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Thursday, 28 November 2019

Essex Unitary Authority County Tops


Walk Description
A drive round day with Gina to visit some peaks 'local' to our home in flat old East Anglia. Don't get to do this very often:- a.) because there are not that many summits in this area, b.) don't want to complete them all too quickly.
The focus was the three Essex Unitary Authority County Tops outside of the M25 ring, but mission creep was in evidence with picking off two bonus TuMPs, raising awareness there may be more summits within a days drive locally than I think.
Struck me today the range of summits you get to visit.
This year exemplifies that range from Pico de Aneto, the highest point of The Pyrenees, my highest, most prominent and most isolated peak reached in July, to Thundersley Hill visited today in the corner of an Essex residential cul-de-sac.
The height, prominence, isolation or any other characteristic can be used to determine a summit but the common memory of all routes is the places you get to visit that you never new existed.
Today it was the Green Man near Criers Wood. A cosy gastro-pub that offered over 55's a two course chef prepared meal for £7.50.
Peak bagging gets you to these different places with the opportunity for progression mixed with skills acquisition and confidence to reach the highest point in The Pyrenees, along with the satisfaction and purpose from planning visits to any summit.
Purpose, Challenge, Adventure, Fulfillment - the four reasons peak bagging has become such a passion.
Some summits satisfy all four. Some do not, but what I find is there is always one.

Walk Statistics

Walk Date - 28 October 2019
Walkers - Steve Smith, Gina Smith
Accommodation - From Home
Start Point - Various
Start Time - 12:32
Finish Point - Various
Finish Time- 12:43
Total Duration - 0hrs 11mins 
Overall Average pace - 0.71mph
Total Distance Walked - 0.13 miles
Total Height Ascended -7.00metres

Peaks visited

TuMPs [1]
Langdon Hill
TuMPs [0]
Criers Wood
Thundersley Hill
Unitary Authority County Tops (110E - 184E,W&S))
Heath Mount (47=E, 70=E,W&S)
London Road (47=E, 70=E,W&S)
Langdon Hill (boundary) (48E, 71 E,W&S)
E: England
W: Wales
S: Scotland

Criers Wood Photographs

Manholes in road may be clue to location of Criers Wood high point.
Click on photograph to view slide-show

Heath Mount Photographs

Highest point on edge of Great Wood ( Belfriars Nature Reserve) at Belfriars Park Road entrance
Click on photograph to view slide-show

London Road Photographs

Looking back along London Road towards Southend from London Road Southend-on-Sea current county/UA top (joint)
Click on photograph to view slide-show

Thundersley Hill Photographs

Konny Brook Junction with Kiln Road. HP is at end of Knny Brook to the right near Blackwater cul-de-sac end.
Click on photograph to view slide-show

Langdon Hills Photographs

Heading back up High Road, Westley Heights towards St. Mary & All Saints Church
Click on photograph to view slide-show

Friday, 11 October 2019

Gitano


Walk Description

First of two P600s planned today. 90 minute drive with Gina from Cabopino driving past cloud capped Gibraltar and towards black clouds shrouding peaks of Parque National Los Alcornocales.
Barred but unlocked access in El Cuartón.
Decided to use access near Puerto Hondo off N-340 in case locked on return.
Mapas de España showed a track all the way to the summit, presumably access for comms workers. I had hoped to use access from El Cuartón at 36.0682°N, 5.5376°W but an unlocked barrier was down and did not want to risk it being locked on return without being sure of an alternate access point.
Plan B was to return to N-340 and use the track to Casas del Tio Noria. We will still end up at the crossroads on the 464m spot height but with a known exit route. 
The track with compacted stone is perfectly adequate for a road vehicle, as long as you do not drive too quickly, and remains so all the way to the gated and open entrance to Parque National Los Alcornocales. Beyond this point there are a couple of hairpin bends and at one of these I had a little difficulty with wheel spin along a rut requiring me to reverse a little and take a slightly different line.
Not a lot to see adjacent to Gitano summit.
Summit is 40m away, top right of picture
It took nearly 1 hour to drive the 9km to the parking near the summit and was greeted with low cloud and wind driven rain wearing just shorts and tee shirt. with the summit being only a short walk away I decided to keep with the shorts and head for the summit. Gina was quite happy to stay in the van and even more happy when I reappeared 10 minutes later.
During that time I had photographed the summit surmounted by a comms building with the highest point looking to be near the SE corner of the building. There is a tor further south about 30m away which could be as high so after photos went to it just in case it was higher. Ground is a little uneven with a short scramble to the top. Not a problem really but felt a little more difficult than it should have been wearing only sandals. Looking back at the main summit I could not decide if it was higher through the cloud but visit both and it is not an issue.
Summit to south looks as high. Visited just in case despite only wearing sandals
Returning to the van soaked, Gina refrained from making any comment. The return journey was quicker than the ascent and also at the 464m spot height took the road leading to the gated access at El Cuartón. It was a tarmac road and more importantly the gate was still unlocked so guessing it is not likely to be a problem, but if it was locked could always return to the N340 via Casas del Tio Noria.
From here it was another 90 minute drive to La Sauceda and the trailhead for the second summit of the day - Aljibe.

