Pyrenees. The spectacular circular crossing of Pass'Aran


We are facing the Pass'Aran circular crossing, definitely, one of the best routes what can you do today in the Pyrenees. Today we are not talking about one more route, we are talking about the five stages that make up one of the most spectacular crossings of this imposing mountain range. It can be defined as the route of drastic changes in landscape, high and low mountains, fairytale forests, Scottish landscapes and even prints such as Van Gogh's paintings. The images speak for themselves. Do not you want to leave the office and get your boots ?.

Pass'Aran circular crossing

The traverseíto circulate of Pass'Aran

There are more or less simple crossings or roads. Some require a little more effort, effort that by far you can see rewarded. The Pass'Aran circular crossing covers more than 70km in 5 days, but its handicap or complexity does not lie in its distance, if not in the unevenness of each stage. Crossing it's not too technicalbut walk with daily slopes of more than 1,400m For 5 days It is only available to those who love the mountain and above all, he is able to adapt to it.

If you go frequently to the mountain and have the ability to walk for five days This is your route, no doubt. I find no reason not to encourage anyone to do the Pass'Aran.

During these five days they ascend to peaks close to 3,000m and they descend to beech forests just over 900m high. Very different landscapes, but equally fascinating. The high mountain with scarce vegetation and the low with forests taken from a Tolkien novel. Each day has its reward and in the end, spend the night in isolated shelters in the world both in Spain and in France.

Stage 5 Pass'Aran

It begins in one of the most beautiful valleys in Spain, in the Valle de Aran, specifically in the province of Lleida, but much of the route takes place in France, where beech forests, moss and violet fields they are the protagonists. Both sides of the border offerthe most majestic lakes in the entire Pyrenees, which accompany them snowy peaks even in summer and wildlife where you could get to see bears. It is and seems the perfect route, and it is much easier to make than it seems.

What do you need to go to Pass'Aran?

Pass'Aran pass

There are two ways to perform Pass'Aran circular crossing. The simplest and in the end the most economical is booking through the Montgarri Refuge with the Pass'Aran pass. The other, calling shelter to shelter and see if there are free beds.

Pass'Aran pass

If you hire the ski pass, in the purest style of the Camino de Santiago, your Pass'Aran “passport” will be stamped to ensure you made the entire journey.

Prices. How much and what does it include?

We talk about 5 nights in 5 shelters, 4 of them in our neighboring France. In the absence of the possibility of buying something during the entire route and with the premise of carrying little weight, the logical thing is to hire half-board, which includes accommodation in bunk beds, dinner and breakfast.

The prices for 2014 are as follows:

Half pensionFull board
Montgarri Shelter46€56€
Estagnous Shelter38,80€48,80€
Valier House46€55€
Elye Country36€45€
Araing Shelter41,80€50,80€
FORFAIT Pass'Aran *41€-

* Includes a thermal t-shirt of the brandTernua, a Pass'Aran Buff, a guide and a map of the Alpine publishing house and a bag

Pass'Aran circular crossing

The five stages of Pass'Aran

Stage 1. Montgarri Shelter - Estagnous Shelter

It starts from the Montgarri Refuge, next to the Valle de Arán. Expect a route of about 6h, which rises little by little to exceed 2,500m in height and more than 1,100m of unevenness. It is only the beginning and already reveals its beauty, like the Estanh Long, without a word we remain. For the most intrepid is the Ascent to Tuc de Barlonguera and the long crest that separates France from Spain. In the end, the highest altitude shelter in Pass'Aran, theEstagnous Shelter, in full skirt of Mont Valier, colossus of the area with 2,838m.

Stage 1 Pass'Aran - Estanh Long

For more information on the stage, click here.

Stage 2. Estagnous Shelter - Maison du Valier

An atypical stage, almost a gift. At the beginning of the route you just ascend 250m to reach a small hill, where a descent of more than 1,500m. This route shows the landscape changes of Pass'Aran. You start in the high mountains with imperial lakes and end up in beech forests where you could find the cabin of Hansel and Gretel. If you are lucky enough to see the fog you will see an almost fairytale atmosphere and then end up in the most luxurious refuge of the crossing, that ofMaison du Valier, yes, before you will have crossed with multiple waterfalls and a lively river of crystalline waters.

