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.

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When we started our walk, we thought we wouldn't need our headlamps for a while. The moon, which was more than halfly illuminated, seemed to reflect sufficient sunlight onto us, in order to not only find our way, but also to make out potential obstacles on the ground. But since the forest, we had to cross, was rather thick, we soon opted for full power enlightment. 

Without much conversion, each of us seemingly in auto pilot mode, we slowly made our way up, every now and then losing the right path, but then relocating with more or less effort. At midnight, we decided to rest for the night as soon as we'd find a suitable spot, which half an hour later was the case. At that moment, we were at an altitude of some 2150m, according to Xavi's GPS based altimeter.        

Our bivvy place was rather sad, for all we were able to find were some 4 meters of more or less plain path, just the space we needed for unfurling our sleeping pads on the ground. A half buried rock I placed the rope on, made for an excellent pillow. So, we slept in the middle of the way, expecting to be woken up by early hikers treading onto us the next morning. As if Xavi wanted to avoid just this, he set the alarm bell on 5.30. 

We started the next day without or faces being treaded on, and both of us were surprised, that we felt well rested after so little sleep. Shortly after 6 we started walking again, a little lighter than the day before, because we hid our sleeping bags, pads and bivvy sacks somewhere in the woods. After a short while we left the forest and soon had to put on crampons. 
Pico Le Bondidier as seen from Coll de Cordier
After some hours of steadily gaining altitude, we were in a position from where we could observe the various possible paths ahead. Our decision was to first access Collado Cordier, and from there to try us at Pico Le Bondidier, the most difficult of our potential objectives.
One of the midway obstacles 
Pico Le Bondidier
Without problems, others than those caused by exhaustion, we arrived at the col, just the moment another guy got there via the Renclusa route - the first person we saw that day. At the col, we deposited our backpacks. A ridge still seperated us from Le Bondidier's highest point, but as far as we could make out from where we stood, we didn't deem it necessary to get geared up with our harnesses and rope. With the mixed conditions of rock and snow, the ridge turned out to be slightly more tricky than expected, and at two points we almost thought it had been wiser to bring some gear with us, but finally we kept scrambling ahead and got to the summit safe and sound.  

Pico Sayó, Coll de Cordier
Retracing the ridge in retrograde direction, as usually happens to be the case, was much faster and also appeared to be easier, probably because by then we already were familiar with the problems to face. In no time we got back to our packs at the col. By now, we could make out more people around, either on the top of the surraounding peaks or on their way to get there. While we were having a drink and chatted with a French skier, a husky-dog passed by. For a moment, the animal seemed to doubt which peak to summit, but then went straight for Pico Sayó. So did we, moments later. The French guy, however, didn't. On top of Pico Sayó, we not only met the dog, which apparently was enjoying the view, but also another French skier. The animal, however, wasn't his either. 
Summit photo with the lost husky at Pico Sayó
North-East panoramic view from Pico Sayó, left: Pico Cordier, right: Pico Bondidier
The four of us then joined forces, and together we went to Pico Cordier. There, the husky joined another group of mountaineers, who hopefully guided it down to the Renclusa hut, the place, I'm sure somebody was waiting for it. 
Final ramp to Pico Cordier
By then, we had set foot on 3 of the 5 summits close by. More and more, though, we felt worn out, and in order to make it back to the car, we still had 1800 metres to descend. We decided, thus, to call it a day and leave Pico Mir and Punta Delmàs for another day.
Xavi at Coll de Cordier, Pico Le Bondidier to the right
Just as expected, the way down was very long and demanding. We both felt quite Happy when we finally reached the car. After reviving our feet in the chilly water of the Ésera river, we soon were on our trip back home.

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