Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Out and In the Aiguestortes

Next day was a bit sunnier and we headed up towards the Collada dels Gavatxos, 2667m.

We were surprised how cold it was even in the sun and the Montane zip offs stayed zipped on.  Note that we all wore trail shoes.  Dawne and I in Sportiva Raptors  ( I think I originally heard about these from Martin Rye's blog) and Ailsa and James in Salomons.  None of us suffered any blisters.  I remember being told by a mountain leader assessor that trail shoes were no good in rocks and boots are needed for ankle support.  Can't ever of tried them I reckon as this is one of the rockiest places I've been.

Back into the Aiguestortes.

Yet more lakes in the valley beyond,  the Estanys dela Gavatxos.  I don't think I can actually say that word.

James looks for the next '3 stone' cairn.  We found that the path was a lot harder to find on this section.

We found an idyllic place to stop for a rest and have something to eat.  The tent was damp from dew so I spread it out to dry. That's one of the things I liked about the Mariposa sack- it was possible just to stuff the wet tent into the mesh on the back.

Ailsa and Dawne with the Golite Pinnacle sacks.  I  was quite fond of mine but always found the hip belt a bit ineffective.

Which way now bats?

Estany Perdut.

We took Sawyer Mini  filters and Aquamira drops and had no problem finding water.

Fatigue was setting in as we headed for the 4 wheel drive taxis at the Planell der Sant Esperit via a long walk past the Estany Llong.

We got the last room in a hotel in Boi and polished off two plates of patatas bravas,  before getting cleaned up for a proper meal later on.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Backpacking in and out of the Aiguestortes

Wasn't keen on getting up as there was a frost on the tents but glad I did as I caught the sunrise shining on the Pic de la Mainera 2906m.

It looked like it was going to be a cloudy day so we took the opportunity to get packed up whilst the sun shone.

We then climbed to a small peak at  2722m to look down into the Estanys dels Vidals d' Amunt.
It was an easy descent from there to the Pas del'Os and the GR11 to the Refugi Colomina.

Despite our rucksacks bulging with dehydrated food we went in for tortilla and jamon.

We then headed back into the hills up the Estany Tort to camp below the Collada dels Gavatxos.
The last time I was here the place was crawling with cows and it was difficult to find a campsite that was flat, rock free and wasn't covered in cow muck.

We finally got camped up between the Estany Eixerola and the Estany de Castiesco.
The cows had not wandered this far yet but their bells could be heard jangling in the distance.

I'm airing the Z Packs double quilt in the photo.  This has damp proof down and weighs less than 900g.  This is approximately the weight of one sleeping bag.  The tent on the left is my old Solar 2.2, which as you can imagine weigh 2.2Kg.  The tent Dawne and I used was the Tarptent single skin Stratospire which has acres of room and only weighs around 1200g.  Ok a bit obsessive over weight, but it is my hobby and I'm not keen of lugging huge weights up hills any more.  I aimed for a base weight of 6 Kg and probably came out at about 6.5Kg.

Dawne modelling the quilt and the  superb ultra light Berghaus Vapourlight jacket.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Backpacking in and out of the Aiguestortes

We caught the ferry from Plymouth to Santander on the day the remnants of hurricane Bertha passed through.  So we were quite relieved to get in the car and drive  via Vielha to Espot in the Aiguestortes National Park.  The day we arrived a thunder storm was due so we booked into a hotel for the night to sit it out.  Catalan soup is to be recommended as it arrives in an urn,  the only downside is the bits of cheek and funny looking bones in the bottom.

The next day we got the 4 wheel drive taxi to the Estany de Sant Maurici in  the National park and headed up the Monestero valley for the Coll  de Peguera.

No crumbly schisty rocks here, it's all granite.

We stopped at the head of the Estany de Monestero for refreshment.  Ailsa and James were looking forwards to trying their Wilko alcohol stove in their superb home made pan support / wind shield.

We then headed on up towards the coll to the left of the pointy peak.

James as usual was at the front, and started up the boulder field into the top corrie.

Dawne and Ailsa on the climb to the Coll de Peguera 2715m.

We descended the other side to Estanys de Saburo d' Amunt and pitched the tents at about 2600m.

Ailsa and James cooking tea.

The rules are no camping in the National Park so our strategy was to walk through the park and climb a col at the end of the day to camp just outside.  I guess a stealth camp late at night in such a vast landscape would go unnoticed.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Ben Nevis

Good Friday is not the best day to travel  The roads were gridlocked and there were huge tailbacks just to get through Callander. After a full day on the road we finally got to the campsite in Glencoe and parked the van.

It may not be wild camping but the view from the site is awesome. We walk into the village and catch the local shop just shutting and get the last loaf of bread.  Sandwiches sorted for the walk.

Easter Saturday and we get parked up in the Visitor Centre car park and cross the beck on the way to Ben Nevis.  At this stage I'm a bit confused.  Some people, like us, are carrying ice axes and wearing boots.  Some people are wearing trainers with a coat tied around their waist.  Must be getting old and too cautious.

The path is easy going and zig zags up the fell.

The views open up.

Then it's not just the odd drift of snow but deep stuff.  Some, but not all, of the trainers turn around here.  We stop for refreshment.

We reach the summit and mingle with the crowds before having another cup of tea and a wander around the plateau taking photos.

The summit from across Observatory Gully.  I wonder how many people realise how close they are to a huge drop.

We head down, this is a big hill as you climb it from almost sea level and there's a danger Morrisons might be shut by the time we get there.

We met an old friend and his wife and daughter ( Ben and Hannah and Sophie) on the way down and did manage to catch Morrisons,  but we were pretty tired.

We drove home the next day as we needed to get some things sorted before work.  But we did of course stop at the Green Welly for our dinners.