Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 9 - Torla to Refugio de Pineta

26km, 2100 metres of ascent
After staying up late last night to watch the World Cup Final, I didn't wake up until about 8.30am, so this was probably my latest start of the entire trip. During the night it had been seriously wet and windy, but thankfully the weather settled down.

Dave and Alan set off a good 20 minutes before I was ready, but I caught them up before we reached the bridge across the Rio Arazas leading into the mighty Ordesa Canyon. The hike up to the Goriz Hut is very easy on a well-graded path, and gives fantastic views back down the canyon as you gain height.

Once I reached the hut, I just carried straight on up to the rather wild and desolate Collato Arrablo. From here the descent becomes increasingly sensational as you drop down to Fuen Blanca, where you'll find the most spectacular collection of waterfalls. This was pretty much the most scenic place I've ever seen.

After crossing the bridge at Fuen Blanca there is around 650m of ascent to gain the Collata Añisclo which looks like a mere stones throw from the Pineta campground 1200 metres below. But looks can be deceiving, and the descent turned out to be of epic steepness and difficulty with awkward scrambling down steep rocks and grovelling through endless trees to eventually pop out at the valley floor.

I spotted a sign marked "Refugio de Pineta, 5 minutes" and some yellow marks heading off to wooded swampland. I removed my shoes and started wading barefoot along the vague path in fading light. Bit by bit the flooding got worse and wood got thicker until I arrived at the main river of fast flowing glacial snow melt. With no footbridge, I had no idea how I could safely cross. I hunted up and down for a crossing until I spotted a black plastic waterpipe spanning the river and then used this as a handrail to avoid being swept away as I waded across in almost waist deep fast flowing icy cold water. It was quite an adrenaline rush to be across, and 5 minutes later I did stumble across the superb Refugio de Pineta at around 10pm in complete darkness. And to my complete amazement, at 10:03pm I had a plate of chicken and chips plus glass of cold beer in front of me. A fine end to the day!

Photos from Day 9

View GR11 - Day 9 in a larger map


Barrie Fairhurst said...

Torla to Pineta in a day - Respect! I don't think anyone who hasn't dont that 1.2k and 45 degrees down to Pineta understands just how tough it is...

Chris said...

Yup - that was a tough day. And possibly my latest start. I got a lot more than I bargained for with that 1200 metre descent to Pineta!