Stage 2 Pass'Aran
Stage 2 Pass'Aran

For more information on the stage, click here.

Stage 3. Maison du Valier - Gite Eyle

After sleeping in a real bed, literally, begins one of the most "complex" route of the Pass'Aran circular crossing. Depending on your physique you can do it between 7 and 9h to overcome a unevenness of more than 1,600m. In this stage two levels are raised to lower them again, nothing good psychologically but if done little by little it does not seem so hard. You start climbing through a forest that barely lets the sun go to reach a peak hit by the wind. The descent is by a sea violet flowers and the next ascent by a strange forest of ferns to make way for the mines surrounding the shelter ofGite Eyle. Long stage, but again diverse.

Stage 3 Pass'Aran

For more information on the stage, click here.

Stage 4. Gite Eyle - Araing Shelter

The strangest and also the most original. Stage with history, of mines and miners who lost their lives. Walk through the vestiges of what was a mining basin thrives It makes it a really different route. Throughout the trail there are abandoned buildings, turrets or cars. It is not easy to see a high mountain landscape combined with the aggression produced by a mine. More than 50 years have passed and the landscape has regained its grandeur. Summits close to 3,000m, a large lake and the shelter that escorts it, theAraing Shelter. In the end it is the shortest route, but you have to overcome its 1,200m of unevenness.

Stage 4 Pass'Aran
Stage 4 Pass'Aran

For more information on the stage, click here.

Stage 5. Araing Shelter - Montgarri Shelter

It is said that the best is reserved for the end. If you see its length scares, if you see the awkward time for being the end of the journey. It has the largest snowfield on the route that you have to get around carefully if you don't carry crampons. There is a point on this route that words are short of what you can get to see. An impressive lake with the views at the bottom of the Aneto under a green mantle that you could say you are in Scotland. Up and down, no matter, is the character of this last route. If the first lake amazed you, the second will be no less. Reach Montgarri after all it will not have been so hard.

Stage 5 Pass'Aran - Lac de Montoliu

How is the route indicated?

Pass'Aran is very well signposted. It is mainly marked with milestones, red beacons and white and some in yellow, especially in the second and fifth stage. It should be noted that much of the section uses the famous GR 10, the path that joins the Atlantic with the Mediterranean.

The path usually in good condition, interspersing areas of dirt, mud and stones. There are several important fields, especially in the fifth stage, but nothing that cannot be overcome. In winter the thing changes, and much.

What to take to the route?

Yes we talk aboutbasic equipment For months like July, August or September we recommend the following. We have linked some of them with best prices What you can find if you still lack this equipment:

  • 35l-45l backpack
  • Several shirts, a pair of socks per day, underwear, shorts and a long one
  • Thin fleece lining and oilskin. An additional primaloft for the nights would not hurt if the forecast is of low temperatures
  • High boots, although it is possible to do it with trial shoes prepared for water but we do not recommend them
  • I take out silk, a normal jacket is not necessary, although if possible, you can go cold in the shelters
  • Crossing poles
  • Flip-flops for the shelter, although there are available
  • Sunglasses
  • Lantern
  • Sun cream and a small tablet, where ibuprofen can not be missing
  • Bag with the minimum
  • GPS with batteries for several days

What is the best time to go?

Summer of course. From June to October, but check the weather before as they have been with a June of a lot of snow.

Photos of the route

Click here to see all the photographs of the route or if you prefer, you can also see them on Flickr.

To make the circular crossing of Pass'Aran we were lucky to be equipped by one of the sponsors of the route, the Basque brand Ternua, national leader in the outdoor market. In the crossing we could try their thermal shirts, its range of reinforced shorts and with water repellency and the raincoat with the brand's own membrane,Shelltec. It is not because they equipped us, but all the materials behaved perfectly both in normal conditions and with a lot of rain.

Ternua in Pass'Aran