Encantats Hut to Hut Snowshoe Trek

Trek over snowy passes from lake to lake

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You will be ‘enchanted’ by the magical beauty of these mountains and lakes in the Spanish Pyrenees, and a hut to hut snowshoe trek is the ultimate winter experience.  The Val d'Aran is somewhat of an anomaly - it is on the northern side of the Pyrenees, is the source of the Garonne River which runs into France and through Toulouse and Bordeaux, but is Spanish territory.  The history of this mountainous enclave is complex.  An Occitan dialect is the main language (Aranais) with Catalan, Spanish and French also spoken.  In the middle ages the valley's people voluntarily decided to rest with the Catalan-Aragonais crown rather than with the French, despite the stronger cultural (and geographic) links with France.  Until 1948 when the Vielha tunnel was constructed the valley was cut off from Spain throughout winter.

From  the founding member of the 2012 group comes a very nice testimonial and description of the trip - thanks John...

Up high"Where's the best place to be in Winter? Why, in the Encantats National Park, where the scenery of snow-decked mountains is even more magnificent than it is in the Summer. Happily the mountain refuges open for a short period in the very peak of the Winter season so that it is possible to make a tour around them, either on skis or on snowshoes.

So it was that seven of us, lead by guides Mandy and Sasha, set out at the end of February for a short snowshoe trek through this amazing area. The was a potential setback before we started - one of the key refuges had suffered a bust water pipe and was out of action - but Mandy quickly devised an alternative itinerary which necessarily made a couple of the days a bit longer than the normal trek, but we took them steadily so it was no hardship. The snow was in first rate condition as we made our way over cols and across frozen lakes, sometimes following the tracks of an earlier traveller, but just as often forging a new trail through the virgin snow. Sometimes we saw another party, more often we didn't. The weather was perfect. The welcome in the refuges was warm. Really it is difficult to imagine a more perfect holiday."

¤ Walk from refuge to refuge on snowshoes
¤ If you can walk, you can snowshoe - they provide excellent grip in the snow
¤ Wonderful wild and 'out there' atmosphere.
¤ Learn about snow and avalanche safety

Frozen Lakes and MountainsDates: 24 Feb - 3 March ou 3-10 March 2018
Price: 1150€pp which includes seven nights refuge/gite accommodation, all dinners, packed lunches & breakfasts, transfers to and from Toulouse along with all equipment needed for snow-shoeing (avalanche detectors -see safety in the mountains).
Not included: Afternoon tea, snacks, drinks with dinner, clothing requirements (see Winter Packing List).
Contact: Sian

Details:

Encantats Hut to Hut Ski TourEncantats, 'enchanted', 'magic' in Spanish evokes the beauty of these lake-filled mountains.  The Spanish National Park of Aigües-Tortes welcomes us and is the ideal place for a winter trek. A network of refuges has been put in place to allow us to trek on ideal snow-shoeing terrain (relatively gentle, yet with cols and summits on option). We trek for 6 days in this magical winter wonderland, from hut to hut, valley to valley, stopping by lake here, on a summit there for a picnic with hot tea and coffee. The cosy refuges allow us to eat wonderful hot evening meals, provide stoves and blankets for warmth at night and mean we can trek with relatively light packs. This is the ultimate winter experience!

Itinerary:

Bridge near RestancaDay One: Collection from either Toulouse or Carcassonne airport or railway station. We transfer to the Val d'Aran and sleep overnight in the valley, check our gear and discuss the plans for the week.

Day Two: We head straight up to the first refuge, Rentanca, arriving for lunch. We leave our packs and set off for an afternoon excursion, perhaps up to the Lago del Mar if conditions allow, or elsewhere if not.

Day Three: We leave the Restanca in a south- easterly direction heading towards the Col de Crestada and down amongst numerous frozen lakes to Ventosa i Calvell, our refuge for the night.

Day Four: We set out early from Ventosa over the Port de Colomers, again traversing over and around frozen lakes, down to the Colomers Refuge, in the heart of the cirque of the same name.

Day Five: From the Colomers refuge we climb up to the Port de Ratera, taking in the summit of the same name if conditions allow. From here, we drop down to the refuge, Amitges. A hot shower is an option here!

Day Six: We leave Amitges, heading off for Saboredo, the smallest and often favourite refuge of the trip, tucked under Encantats Snowshoemagnificent and mysterious granite summits. From here we may press on to Colomeres.

Day Seven: A final pass, back via the north side of the Colomers Cirque and we descend the beautiful GR11 back to our vehicle. Gite or hotel in Vielha/Arties with a stop at the Pyrenean museum in Sarladu.

Day Eight: We drive you back to Toulouse for drop off.

Reserve your place

To book you can use the on-line booking system below - check the start date and the end date and then proceed. The system will ask for a deposit which you pay using PayPal. Or, if you prefer, you can email us directly (sian@pyrenees-mountains.com), ring directly on +33 5 62 92 81 52 or Skype: sian.grigg.

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