Ascent of Pico de Aneto on 2009-08-10

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Bob Packard
Date:Monday, August 10, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Pico de Aneto
    Elevation:11168 ft / 3404 m

Ascent Trip Report

Nowadays it is necessary to catch a shuttle bus, at Benasque or (in our case) at the car park at Vado, 2km short of Hospital de Benasque (hotel). After our Sunday morning climb of Mont St Jeroni (Montserrat), we arrived about 4pm, got the bus about 5pm, walked up to La Renclusa refugia (0h40). They serve big meals here! The place wasn´t full and we had a peaceful night.

Monday we woke at 5, were given breakfast, hung around until groups started heading out (about 06:10, first light). The general rule seemed to be to do without ropes, so we left Bob´s half-rope and our climbing harnesses in the refuge - a good decision.

We had planned to take the trail direct to Portillon Superior (gap in ridge), but couldn´t see the fork, so followed everyone else, initially heading for Portillon Inferior but then following the ridge before descending (rough blocky scramble) to Port Sup. Then a 30m descent (15 initial scramble) to L followed by a (faintish) cairned path across seemingly endless tough boulder fields to finally reach the Aneto glacier. Some groups kept R and took a longer more level glacier traverse. We followed a group which took a more direct, approx beeline route, gaining the glacier (initially "dry" i.e. no snow) which is easy angled and almost entirely crevasse free (just a couple of small crevasses, easily dealt with).

After the initial glacier section, the glacier steepens a little and has a covering of snow, then a rocky rib is crossed and the final steep(ish) section is climbed. We were surprised to see a couple of parties descending (very cautiously!) without crampons. To take crampons and use the shorter route would be our recommendatiion.

Above the glacier a stony path leads to the final obstacle: a nice rocky arete, maybe 10m long then a steep climb. Holds are excellent although the passage is certainly exposed. Beyond is the summit: a cross, a standard spanish cylindrcal trig pillar and what appears to be a large "fake" trig with a couple of small statuettes on tiop. This seemed rather tacky and I didn´t note who these represented. The view was pretty good although cloud / haze prevented distant views.

The return journey (easy glacier, endless boulders) was a repeat of the outward route as far as Portillon Superior. Then the direct path was followed: mostly well cairned but care needed on occasion as the route is obscure and it´s essential to stay on the path. It works round R, with cliffs below, then descends L with a short steepish downclimb at one point. The junction (which we missed on the way up) with the Portillon Inferior path is at N42:39.623, E0:38.955, 2590m.

After a brief rest at La Renclusa refuge we descended to La Besurta, enjoyed a snack while waiting for the bus, and were back at the car at Vado at 6:30pm. We took a room in Hotel Avenida, Benasque, which was adequate. The village was teeming with tourists and we might have been better off in one of the out-of-town hotels such as Hospital de Benasque, althoiugh these would presumably be more expensive.

Next day we had a long drive to Extremadura in preparation for our Almanzor climb.

Pico de Aneto photos
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5434 ft / 1656 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5434 ft / 1656 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10.6 mi / 17 km
    Grade/Class:YDS3 PD
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Hut Camp
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5204 ft / 1586 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 4974 ft / 1517 m; Extra: 230 ft / 70m
    Loss on way in:230 ft / 70 m
    Distance:5.6 mi / 9 km
    Route:La Renclusa, Portilla Superior
    Start Trailhead:La Basurta  6194 ft / 1887 m
    Time:8 Hours 10 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5204 ft / 1586 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 4974 ft / 1517 m; Extra: 230 ft / 70m
    Gain on way out:230 ft / 70 m
    Distance:5 mi / 8 km
    Route:La Renclusa, Portilla Superior
    End Trailhead:La Basurta  6194 ft / 1887 m
    Time:3 Hours 30 Minutes

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