Still in the end of our first ice-climbing day, Sunday, I was saying to Paulo:
-If tomorrow we’ll climb as much as today, and Tuesday we can climb a line before we go back, I’ll call the next post “Ice Party”
Saturday, somewhere around 14:00, we entered the valley of Pineta, with a starvation for ice difficult to satisfy. This season, our anxious hands still haven’t touched the cable of the ice-axes.
Glorious days on the valley of Pineta
While going up the valley looking for the camping where we were supposed to stay, we started to see on the slopes, beautiful canyons, absolutely frozen.
The first big ice route we saw was at our left, the aesthetical “Cascada de la Sarra”. We tried to measure the size of that line…WOW! It was much more than a 100m of pure ice.
Two minutes further, also on the left side, still our eyes were on “La Sarra”, we found the camping.
We unloaded the car, enjoyed the “tent” where we would spend a couple of hours for the next days (life’s hard!!!), and we headed our way up the valley to check what all there was to do.
Our “tent” with a nice view to the...
For our delight, in several canyons the time for the water drops had stopped. Its way to the sea was now interrupted by the intense cold of the last few days.
We could recognize many ice cascades while we went up the valley. Strangely, there was not much snow for this time of the year; the slopes were far from the traditional white covering…we didn’t care! There was plenty of ice, quality ice to satisfy our hunger.
We went back to the camping to plan the next day. We were hesitating between “Cascada de la Sarra” or “Nostalgia de lo Irlandês” (“The nostalgy of the irish”). They both looked like they would take a few hours to be climbed. We decided for the “Nostalgia de lo Irlandês”, supposedly with 160m, looking easier.
We decided for an early start, waking up a t 5:30, so we could enjoy a long climbing day. Also, we wanted to be the first on that ice route. Around 7:15 we left the car near the refuge of Pineta, and after a long approach of…15 minutes, we got to the start of the route.
The conditions of the ice?
SUBERB! Our ice-axes came back to life and we left the ground!
Paulo enjoying the first ice of the season. There is nothing better to start, than a route with 250m! "Nostalgia del Irlandês" (“The Nostalgy of the Irish”)
Daniela’s turn on the next pitch
“Up is the way!"
The climb went on for much more that the expected 160m, to finish in a nice column, the most technical pitch of the route. Even being small, the sustained 90º tired our arms, already not used to ice-climb. On that route, we climbed around 250m of ice.
Daniela enjoying in one of the biggest pitches of "Nostalgia del Irlandês".
Paulo on the vertical pitch
Being so close to the camping was a luxury! We went to have lunch to our warm “tent” before heading for our afternoon ice route, this time, a smaller one.
We picked a line at the head of the valley with a beautiful 40m pitch, enough to enjoy a relaxing end of the day.
Our afternoon route, "Amenaza subirana" looked like having only one pitch, but…
But at the end of this pitch we had a nice surprise. On top, away from the eyes looking from below there was an extra pitch! Our expected 40m of ice turned out to be an 80m awesome route, ending in a huge cave. In this cave starts the hardest line of the valley “Brutal Feng” (not formed), starting with artificial climbing on a huge overhang.
On the second pitch of "Amenaza subirana"
"Brutal Fang", in bad conditions
Results of the first day?
Tired body, happy mind.
The route "Nostalgia del Irlandês"
Over a warm dinner we decided to climb “Cascada de la Sarra” on the next day. We also decided to wake up half an hour earlier, to be sure we would be the first ones to climb the route (yes, there were many climbers on the area!).
Around 7:15, after another looooong approach of 15 minutes, we were at the start of the route. A couple of minutes later, 2 other climbers arrived…nice we woke up earlier!
The first pitch is a big and large piece of ice that places a stupid smile on your face. 50m of sustained 80/85º ice. It could not start better!
"La Sarra". The jewel of the valley. 50 metros of sustained ice for a start. Awesome!
Then another pitch with 35m, some smaller ones, and at the end, 2 more pitches leading to a final aesthetical last one, pretty embedded on the canyon, starting on a pool. The pool was a bit dangerous, as it was disguised with some leaves. So one of the Spanish following us didn’t recognized, and he tested the water…until his waist!
Second pitch, also very enjoyable.
Ice in very good conditions
Paulo on the way to the top.
Another wonderful route! After a few rappels, our ropes were...not in the best shape for climbing! Anyway we didn’t care, as we were pretty satisfied with those 200m of “La sarra” we just did.
Our ropes at the end of the rappels. It looks like we are not warm enough to melt the ice!
"La Sarra". 200m, 4+.
The rest of the day we used it to recognize another area, to check what we could climb on our returning to Portugal day, Thursday, Carnival. We didn’t want to start our 10h trip back, before using our ice-axes again!
We decided to take a look on the routes near the border between Spain and France, on the Tunnel of Bielsa. We wanted something with a short approach…yes, even shorter!
And on the south/spanish side of the tunnel, there it was, “El sueño del agua” (“The dream of the water”)
Lots of ice meters starting 5 minutes away from the car parking. We decided that the next day we would only do one or two pitches, and then we would head home.
So the next day at 7:20 we were climbing again. There’s nothing better to start a long 10 hour journey home than…220m of ice instead of the planned “one or two” pitches! Yes, we couldn’t manage our hunger and we did the whole route!
The Carnival route: "El sueño de agua". 220 m before heading home
"El sueño de agua", South/spanish side of the tunnel of Bielsa. Not even a drop of snow!
At mid-day the engine of our car started to work. It was mid-day when we started to share our thoughts about this express trip to the Pyrenees, the quantity, the quality, the painful hands, the luxury of the Bungalow, the wish to come back.
RAB gear used:
Daniela: Women’s Stretch Neo Jacket and Pants, Women’s MeCo 120 Long Sleeve Tee Base layer, Women’s Micro Pull-on, Women’s PS Pants; Latok Glove, Shadow Beanie.
Paulo: Stretch Neo Jacket and Pants, Long Sleeve Aeon Tee, Micro Pull-on, Latok Glove.