Walk Statistics

Walk Date - 11 October 2019
Walkers - Steve Smith, Gina Smith
Accommodation - Camping Cabopino, Cabopino 
Start Point - Parking at comms building near summit (36.09823°N, 5.54101°W)
Start Time - 12:32
Finish Point - Parking at comms building near summit (36.09823°N, 5.54101°W)
Finish Time- 12:43
Total Duration - 0hrs 11mins 
Overall Average pace - 0.71mph
Total Distance Walked - 0.13 miles
Total Height Ascended -7.00metres

Peaks visited

Spain/Portugal 600m Prominence Peaks (168S - 185S&P - 2165E)
Gitano (68S - 70S&P - 99E)
Spain/Portugal 300m - 599m Prominence Peaks (1000+)
NONE
Spain/Portugal 150m - 299m Prominence Peaks (3000+)
NONE
Spain Autonomous Community High Points (19)
NONE
Spain Province High Points (52)
NONE
S: Spain
P: Portugal
E:Europe

Final walk from previous trip

2019
July

Other walks on this trip

2019
August
27th Oitz
September
02nd Umbría
22nd Cerro del Lastonar attempt with Gina
25th Pico de Mijas with Gina
October
11th Gitano
11th Aljibe
15th Cruz de Juanar

Route


More Photographs
Full set of captioned photos providing journal and description of key parts of ascent, descent and summit photographs.
Road looks OK to drive to Gitano summit. Does get worse but still drivable later (just).
Click on photograph to view slide-show

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Cerro del Lastonar & La Concha


