Ascent of Pic de Coma Pedrosa on 1993-08-29
|Date:||Sunday, August 29, 1993|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Motorized Transport to Trailhead:||Car|
|Peak:||Pic de Coma Pedrosa|
| Elevation:||2943 m / 9656 ft|
Ascent Trip ReportToday I did the last hike in Europe on my trip, to Pic Alt de la Coma Pedrosa, at 2946 meters (9665 feet) the highest mountain in tiny Andorra. I left Andorra-la-Vella at 6 AM and drove up a valley in the dark to Arinsal, where I parked and was off uphill on a trail in the freezing cold and very windy morning by 7:15 AM. I hiked uphill to the Pla d'Estany and it's little hut, and then up a grassy bowl, following a faint trail, until I came to snowy ground. It was a somewhat clear day, and I was not in glaciated mountains, so my guess was that the couple inches of snow I had to slog through had fallen during the record-breaking rains of a couple days ago.
As I got higher it was very cloudy, windy, and cold--I was really freezing--but the weather looked like it was improving. I arrived at another hut, where I took long rest before setting off around snow-covered talus bordering a high alpine lake. At some point I realized that I was not where I wanted to be--I was approaching the col north of a peak called Puig de Roca Entrevessada instead of ascending Coma Pedrosa's east flank. Given the utter lack of trail signs, my bad map, and the weather, this was not surprising.
So when I reached the col, marking the Spain-Andorra border, I decided to strike off to the south and climb Entrevessada and then traverse south to Coma Pedrosa, if possible. It was still cold, and the peak to the north of the col was in clouds, but to the south it was clearer. Oddly, as I climbed higher on the ridge, the snow grew less and less, too. The ridge, however, was very, very difficult. I had to dangerously climb rocky pinnacles that more than once proved to be dead ends, forcing downclimbing and a search for a way around. I saw a guy once, but never met him--he at one point waved me back to the best route.
After more treacherous climbing I emerged on top of Entrevessada, at 9606 feet Andorra's second highest peak--interestingly, my map had it down as the highest, but many other sources had convinced me that Coma Pedrosa is higher and that my map had a typo. I turned out that I climbed it anyway, by accident. At the top I noticed that the weather was now very nice--it was sunny, warm, and clear, with all the clouds keeping themselves to the French side of the Pyrenees.
From Entrevessada I could see Coma Pedrosa, and the ridge connecting the two peaks was a jagged, nasty-looking series of pinnacles. So I followed it as much as I could, dropped down into a high cirque, then regained the ridge west of Coma Pedrosa using a scree couloir. At the summit of Andorra there was a large concrete cairn, awesome views, and a Barcelonan named Jorge--we were talking for a while in Spanish before he discovered I was American, when he started addressing me in his excellent English. He was an entomologist, specializing in the study of moths ("mariposas del noche"), and he had been to New York often.
A Spanish couple soon joined us on the summit--the woman was about my age and had spent several years in San Francisco. After we took each other's pictures and ate our lunches, all four of us took off down the trail together--we descended the easy way which I had failed to find this morning, a very pretty hike down a spectacular but easy ridge and then through lots of beautiful grassy alpine meadows. It was now a clear, hot day, and any snow on this route was now long gone--very strange after today's wintry morning. All four of us talked to each other almost the whole way down, I mostly with Jorge, since the couple hiked extremely fast and I was in no mood to blow out my knees for no reason. They would wait up for us, though, and I chatted with the Spanish woman a bit, too. I kept trying out my adequate Spanish, but it was no match for the English of my hiking partners.
Back at the Arinsal parking lot Jorge and I exchanged addresses and I was soon off, happy at bagging the last European highpoint of my trip.
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