Climbing the Aneto, colossus of the Pyrenees
Estós River in the Benasque Valley
With its stunning beauty and its 3,404 metres, every year the Aneto tempts the conquering spirit of mountaineers from all over the world. Resplendent with light and life, the great colossus of the Aragon Pyrenees stands majestically over the impressive landscapes of the Posets-Maladeta Nature Reserve.
The Aneto is an ever-present watchtower of granite and ice, towering above the sea of mountains around the Benasque Valley, a stunning spot in the Posets-Maladeta Nature Reserve in the province of Huesca . Surrounded by the highest concentration of 3,000m peaks in the Pyrenees , its upper slopes are home to Spain's largest glacier.
Climbing this emblematic mountain is an adventure that requires respect and care, as well as appropriate equipment such as warm clothing, waterproof boots, ice-axe, crampons, harness, ropes, as well as the services of a professional mountain guide.
The Aneto can be explored at any time of year, but the most popular months to make a summit attempt are June and July when the weather is better and snow still covers crevices in the mountainside, making the way up safer. There is a bus that leaves the town of Benasque every half hour, taking visitors up amidst pine and fir forest to the Plan de Resurta Plain, the end of the road and start of the mountain climb.
After about forty-five minutes of pleasant ascent along a trail you reach the Renclusa Mountain Refuge, located on the lower northern slope of the Maladeta range. Note: If you want to spend the night here to begin your climb the following morning, it is a good idea to reserve a place beforehand.
From the refuge, following the classic ascent route, the landscape begins to change. Green meadows, home to scampering marmots, give way to a landscape of stark granite, typical of high-mountain areas. Jumping from rock to rock, in two or three hours you reach a pass called the Portillón Superior, where the Aneto glacier begins. From here there is a magnificent view, well worth a photo: the rectangular sea of ice, the valley, various peaks and, with a bit of luck, some intrepid climber will also form part of the landscape. This is also a good place to stop, rest, refuel with some dried fruit and put on crampons to climb over the ice.
Crossing the glacier normally takes about an hour and a half. The crossing is diagonal and should be undertaken with great caution. On reaching the Coronas Ridge, at the end of the great expanse of ice, crampons are removed for the last 200m of ascent to the famous Puente de Mahoma. This is a spectacular pass, 20 or 30 metres long, known as the most dangerous point on the climb, but essential to reach the summit. For this reason it is a good idea to use rope and harness for the crossing. Once at the peak, where you will find a cross, there is a spectacular view reaching from the Coronas Peak to the Maladeta.
After a descent of four or five hours, climbers can replace lost energy with typical gastronomy from the town of Benasque , based on age-old recipes from Aragon such as migas de pastor (fried breadcrumbs and meat) or lentils . A stay in this typical Pyrenees town, surrounded by the most spectacular landscapes, will complete the fascinating experience of climbing the Aneto.