Walk Description

This was our second visit to El Juanar area this trip. The first one being eleven days ago on the Sunday 25 September 2019, when we made an attempt on La Concha and the less well-known Cerro del Lastonar, but main P600 summit of the small upland area of Sierra Blanca seen from Marbella. All of the tourist information and local guide sheets mention La Concha and suggest it as a suitable day’s activity if you want a change from the beach or sightseeing. What they do not mention in too much detail is Salto del Lobo (Wolve’s Leap). Situated about two hours from Refugio El Juanar on the NW side of the 1219m spot height, which from now on will refer to as Cerro de Salto del Lobo as suggested in the summitpost.org log entry, was as far as we got on the first attempt. The exposure albeit not too bad was too much for Gina.
Today’s attempt was not planned. We had intended to explore the other hiking trails including the Miradors along with the summit of Cruz Juanar. Saving ourselves about 800m hiking each way we drove past last Sunday’s parking spot near Refugio El Juanar and parked near the locked barrier. It was here we met Gary and Clair who Gary insisted were both on the way to La Concha.
Third sign for La Concha. Turn left off Ojen to Istan path and follow PR-A 168 towards La Concha
Setting off together at a fair old pace chatting we followed the same route along the rough stone track past Mirador del Corzo turn off and taking the right fork sign La Concha towards the derelict Cortijo del Juanar. At this point I harboured hopes Gina may be encouraged by Claire to have another go at Salto del Lobo. We turned left at the third sign for La Concha leaving the PR A-167 ascending through pine trees towards Collado de Juanar. As we left the pine trees and the rate of ascent markedly increased I noticed Claire starting to struggle to keep up. Turns out she was suffering from a hangover.
When we reached Collado de Juanar we offered our goodbyes pointed out our sign to Cruz Juanar and the sign for them pointing towards La Concha. Unfortunately, for Gary, Claire did not seem too keen. Fortunately for me however she suggested Gary and I go for La Concha whilst Gina and her wait for us just before Salto del Lobo. Gina was more than happy with this idea and clearly so was I.
Point near Salto del Lobo where Gina found too much exposure on right and where we turned back on first attempt.
I did still suggest we stick together and continue to La Concha by avoiding Salto del Lobo by heading left of the 1219m spot height from the col with the 1221m spot height. I had instinctively started on this less worn track but was called back by a group returning from Salto del Lobo pointing out we had gone wrong or at least left the main track. However once at the col the girls declined my suggestion. They both said they would wait an hour then head back and wait for us at the Refugio.
Looking back at Salto del Lobo fro south flank of Cerro del Lastonar. Cruz de Juanar on right
Gary and I set off for Salto del Lobo. Nothing too difficult for experienced hikers, but obvious care needed as there is still plenty of scope for slips and falls with severe consequences. We managed to miss the short chained section by inadvertently scrambling above it and in no time we back on a sandy track heading round the south flank of Cerro del Lastonar looking back at the 1229m spot height. Studying the route around the now left and south side of Cerro de Salto del Lobo clearly looked doable as testified by Rob Woodall’s peakbagger log on 05/10/2010, but probably with similar jeopardy for the inexperienced hiker as Salto del Lobo.
Continuing west around Cerro de Lastonar we missed the cairn marking the direct route straight up to the P600 summit, but in all honesty the P600 is the minor event of this hike.
Gary taking Optional ridge walk on route to La Concha. Easier/safer path to the right
As you progress around Cerro del Lastonar flank, a spectacular view of La Concha comes opens up along with the ridge and narrow saddle you have to traverse. Unfortunately with camera focus playing up I did not manage a decent shot. Good excuse to return on next visit to Costa del Sol.
Again with experience it is a great ridge to walk along but as is often the case there is a less exposed path lower down to the right.
Probably because we stuck to the ridge, we missed the main path and ended up on the south flank losing the track altogether. Having realised the mistake it was an easy ascent up rough ground back to the ridge. Soon after regaining the ridge we reached what seemed to be the highest point and what we thought was La Concha but checking GPS to drop a waypoint indicated La Concha and associated trig pillar was further to the west.
La Cocha East top 70m away from La Concha looks and measures higher. Cerro del Lastonar beyond,
then Salto de Lobo and finally Cruz Juanar
70m further on there is another highpoint but it looks lower. No dispute however that this low point is La Concha, there is even a remnant of one of the corners of the destroyed trig pillar plinth. Altitude measured on the phone confirmed it is 0.9m lower but it is not an accurate or indeed definitive measurement. It is the spot height and I guess influenced by local tradition that this point should be named La Concha as it is the point that looks like a shell viewed from Marbella.By now it is 15:30 meaning we have used up the 1.5 hours we told the girls we would be doing the return trip, so fairly certain they will have headed back to the Refugio by now. We set off back this time sticking to the main ridge. I have to admit, by now I was unexpectedly feeling really tired. It is testament to the tough terrain and ground confirming La Concha ad a challenge. Also it was my first real hike since Pico de Aneto two months earlier so guess I had not retained my hill legs as much as I had hoped.
Having gained ridge, after leaving ascent route, heading east towards Cerro del Lastonar summit
Either way it would be remiss to not visit La Concha as part of going up Cerro del Lastonar. Talking of which we still had to climb. After the chains near Cepillo del Enebro we decided to carry on back round the flank of Lastonar rather than continue up the ridge from the col. Can't confirm if this was the best route but it did not take much effort to reach the ridge once we decided to turn left and head towards the ridge.
We did find a path along the ridge and after turning right it was a straightforward trek to the summit. Not such good views as from La Concha but it was the P600 and for me whole purpose of the hike, despite La Concha being the highlight. Summit photos complete we continued straight over the summit to the NE and descended the other side along a vague rarely used path that brought us back to the ascent route marked by a small cairn that we had not noticed on the ascent. In hindsight we could have used this route to go straight to Cerro del Lastonar if it was the only summit we planned to visit. But as already mentioned La Concha with its views over Marbella along with Atlas mountains in Morroco, not to mention Gibraltar along with the approach ridge really are the highlights of the day. Leaving the whole purpose of ascending the P600, Cerro del Lastonar a worthy 3rd. Having re-joined the main path the return took another hour and was the same as the ascent, but this time using the chained part of Salto del Lobo and back to the van.
Back at van near Refugio El Juanar after being turned back from Salto del Lobo
A smashing day out made possible by Gina and Clare’s understanding, even though they frightened the life out of us by hiding behind the gate posts where the van was parked. Gary had his car keys parked at the Refugio and Gina had our van keys parked near the gate. We did wonder if they would realise and even fantasised about them bring up cold beers and putting them in the van fridge. Well can’t expect everything.
The only downside was the auto focus on my phone camera playing up meaning a significant number of shots were blurred. O well, who knows, maybe on a subsequent trip to Cabopino I can return with a working camera. The views from La Concha are certainly worth the effort.
Michael Coates and Gina at summit of Cruz de Juanar
Click on photograph to view slide-show
We did in fact manage a third visit to the Sierra Blanca on 22 October 2019. This time with Michael and Amanda Coates to climb Cruz de Juanar. The route taken was exactly the same from Refugio parking to Collado de Juanar, then leaving path and taking signed path and short 400m but steep ascent gaining over 100m from the col. Straight forward path to follow with a short scramble just before the summit. Gina's first taste of real scraambling which she managed without a hitch. Not really a lot different to Salto del Lobo. Just goes to show the power of the mind to stop you doing something is equal to the power to make you do it.
Usually would expect to do this summit either on way to/from La Concha/Cerro del Lastonar, but as mentioned above was feeling effects of not doing much hiking since July. In any event it gave a good reason to return and even now all three summits have been climbed am likely to return with Gina to explore many of the other paths around the Refugio and various Miradors.

