Snowshoeing in Spain
A belated update on the terrific hut-to-hut snowshoe trip in Spain at the end of April. The last snow of the previous week had consolidated and the sun shone as we left our lovely hotel in Vielha for our drop-off point above the pretty village of Arties. Setting off along a summer 4-wheel drive track, we almost immediately needed our snowshoes at 1600m. After reaching a small hut and a welcome break in the sun, we headed up through a steep forested area. Our first day’s destination was the Restanca Refuge (2010m), which we arrived at after breaking snow and zig-zagging through deep snow to a small bowl below the dam lake which the refuge overlooks. We had a great meal and good time at the refuge chatting to fellow snowshoers and ski tourers from Spain and France.
The scenery in the Aigues Tortes National Park is truly stunning and, apart from a few ski tourers, we had the pristine landscape all to ourselves. A perfect clear blue sky greeted us the following morning as we snowshoed around the lake. We left early to stay in the shade and avoid too much soft melting snow. We slowly zig-zagged up a very steep slope, which required keeping some nerve as a ski tourer above us also traversed the slope without skins making it very difficult. My main aim was to keep the group out of range in case he fell down the slope into our group. Our efforts were rewarded the fantastic views at Col de Cresdada (2475m). After a rest here, we were in full sun for the rest of the day as we crossed a plateau to reach our descent towards some frozen lakes and a short climb to Col de Caldes (2568m). We took a spur to reach easier ground and circumnavigate the lakes to start the climb to the col. Again we were rewarded with stunning mountain views to enjoy while having lunch in the sun. Our final descent went along the frozen river valley to reach the Colomers Refuge, also located on another dam lake. Another enjoyable evening with excellent food.
Our final day was a descent below the dam and across a pretty plateau leading to a wide valley. We reached the hotel at Banhs de Tredòs, where we could remove our snowshoes and continue by walking down a snow-ploughed road, again in glorious sunshine. We were picked up here and headed to Bagnères-de-Luchon in France for our final night.
Next year we will run another hut-to-hut trip from 15-19 April, also using Vielha in Spain as our base. This is a good time of year for such a trip as the daylight hours are longer, the snow generally compacted and the weather more settled. It is a spectacular mountain experience, true wilderness snowshoeing and great fun. Check out our Snowshoeing page (http://www.mountainsandmaps.com/index.php/snowshoeing) for Mountain and Maps other snowhshoe trips for 2015 if hut-to-hut isn’t for you. Hope to see you in 2015.