Above and Below the World

Winter climb to the Maladeta peak (3,308m)

DAY 1: Approach to the Renclusa hut, from the Llanos del Hospital car park

2h 6,3km +450m.

We left the car in the first parking area in Llanos del Hospital, in the Benasque municipality. We recommend arriving early as the car parks are not very big and fill up quickly.

We take the backpacks with everything we need for the next few days (we’ll take breakfast and dinner that are served at the hut) and we go up to the refuge, first following the road to the Llanos del Hospital Hotel and then by the cross-country ski slopes. Easy walk to the Besurta summer car park, that we do just with boots despite it is snow.

Llanos del Hospital sky station slopes.

From La Besurta we go up to the Renclusa hute with snowshoe. In total about 2 hours of easy walking approach. Upon arrival we enjoyed a beautiful sunset.

Renclusa hut

Sunset from the Renclusa hut

Upon reaching the refuge we find some skiers going down who tell us that it is not necessary to carry snowshoes when going up to the Maladeta peak, that only with crampons we will go well, since the snow is hard enough to be able to go with crampons due to the trace made by the people who have past before.

DAY 2: Classic ascent to Maladeta Peak (3.312m)

6h (4h30min in movement) 7 km +1.170m/-1.170m

After breakfast, at 8:30 a.m., we started our way. And as they advised us the day before, we only go with the crampons (we leave the snowshoes at the hut).

We start the day!

Views near the refuge, at the beginning of the day

We are going up without complication, but yes, there is a good constant climb and quite steep ahead!

First steep slope from the hut

We continue climbing, and in a short time we reach the crossroads to go up to Aneto, ‘the false Portillón’, we ignore it and continue our way towards Maladeta.

Well marked path, near the detour to go up to Aneto

We keep going up, and we can already see the small channel at the end of the climb, on the mountain wall, which we will have to face, before reaching the Rimaya pass to reach the summit.

Towards the Maladeta canal

Towards the Maladeta canal

So then, we get to the canal. We take the ice axe to help us climb, although the climb is not complicated at all, at least for us we did not find it. The snow was hard and there were ‘steps’ already made by preceding mountaineers that helped us a lot in our progress. Always taking care to look carefully, we go up without problem.

We are lucky and we do not find anyone going up (or going down) during the canal pass so we will calmly do it at our own pace.

With ice axe in hand going up the canal

After passing the canal on the Rimaya hill, we already have the top within reach!

And now we only have about 10 minutes to reach the top of the Maladeta. Once up, we enjoy the views of the Aneto and all the Pyrenees, it is fabulous! We also have a great sunny day, without wind and oddly without no one arround. We rest, eat a little and go down following the same path.

Impressive views of the Aneto glacier, from the top of Maladeta

Very happy, we arrived at the hut at noon, where we just spent the day resting and preparing the route for tomorrow, ascent to the Mulleres peak, a peak of 3,010m, a beautiful mountain trekking but much longer than today.

Climbing the Maladeta by the traditional route is a highly recommended and affordable ascent for everyone used to high mountains and walking with crampons on steep slope.

For more information and recommendations of the day:

  • Recommended equipment: Winter clothing, ARVA, shovel and probe, crampons and ice axe, GPS
  • La Renclusa Hut:
    • Half board price for federated: 35 euros/day
    • Link for reservations
    • Good facilities, rooms with individual bunk beds, hot showers without paying extra, the guards are always very attentive and knowledgeable about the area, excellent food and a fantastic mountain atmosphere.

Les Fonts de Terrassa – Montserrat

Les Fonts de Terrassa - Montserrat.

9:30h (8h30' en movimiento) 36km +1.600m/-1.100m

Views to la Mola

We get up at 5 in the morning and at 5.45 am we are already walking, a long and very hot day awaits us so we decided to start as early as possible.

We leave from the FCG station of Les Fonts and soon we connect with the dirt road of the Rubi forest, here we stop to take photos of the spectacular sunrise, leaving behind Montseny. We have very nice views of La Mola and Montseny and Terrassa below.

Sunrise

We continue along an easy track and shortly after we will have an asphalt section to cross the C-16 overhead. Once we have crossed, we continue along the track towards Ullastrell where we will pass some residential areas. Then we cross the road from Terrassa to Martorell, here you have to watch out for the passing of cars.

From here we return to the dirt road, it is GR but it is a bit closed and with a lot of hedges, we had short pants but long would have been good! We continue, and now the road becomes a dirt track that is wider and better to walk, we pass a horse riding school and then we stop for breakfast (8.30am).

GR6 track

Indications (we will also follow yellow marks)

Some section where the vegetation has “eaten” the track

We always continue along easy tracks through the forest, later we will pass the works of the B-40 still under construction, what a destruction of the forest to this never finished road! Once past the road and after passing a farmhouse, we come to St. Jaume river, and here the GR is so full of bushes that make it impassable, so we decided to go along the river that runs parallel to the GR.

This stretch of river is well 5 or 6 km but it is very fun, we go through pebbles and creek vegetation, there is always water but it does not reach more than ankle and we have no problem tp gp through, in fact, people pass by and there are stones placed to make the step easier. Just reaching the end, there is a concrete dam that we will have to overcome, but 2 people helpping each other you can “jump”.

Walking along the St. Jaume stream

After passing the small dam of the stream

Once past the stream, we go up a dirt track until we reach a road, BV-1211 (where there are some curious rock formations), watch out for cars! And after about 300m we take a dirt track to the left uphill but always easy. We will go up to see the Sant Pere de Sacalm hermitage (10.30 am) where we can see Montserrat closer and closer! We stopped for a moment to eat some nuts and we continued the way.

