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.

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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.

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