Winter Pyrenees

Frozen lake under North face of Tuc de Canejan

Last weekend, I was invited for a hike over the Pyrenees into Val d’Arran area of Spain by my new local friends. I jumped at the opportunity, dribbling, since I’ve always wanted to try winter alpine climbing but I didn’t know anyone experienced and willing to take a novice like me. But here was someone who grew up locally and had years of hard climbing under his belt. And luckily two weeks of overcast, misty weather cleared for the two days and we were good to go. Minus 4 degrees at ground level with hard frost.

Approaching the first refuge
Sunset looking over towards Spain
Evening cuppa at the refuge/bothie, Julian planning tomorrow’s route under candle light.
I carved a phallus into my walking stick during the night for good luck.
Beginning the morning with this view looking over the French side of the mountain range.
Crossing the Col d’Auéran where many used to flee from Spain during the civil war and again used during the World War in the other direction.
Pyrenees crosses the entire Frensh/Spanish border from the Mediterranean to Atlantic
You can just about see Julian in the bottom corner planning the next move on a ledge. The North face appears far smaller in this picture than it actually is.
We saw so many fast flowing mountain rivers frozen rock solid.
Ultra thin hexagonal ice crystal formation that’s grown to an enormous size of a few centimetres across. Julian told me that these ice crystals tend to form from ground humidity and any snow falling on top of these do not stick well, an early indicator of possible avalanche.
This area has been mined for centuries for many different metals. This red rock is rich in iron oxide.
Julian pointing at his village over the ridge.
We spent about 2/3 of our time scrambling and following animal paths. There were some super steep and slippery terrain that got our heart rate up quite a bit.
Julian in the corner
Changing shoes and speeding up the descent with only a couple of hours of sunlight left.

I’ve learnt how to walk safely on snow, what are the basic dangers of descent and how to read the terrain by quite literally walking in the foot steps. Apart from super intense muscle aches that lasted for the next three days, I’m absolutely revitalised and can’t wait for another trip. Thanks guys!!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Very nice post and looks like you had some really nice time!
    Also, very nice photos too!


    1. cshimasaki says:

      Thanks! It was a humbling experience being so close to big mountains. Can’t wait to go again.


  2. A.shimaski says:

    I love you x


    1. cshimasaki says:

      You missed it by a week.


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