Walk Statistics

Walk Date - 03 October 2019
Walkers - Steve Smith, Gina Smith, Gary, Claire
Accommodation - Camping Cabopino 
Start Point - Parking near locked gate on track 800m after Refugio de Juanar (36.57711°N, 0.65000°E)
Start Time - 12:20
Finish Point - Parking near locked gate on track 800m after Refugio de Juanar (36.57711°N, 0.65000°E)
Finish Time- 18:55
Total Duration - 6hrs 35mins 
Overall Average pace - 1.22mph
Total Distance Walked - 8.04 miles
Total Height Ascended -705.00metres

Peaks visited

Spain/Portugal 600m Prominence Peaks (168S - 185S&P - 2165E)
Cerro del Lastonar (65S - 67S&P - 96E)
Spain/Portugal 300m - 599m Prominence Peaks (1000+)
NONE
Spain/Portugal 150m - 299m Prominence Peaks (3000+)
NONE
Spain Autonomous Community High Points (19)
NONE
Spain Province High Points (52)
NONE
S: Spain
P: Portugal
E:Europe

Final walk from previous trip

2019
July

Other walks on this trip

2019
August
27th Oitz
September
02nd Umbría
22nd Cerro del Lastonar attempt with Gina
25th Pico de Mijas with Gina
October
03rd Cerro del Lastonar
11th Gitano
11th Aljibe
15th Cruz de Juanar

Route



More Photographs

Full set of captioned photos providing journal and description of key parts of ascent, descent and summit photographs.
Route map, Statistics and other route info to follow. 

