits known as Picos del Infierno, which translates as Summits of Hell. Together with Jordi, a friend of his, we actually gave it a try, but during our climb somehow took a wrong turn and finally ended up climbing 4 neighbouring 3000m summits, known as Algas Norte, Pico Algas, Pico de las Argualas and Garmo Negro. Xavi, furthermore summited Aguja de Pondiellos... an account of that story, albeit written in German, is to be found here.
Hell's Summits, however, remained to be summited.

Mar 8, 2015

The Bad Step Hill - El Turó del Mal Pas

Xavis on Turó del Mal Pas (interesting shadows)
And again a bike trip to "The Bad Step Hill", or as it's known here in our regional language: El Turó del Mal Pas. This time, Xavi was so nice to join me and he even brought his telephone with him, on which he runs an application called Wikiloc, able to generate a fancy track of GPS-waypoints, it neatly places into GoogleMaps or similar. 

Feb 22, 2015


Railroad crossing in Mesopotamia
A couple of kilometres upstream from my village, there's the confluence of the rivers Llobregat and Cardener. For years I wondered how it must feel to stand on the last tip of terra firma between the two rivers and last weekend I set out to experience it first person. 

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Jan 28, 2015

Turó de Mal Pas

Diversion dam at Torre del Breny
My personal map of exploration has one white speck less. Last Sunday I made it to a place I had wanted to visit for quite a while: el Turó del Mal Pas - The Bad Step Hill. 
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Dec 28, 2014


28.12.2014: Montserrat as seen from Carena del Cellers
It has been more than 5 months since my last post. Regarding excursions worth mentioning, nothing really exciting has happened. On a more personal level, however, the birth of our son, last September, certainly marks a before and after in Elisabet's life and mine. The fortunate event also asks for a bit of commitment, which in turn results in rather few opportunities to leave home for a day or two or even six hours at a stretch.
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Jul 20, 2014

Els Ermitanets

Panoramic view southwards from a point close to Els Ermitanets
This time I wanted to explore an area I had come by on one of my previous trips that brought me to Les Balmes Roges. At one point, the forest road offers five different paths on which to continue. Number one and two, I tried the last time: the former being a narrow one to my right, which led me to the summit of a hill known as Puig Gili, and the latter being the one that actually brought me to Les Balmes Roges. This time, I was eager to find out what the three remaining possibilities had to offer.

Jul 13, 2014

Puig de la Balma

Power line at Coll de la Creueta
My last bike trip went to a regionally well known, albeit visually little spectacular, rock shelter known as Puig de la Balma. I had it on my to-do-list for months, if not years, but because of my priorities and available motivation always decided against it when it came to choosing a suitable biking destination.

Jun 28, 2014

La Brèche de Roland - The Roland Gap

Col de Sarradets: Summits, Sarradets Mountain Hut and Roland Gap to be seen

It must have been 10 years, since my friend Ernst first mentioned La Brèche de Roland to me - The Roland Gap, a huge natural gap in the mountain ridge that separates the French Gavarnie Valley from the Spanish Ordesa National Park. Since then, I had caught a glimpse of it from considerable distances every now and then, but never had I actually made it there. Some months ago, when Xavi and me were talking about a possible mountain trip for the summer, I proposed one, that not only would cross the gap, but also would make use of the Sarradets mountain hut, located in the very vicinity of it, and even would include the ascent of some 3000m peaks close by.

Jun 14, 2014

The Delivery Girl's Bum

Sign post close to Monistrol de Montserrat
The Delivery Girl's Bum (El Cul de la Portadora) had caught my attention years ago and from the moment I first saw it, I felt an inexplicable urge to make it mine. Some three years ago, I had explored the area around her Bum, but the moment I had wanted to draw in for the final attack, so to say to lay hands on it, it unfortunately began to rain. Not wanting to mount no Bum in slippery conditions, defeated, I withdrew from my undertaking.

May 11, 2014

Le Bondidier

North-Eastern panoramic view from Pico Cordier, Gregüeña lake in the centre
Last October, Xavi and me climbed the 4 Alba summits. Now, we wanted to ascend some peaks of the next mountain cluster of the same mountain range. That cluster is made up of Punta Delmàs, Pico Mir, Pico Sayó, Pico Le Bondidier and Pico Cordier. Since we preferred not to repeat the route, which passes by the Renclusa mountain hut, this time we chose Puente de Cregüeña as our starting point - a route a little longer and with an altitude difference of 500 additional metres. We therefore opted to start walking as soon as we'd arrive there, which was Friday at 9.45 p.m.

Apr 27, 2014

Can Putxet

Eastern panorama from Puigdoure summit
During my previous bike trip to a nice rock shelter known as Balmes Roges, I caught a glimpse of yet another abandoned estate in our local natural park: Can Putxet. It's not that I hadn't been aware of it, but it never really caught my attention. The other day, though, my glimpse at Can Putxet was from a different angle and suddenly I felt I should further explore it. Yesterday, I gave it a try.

Apr 20, 2014


Full moon over Carcassonne
Years ago, I remember, I usually felt some unease, when in France, probably because I don't speak any French and therefore somehow felt vulnerable there. Since Elisabet dominates French almost as a native, things are different now, and some days short of Eastern we went on a short holliday to our Northern neighbour country.
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Mar 8, 2014

Balmes Roges

View from Puig Gili
Not only another biking article, but even another biking article to a rock shelter... this truly gets monothematic. The Balmes Roges (Red Rock Shelters) are a well known landmark in our local Natural Parc, I had never been to. Last Saturday, however, I decided to have a look at them. My trip, again, got me into the vicinity of "El Farell" first, where this time I took a left turn I'd never taken before. The path then led me by a number of "tines", which could be described as bowls, basins, or a kind of silos, which until, say one hundred years ago were either used as fermentation tanks during the production process of wine or for storage of the finished beverage. The god of wine, Baccus, by the way gave name to the district I'm living in (Bages). Apart of the "tines" I additionally was offered nice views of my favourite abandoned estate around: El Farell.
 El Farell estate and surrounding
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