A mountain walk should not be compared to another, but there are routes in the shadow of the peaks that are unforgettable, sublime: the Ordesa valley is a gift in this sense, a small trip that everyone should appreciate at least once in life … as cliché as it may sound. It has been a century since the death of the French born in Paris, Lucien Briet, a reference Pyrenean, writer and photographer, the first to implore the protection of this unique natural space, as wild as it is beautiful. Declared a National Park in 1918, Briet had the sensitivity and determination to expressly request in 1911 that the valley be protected from the predatory action of “loggers, hunters, and trout fishermen.”
Briet arrived late to be an active element in the process of conquering the Pyrenean colossi: in fact, his fascination for the border massif was born from his admiration for Ramond de Carbonnières, considered the father of Pyrenees and the true promoter of the first ascent of Mount Lost. Although two of his guides were ahead of him, four days later, De Carbonnières reached its peak and was captivated by the views of the southern, or Spanish, slope, where the Ordesa Valley was drawn. Years later, Lucien Briet prolonged the work of his admired explorer by visiting in depth this valley and the Sierra de Guara (nowadays a canyoning paradise), taking countless photographs and writing texts, a couple of books and narrating the beauty and beauty in conferences. wealth of Alto Aragón.
Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park not only protects the aforementioned Ordesa valley but the neighboring valleys of Añisclo, Escuáin and Pineta, added to the National Park in 1982 to reach a total area of 15,608 hectares whose biodiversity It is invaluable, especially now that climate change has put the planet in check.
In the summer months, the town of Torla experiences a veritable flood of tourists and access to the Ordesa meadow is closed to traffic until mid-September. A huge parking lot located at the gates of the town welcomes the flow of vehicles and, from here, a bus service transports a mass of walkers, mountain runners, aspiring to the Lost or climbers to another world who, when picking up their backpacks from the trunk They hallucinate with the imposing verticality of the Tozal de Mallo, 400 meters of wall that looks like a set, pure props suspended from nowhere to intimidate newcomers. If there is a desired destination, this is the ‘horse tail’, that is, the waterfall that defines the bottom of the Ordesa Valley.
In just over two hours of comfortable walk we will see all the landscapes of the high Pyrenean mountains parade, where imposing limestone walls are born from green meadows that give way to beech forests next to the Arazas river. The flow plays with beautiful waterfalls such as the Soaso stands or the Arripas waterfall, a setting that protects the bottom of the valley from view. But when it is uncovered, some 2,000 meters above sea level, revealing a glacial cirque on which the summits of Cilindro or Monte Perdido rise, border bastions, the unforeseen spectacle shakes any sensitivity, even the less worked. Quite simply, its beauty is almost unmatched. Most choose to rest next to the ‘Cola de Caballo’, while a few continue their ascent on the way to the Góriz Refuge and its surrounding peaks.
A great option is to return through the Pelay Belt, also known as the hunters’ path. A narrow path suspended on the north slope of the valley allows us to reach the initial meadow again: its views over the depression, the glacial cirque, the Brecha de Rolando, the walls of the Fraucata, the Gallinero, the Open Book or the Tozal de Mallo they do not support descriptions. The Calcilarruego viewpoint is, in this sense, an obligatory stop. The park authorities recommend not setting foot in this strip after three in the afternoon: summer storms advise against it. Some complete the circular starting from the Pelay Belt and going back down the valley, but the initial steep drop of almost 700 positive meters will serve to dissuade the less trained. The round trip amounts to 20 kilometers, that is to say between five and six hours without too many stops: it should be remembered that it is not a free excursion. Although it does not present technical difficulties, it is more than recommended a comfortable, resistant and adapted footwear to the terrain, to carry warm clothes in the backpack, food and drink, as well as to carry out a previous preparation of the departure that allows us to understand what we have between hands. If summer is the busiest season in Ordesa, the changing colors of autumn and the decompression of visitors make waiting for the arrival of winter the ideal time to discover the place that fascinated Lucien Briet.
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