View over Marbella from La Concha 
Click on photograph to view slide-show

Friday, 26 July 2019

Posets (nearly)


Walk Summary

The plan was to get to get to ‘Al Parking de la Espigantosa’ about midday, ideally using our own transport then set off on the two hour hike and 2000' ascent to Refugio Angel de Orús.
Once at Orús we would set up our tents then spend the rest of the day in the common area of the Refugio, buy a meal and a drink followed by an early night under canvas ready for an early start next day setting off for Posets summit by 6am.
That was the plan. Unfortunately the clear blue skies and sunshine forecast earlier in the week for Friday and Saturday, changed to rain and thunderstorms from 3pm on Friday continuing throughout Saturday.
Cascada d’Espigantosa
So in an effort to beat the weather we decided to set off early morning and catch the first bus from Eriste at 6am, still overnight near the Refugio but with this plan - after we had summitted Posets. We did arrive a little earlier to check if we could drive to the car park. The sign at the barrier said you could up to 28 July (tomorrow) but the locked barrier at 42.59012°N, 0.49491°E clearly said we could not.
To be fair the online bus timetable for 2019 was from 28 June. So reversing the short distance back to the A-139 we found the car park and bus stop more or less opposite on the way in to Erista.
We joined the 13 others and paid our €10.50 return fair (single €7.00) because we obviously planned to return.
First of two signs for PR36. Just follow direction to Refugio Angel de Orús
It was breaking dawn when we set off but by the time the bus dropped us off at ‘Al Parking de la Espigantosa’ at 6:25am daylight was making it’s appearance so unlike Aneto, headtorches were not required for the early part of the walk. We had 2-3kg extra weight on our backs with our tent and sleeping bag but mitigated this by taking up two empty 1 litre bottles we expected to fill after the overnight gear had been set up near the Refugio.
Navigation is easy, straight forward and reasonably signed following the PR36, a couple of cairns, yellow/white paint markings and with one exception, an obvious path. The second and last sign was at 42.62418°N, 0.46676°E, but the path was still easy to follow.
Mick checking on the obvious path to the left if it is the way to go.
Right turn at the cairn is correct.
The one exception is at 42.62568°N, 0.46550°E near a cairn and a couple of metal stakes hammered in to the ground. The path clearly continued to the left of the cairn as verified by Mapas de España IGN but very soon fades in to undergrowth. Other people had made the same mistake evidenced by some signs of bushwhacking as we looped back to the right to find the path higher up, but we ended up back at the original cairn. In hindsight, in fact writing this, has made me realise it would have been better to have just turned round and followed our route back to the cairn. Taking the correct option to turn right at the cairn we found a slightly less well defined path than the one we took earlier but it continued in the right direction veering to the left around Fuen Royas and eventually towards the Refugio, following brown painted patches fixed to trees at regular locations.
Welcome site of Refugio Angel de Orús. Forcau Bajo beyond
With the slight diversion it took us 2 hours 10 minutes to cover the 3.2km distance with 600m of ascent of fairly straight forward hiking albeit with a few steep sections, particularly at the beginning and towards the end. Once at the Refugio we intended to set up camp then go in to the Refugio for a coffee before setting off for Posets. Wrong. There is a clear sign as you approach the Refugio that camping is not allowed. So we think we will camp a little higher up after coffee and maybe a croissant for breakfast. Wrong again. We find the Refugio is in the process of clossing until 11:30am and in any event unless you are a resident and pre-ordered meals you cannot just rock up and order food or drink on spec. Not sure if this is policy in all Refugios, but certainly something to check up on in future.
By now it was 9am and the first band of rain arrived, so we used one of the lockers to stash our camping gear. We later found out that lockers were only for use by residents but the manager kindly turned a blind eye.
By the time we had charged our empty bottles from the faucets at the back of the refugio and donned our waterproofs it was 9:30am as we set off in steady rain up the GR11.2 from the refugio towards Posets. We had also decided we would not bother camping tonight but make it another big hike and return to the bus stop in one day. After all there really was plenty of time before the last bus at 8:30pm, but would mean another 15 hour hike similar to what we did up Pico de Aneto 3 days earlier.
Once again the route is well signed by very regular red/white paint flashes to keep you on track, especially when the path disappears, giving way to scrambling over large rocks and boulders. Eventually you reach the first marker post for the GR11.2 at 42.63080°N, 0.45452°E.
Turn left at three way finger post.
If in doubt look on rock. It is correct information
