Pyrenees are a wide playground for mountaineering; all level challenges, top quality rock, wild environment, affordable prices and also glaciers, even if small and retreating fast.
Last week Brecht and Ben came to take a week long course. The goal, to learn the techniques of security, self-rescue maneuvers, logistics planning …. in few words, be able to perform comfortable and safely on a high mountain environment in D and Md itineraries.
We already knew eachother as a colleagues in summer glacier guiding in Iceland, so I prepared for them a fully challenging and tight program.
After picking them up at St Gaudens, we drove straight to Sant Maurici, to sleep under the shade of the Encantats in Mallafré hut.
Early morning with temperatures more typical of August, we headed up for the Central Couloir of Encantats, still with enough snow to progress but not to avoid the mixed climbing at the base.
Once up at the fork, 3 nice pitches got us to the top of Encantat Petit, four hours after leaving the shelter. The views and the wonderful atmosphere of the Central Couloir were reflected in the smile of the Belgians.
Next day, after one more night at Mallafré hut, we headed the next target, Esperó Raiers al Peguera. After couple hours walking we started to enjoy the excellent granite of Peguera. A first section of “running belay” followed by two pitches on perfect diagonal cracks, one aerial dihedral and a tricky chimney brought us to the final ridge, nice and long. An excellent activity to pick up fluency and confidence on stiff boots for future challenges.
The 3rd day time appears doubtful, so we dedicate it to practice self-rescue maneuvers in climbing, anchor set-ups, aid climb techniques and the correct use of friends and nuts at Baguergue crag.
Before going back to the high mountain, we went for a real practice on ridge climbing at Tossal de St Salvador, probably the best training school with awesome views and lots of vulturs.
Time to face our great objective, Salenques-tempestats ridge it’s a 2 km long granite stairway to Aneto’s summit, probably the most famous and covet route of Pyrenees. We moved to Aneto area and bivouac at Besurta. After a noisy night we hiked up to Aigualluts and Barrancs Valley to Salenques Col. A quick deserved break and we started scrambling up the ridge. Here they played with everything we had trained in the past days, so they performed much more solid and with good pace along this acrobatic and aerial first section. Lots of scrambling, rope working and climbing and we arrived late afternoon to the top of Margarida Peak, were we had time to melt some snow and enjoy our dinner before dawn.
A bivouac on top of Margalida, with summer temperatures and unbeatable views is one of those experiences that will last long time in our memories.
Having climbed half of the total ridge lenght and eager to get to the top, we continued scrambling, climbing and balancing along this spectacular ridge, approaching Aneto’s summit, were lots of people were summiting via normal route. A short break and some photos at the highest peak in the Pyrenees before crossing the scary Pas de Mahoma and face the descent.
Sometimes you need to adapt to the conditions, and after realizing the snow was knee deep soft, we decided to use our matresses as a sleds and ride the steepest slopes all the way down to Aigualluts, where we arrived affter only 30? of fun and laugh.
A very complete week enjoying springtime in Pyrenees and the friendship of this two fun and motivated belgians.
See you soon!!
Climbing Ecantat Petit
Stiff boot climbing Esperó Raiers at Peguera
Practicing self rescue manouvres at Beguergue
St Salvador NE ridge
St Salvador NE ridge
Still lots of snow at Barrancs Valley
Climbing Agulles de Salenques
Bivy at Margalida’s peak