Unique geological formations

Sant Pere de Sacama Hermitage

From here the terrain is more mountainous, we leave the tracks to take trails, and we are surprised by the beauty of this place! We take advantage and go up to Sant Salvador de les Espases (12:30 pm), from where the views of Montserrat are spectacular!

Views of Montserrat and Sant Salvador de les Espases

We continue the way along these trails of ascents and descents until we reach an easy track that borders the Pla de las Bruixes, we continue straight parallel to the train tracks to the Llobregat river until we reach the Montserrat cable car station. Here we make another short stop (2:00 p.m.), after which we cross the tracks by passing the same station and only the ascent to Montserrat remains.

It is an intense climb, that at noon in the heat of summer, we are doing little by little and by 15:15 we are already up, in the Monastery. What happiness! We stop to calmly eat our sandwiches and once recovered we take public transport to return (rack railway + Cercanías + TFG) in less than 2 hours we are already in Terrassa, and very satisfied!

Recommendation: Although we have seen a fountain somewhere, we must bring a lot of water since at this time of year it is very hot and we will hardly find safe water points until we reach the Monastery itself.

Montserrat Monastery

Arrival at the Montserrat Monastery

Winter climb to Mulleres peak (3.010m)

DAY 3: Classic ascent to Mulleres peak (3.010m)

11h ( 10h in movement) 17 km +1.340m/-1.340m

Long winter route that will take us to discover some really impressive and very lonely places in this part of the Pyrenees, where from the Pico de Mulleres we will enjoy splendid views of the entire Pyrenees, with the Aneto in the foreground.

After having slept and rested in the Renclusa refuge, where the day before we climbed the Maladeta peak, we are heading today to climb the Mulleres peak.

After breakfast, we leave at 8:00 in the morning, just as the day begins to dawn. We go down the path that goes to the Besurta car park but before arriving we take the GR 11.5 (there is no loss, a sign indicates the direction) towards the Forau de Aiguallut, there we have a viewpoint to see the ‘hole’ where all the water that comes from the Aneto massif becomes underground and a little further on we find the Aiguallut waterfalls.

Aiguallut waterfalls

Once past the waterfall we will find the beautiful Aiguallut plateau.

Aiguallut plateau

Just past the plain, we have to take the path to enter the access gorge to the Escaleta valley, where from here the route becomes very beautiful and lonely.

Access to the gorges of the Escaleta valley

But beware!! If we do not carry crampons and ice axe, it will surely not be possible for us to cross the gorges in the winter months. It is not difficult, but there is a vertical icy wall about 4 meters that you have to go through with crampons and ice axe. So here we will change our snowshoe for crampons and ice ax and we will cross the gorge without problem.

Vertical wall section in the gorge to Escaleta valley

Once past the gorge, we put on our snowshoe again (since the snow is very soft and if not, we sink). Here the landscape is really fabulous, plains with lakes with the white mountains in the background and a great solitude; we are fascinated by so much beauty.

Escaleta valley

Escaleta valley

We pass the lakes and from here the path begins to get steeper and steeper. The climb is quite long, where many times it seems that we see the top but it is not, we have to keep going.

Finally, if we see the objective of the day, in a halo of light sorrounding the mountain, waw how beautiful!

Atmospheric alo, climbing towards the Mulleres

We skirt the peak to the right, we continue advancing up the long and uphill climb (on snowshoe) until we almost reach the top, where the snow is too frozen, demands us to put on our crampons to attack the final section to the peak.

Long climb to Mulleres

And we finally reached the top. It has been about 6h of walking to the top since we have left the refuge this morning, but it is really worth it, do not be discouraged and finish climbing to the end! 🙂

Views of the Maladeta and Aneto massif from the top pf the Mulleres

Views from Mulleres top

At Mulleres top

After enjoying the views, you can see the Aneto up close and the entire Maladeta massif from another perspective, and spending a while on the ridge (it is not very windy and the day is good) we go down the same path as we have climbed, passing again through the vertical wall in the gorge of the Escaleta.

Section with crampons and ice axe when entering the Escaleta gorge

We arrived at the Aiguallut plateau with the sunset, beautiful, and here we decided to shorten going up the Renclusa pass and finally descending to the hut (we do this section at night with our headlamps on, but we are lucky because a peaceful night accompanies us and starry, very beautifull).

Aiguallut plateau

We finally arrived at the hut, very very tired but very happy and satisfied. It’s just 7:00 p.m., time to arrive, take off our boots and have dinner!

Our faces when we arrived to the hut after 11h trakking.

Going up to the Mulleres peak from the Renclusa hut represents a magnificent journey that we consider difficult due to its duration (11h in winter) and due to the fact of having to change from snowshoes to crampons and ice axe in the access through the gorges to the Escaleta Valley and in the final section to the Mulleres peak.

DAY 4: Día de vuelta. Return day. Renclusa hut - Llanos del Hospital Parking

1h40min 6,3km -450m

We return exactly where we climbed the first day to the refuge, see the previous route up to La Maladeta. And once at the parking lot, we take the car and calmly towards Terrassa.

We have really enjoyed these winter mountaineering days, with these wonderful white landscapes. Without a doubt, wanting to repeat!

For more information and recommendations of the day:

  • Recommended equipment: Winter clothing, ARVA, shovel and probe, crampons and ice axe, GPS
  • La Renclusa Hut:
    • Half board price for federated: 35 euros/day
    • Link for reservations
    • Good facilities, rooms with individual bunk beds, hot showers without paying extra, the guards are always very attentive and knowledgeable about the area, excellent food and a fantastic mountain atmosphere.
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