The red/white paint marks continue to guide the way until you reach the Val de Llardaneta. Here there is a three way finger post all pointing to the GR11.2. I presume the bit we came up is a spur from the main route to the refugio. Turn left at this post, if you have any doubt it is the right direction you can see some kind person has painted a red arrow on the rock within Posets written nearby. More scrambling over rock and a bit of easy climbing brings you into the Val de Llardaneta proper. The rate of ascent slackens off to almost zero and you come to a collapsed metal bridge over Torrente Llardana at 42.63514°N, 0.44722°E. Also an opportunity to top up water bottles, but after the severe stomach upset we both had within two days and still are 5 days later I am questioning if the water was to blame or it really was down to combination of physical exhaustion and heat exhaustion by not allowing enough time to recover from Aneto three days earlier.
Collapsed metal bridge over Torrente Llardana
Mick seemed to be flagging, but admitting nothing, and this was before we took on any stream water. I asked him several times, without mythering I hope, if he was OK and he kept assuring me he was fine. So I just kept an eye on him stopping regularly to let him catch up and did not ask anymore. This was probably his first signs of going down with the severe stomach upset we both went down with.
Anyway after crossing the Torrente Llardana the landscape opens up to a very pleasant level walk, but don’t get carried away, this is the GR11.2 heading to wherever it goes. It certainly is not Pico de Posets. 
Turn right of GR11.2, indicated by splashes of red on cairn and rocks.
Follow path to gap between Tuca Alta (centre) and Diente de Llardana (left)
Make sure you turn right off the GR11.2 at 42.63757°N, 0.44280°E, some rocks and even a cairn have been daubed with red paint to help.
From here there is 300m of ground to cover to gain 100m before veering left when you reach the bottom of Canal Fonda.
Looking to your right and the direction of the path you can see the full extent of Canal Fonda and the route we need to take all the way up the gully to Collado del Diente between Tuca Alta and Diente de Llardana. An ascent of nearly 400m in 900m of ground covered.
Start of lower ice flow at bottom of Canal Fonda
Again the path is obvious to the bottom of the first ice flow which gave way to scree after about 150m, because of the scree and having to take off crampons I decided to give it a go without crampons and just toe kicking in to the soft ice which worked out fine. The Scree looked and was a little steeper, but apart from my aversion to ascending, and descending for that matter, scree was easily navigated by following the worn path zigzagging through the stones.
By now it was midday and the weather behind us looked to be closing in and heading our way. On reaching the second ice flow I was well ahead of Mick, so waited there for him.
Coming off first ice flow up Canal Fonda with steep scree and
second ice flow ahead, 700m beyond and in to weather is Posets summit
During this time a group from the same bus we used were on their way down from the summit. I asked them in Pidgeon Spanish if they were the last persons coming down, to which the answer was ’No’.
One of them also saw my footwear and asked if I had ‘crampeones’. I said ‘Yes, but might not bother’, they all insisted they were necessary and warm clothing as well. So I stuck my waterproof coat on and bottoms before putting on crampons and swapping trek poles for ice axe.
Mick had also arrived and was putting on his waterproofs deciding to give it a try without his spikes, just his axe. Within 50m he was heading for a rock to the side and putting on his spikes. The locals advice was good.
Whilst putting on his spikes the weather moved in with heavy rain to our backs and the odd rumble of thunder. We looked at each other apprehensively and jointly decided to carry on for now, pleased we already had waterproofs on because we would have been soaked before getting them out. Almost sleet, the heavy rain seemed to turn to ice as soon as it hit the ice on the ground. We were fine in waterproofs, but it did occur to me that when I bought crampons and axe for a Scottish Winter Mountaineering course back in Jan 2015 I never expected to be using them in July with hat and gloves least of all in Spain - A bonus extra use eh?
One of the high points for me of winter mountaineer is progressing upwards, kick-stepping in crampons, using axe shaft as third point of contact, even though it was slinging it down with rain. However the elation changed when the thunder intensified and the rain continued when we reached the 3017m spot height at Collado del Diente.
Posets summit ahead, right of centre from Collado del Diente.
Of course the photo does not capture the jeopardy
700m in direct line of sight was Posets. So close yet so far away. We could not see it however and gaining odd glimpses only made it look more out of reach. Looked like the best line for access was via Espalda de Posets, a rocky ridge gained by a 250m scramble slightly off to the right which looked precarious, in the wet and adverse weather conditions followed by a further 200m ascent to the Poset summit. Gven the conditions and the fact the rock was slippery with exposure on one side I had my doubt about the wisdom of continuing. Mick was also not to happy about giving it a go and given his natural enthusiasm to try anything a go, confirmed my feelings. Mick felt the same, so with great disappointment and only about 750m/800m of ground to cover to reach the summit, we jointly decided to make the sensible decision and turn back.
Diente de Llardana from Collado del Diente.
Thought might pick this off on way back from Posets.
Not from this direction
Descent was exactly the same route as ascent. Heal stepping in crampons with axe poised for arrest was mode of descent down first lot of ice to the scree. Mick covered the ground much better than me over the scree, so it was him waiting for me on the second ice low. Having taken crampons off to go over scree I did not bother putting them back on, relying on winter boots to heal step and axe ready to arrest a slip. Mick had already got his spikes on and we both got down without incident. We continued on path to base of Canal Fonda, turned left to descend to the GR11.2, then continued to the broken bridge over the Torrente Lardana. At this point I felt really tired and unusually for me hungry so we both took the opportunity to take on more water refuel with energy bars and nuts. We spent about 30 minutes sat on a rock recovering, musing if we had made the right decision to turn back (we think we did) and discussing if we could manage a return visit this trip. I came to the conclusion I could not muster the will to slog up this same track within a few days feeling the way I did. In any event we would need at least 3 days to recover and we had Refugio Goriz booked in 3 days’ time to go up Monte Perdido the next day. We were counting the the 4 hour hike and 900m of ascent to the refugio as part of our recovery process!!!!!!! From here it was back to the red/white paint marks to guide us down over rock and back to the path. Each step down was an effort, picking a spot to avoid aching bones and muscles, taking any more strain than they needed. Yet we knew we had a 2 hour hike out after we reached the refugio, itself at least an hour away.
Refugio Angel de Orús finally makes an appearance,
at least there is not far to go, but still at least 2 hours to bus stop
We eventually reached Orúz at 3:50pm where we met the two younger lads, everyone seemed younger today, who we met on the Collado del Diente coming of the summit soaked. One of them only had a Kagool over a thin shirt – and he was wearing shorts – and he only had trainers on without of course crampons, his mate had the proper gear, but this lad was totally unphased and just got on with it. Sometimes the enthusiasm and fitness of youth gets you a long way, but I dread to think how they would have managed and even kept warm if something went wrong. Even there backpacks looked too small to carry anything useful. Anyway they advised us the next bus from ‘Al Parking de la Espigantosa’ was at 5pm and the next and last was not until 8:30pm and invited us to run down with them. That’s a laugh we could only just walk and we politely declined and said we would only slow them down. As they set off we checked the timetable I had downloaded. They were right. What a daft timetable, but I suppose it is designed based on past usage.
View from Refugio Angel de Orús.
Two hour hike to bus stop at Al Parking de la Espigantosa.
Descent route follows valley round to right.
So after a 20 minute break and remembering our tent and sleeping bag in the locker, that’s a another 2-3kg strapped to our packs we could do without having to carry, we set off for the car park expecting a long wait on arrival for the last bus. The descent was uneventful though arduous given our tired near exhausted bodies. Mick had slowed down again, but so had I. As we reached near the bottom just as we were passing Cascada d’Espigantosa on our right and the rate of descent becomes quite steep, I heard Mick say “It’s about time I realised I am 65 and choose a more suitable hobby” or words to that effect. I sort of ignored him but came out with something like “…you only feel like that now. You’ll feel different when you have recovered”. But it did confirm to me that something really had not been right with Mick all day. Think I was suffering from the same but to a lesser extent. Although we were both running on empty coming off Aneto, I don’t think we felt as rough as we do now. We finally reached ‘Al Parking de la Espigantosa’ at 5:58pm, nearly an hour after the previous bus and 2½ hours before the next and last. We both slumped to the ground and finished the water we had left between us set for a long wait for the bus. The short rest seemed to lift our spirits and Mick suggested we walk the bus route back to Eriste. It is 3km in a direct line but with the 7 or 8 switchbacks at the bottom, more than 4km of walking. We reached our vehicles at 7:30pm dead on our feet totally drained. Plus we had to decide to return to Camping Ixeia, 20 minutes away, or head for Odessa Valley where we need to be next and have all of Saturday and Sunday to recover without having to drive 2 hours tomorrow. We chose the latter and made it as far as Camping Fiscal. So we all but managed Posets in one day, without use of the refugio. I know we did not make the summit, however and had the weather been kinder the final 800m up and same down would have taken a lot less than 2 hours still leaving plenty of time to get the last bus back to the car park. The final 4km down instead of using the bus tells me we had the legs. Having said that there are some important lessons we both learned:-

  • We need more than 2 days to recover from a 15hour hike climbing a 3000m summit even if we start half way up we still did 1600m of ascent on Aneto and 1750m on Posets, even without reaching summit.
  • For me the return to Posets will involve at least one night in Refugio Orúz, might even stay the second night to enjoy the feeling of summitting the second highest mountain in the Pyrenees. Given we were 350m short of summit by height and still did 1750m on the failed attempt as well as walking 5km more makes this a bigger mountain, on these terms, to climb than Aneto.
  • Look to use Refugios whenever there is a big walk in. Aneto did not really apply as it was only a 40minute hike from the trailhead, but Posets & Perdido have a 2 hour and 600m ascent & 4 hour 900m ascent walk in respectively
  • Don’t try and rush things to beat the weather especially on long hikes, the bad weather arrived 2 hours early for us anyway and not only cost us summitting Posets, lost us the chance to attempt Monte Perdido at all.

We only had two days to recover for Monte Perdido and although our optimism said we would be OK and it did not matter if we over did it a bit on the last walk of the trip. Turns out we had already overdone it – Big time. Saturday was a right off as expected what I jokingly call a recovery day, Sunday turned out to be the same still totally exhausted but this time we had gone down with diarrhoea and not able to eat. For me this has continued till Wednesday and only started to improve after getting medication from the farmacia in Torla on Tuesday night.
Monte Perdido from Camping Rio Arla.
Due to illness - a summit for another year
Final update:- The medication was Diafrin, the Spanish equivalent of Imodium, which actually enabled me to drive to ferry port at Bilbao and get home.
At visit to my own GP in UK, was told to stop Imodium as locks infection inside with potential to cause life threatening conditions. Sample revealed I had contracted C-diff (Clostridium difficile) a serious Gastrointestinal Infection‎, probably from a meal served by someone with dirty hands in a restaurant last Saturday before arriving at Camping Rio Arla. A course of Metronidazole, a target antibiotic, is now, 12 days after contracting bug, finally relieving symptoms and putting me back on the road to recovery.
Mick still being in Spain was able to buy his own from the local 'farmacia' and is also making a full recovery.

Walk Statistics

Walk Date - 26 July 2019
Walkers - Steve Smith, Mick Graylen
Accommodation - Camping Ixeia, Benasque 
Start Point - Bus stop at Al Parking de la Espigantosa (42.61374°N, 0.47825°E)
Start Time - 06:34
Finish Point - Bus stop at Erista (42.58915°N, 0.49353°E)
Finish Time- 19:22
Total Duration - 12hrs 48mins 
Overall Average pace - 0.89mph
Total Distance Walked - 11.36 miles
Total Height Ascended -1741.00metres

Final walk from previous trip

2019
February

Other walks on this trip

2019
May
15th Peñarroya
June
17th Serra de São Mamede
18th Villuercas
19th Riscos Altos
24th Corocho de Rocigalgo
27th Riscos del Amor
July
11th Morades - Sierra De La Hiruela High Point
13th Pico de Almanzor
15th Pico Jálama
16th Canchal de la Ceja & Torreón del Calvitero
18th La Hastiala
23rd Pico de Aneto
26th Posets (attempt)

Route

Map of route to follow

More Photographs

Full set of captioned photos providing journal and description of key parts of ascent, descent and summit photographs.
Diente de Llardana from Collado del Diente. Thought might pick this off on way back from Posets. Not from this direction.
Click on photograph to view slide-show