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Perdiguero from Ref. Portillon

Last week-end Reich and I, we went to Ref du Portillon to try climbing a 3.222 mtrs (10570,87 feet) mountain called Perdiguero.

I had been there 20 years ago with so much snow that we couldn't even get to the Portillon shelter at 2.550 mtrs (8366 feet). This time we had 3 days, one more than the previous one so I imagined, Perdiguero was going to be and easy target.

First day we started walking at 10h30 because we had to drive 3h30 from San Sebastian to Les granges d'astau. At 14h00 we arrived to the point where we slept years ago, that time we couldn't go much further but this time we decided to try. Only 4 hours light left and more than 600 mtrs (1968 ft) elevation to gain, we rested 20 mins and we continued without almost not stopping, arriving to the shelter at 18h00 almost with no light but so happy to have been able to complete the itinerary :-)

The shelter was big, in summer there is a person who takes care of it but in winter is open and free for the mountaineers. Though no electricity, no fireplace, nothing but cold. We were exhausted so we went directly to the dormitory, nobody was there, we cooked and we went into the sleeping bag. After having the feet exposed to the cold for hours it took time for them to get warm, it is in my case the part of my body that more time needs to recover in this conditions.

We slept really well and next morning at 6h30 we woke up with an idea in mind Perdiguero. We started walking at 8h30 to discover that it was not so easy to achieve the pic, already from the beginning we found a cliff where used to be the way in summer but this time covered by a pile of snow that made very dangerous to cross it. I managed but Reich gave up before trying and I am happy she didn't as while coming back I discovered how difficult really was this passage.

Once we renounced to the target a new one came into my mind, let's try Spijeoles 3065 mts (10055 ft), full of enthusiasm we lead our steps to that mountain to discover one hour later, once the sun appeared and started to melt the snow that we were moving too slow to get so far as we had programmed, so we decided to try Gourdon (3034 mts) a bit closer though finally we also gave up taking into account the snow conditions.

And it was then when we saw a new target right above our heads, what was that pic? the name was Xel de la Baca (3110 mtrs) 10.203ft. with and altitude higher than Gourdon, and it looked really accesible to me. Reich didn't think the same but I convinced her to try. First trial way was not possible as she started to doubt about their capacities, so I tried a new way, the one I thought at first sight it was the easier and bingo! it was not easy to convince her but once she saw me climbing with no problem, she came after.

Once in the sommet the day was spectacular, we were so happy of being at the top of one of the highest pics of the Pyrenees. After a few pictures we went down and we arrived quite quick to the Shelter, one hour before dawn, what gave us time to clean the snow that we found in the refuge the day before. Apparently one window had been opened during the last storms and the dinning room was a mess.

Next day, though the weather was still good we decide to come back, 5 hours of descent were waiting for us plus 3h30 drive to San Sebastian. It was a great decision, to be at home at 18h with plenty of time to relax after a great week-end and before starting a hard work week.

That day I went to bed with a conclusion in my important is to be flexible in mountains and how easy is to get again happy once one objective is substituted by another one. I think the behaviour in mountains is pretty similar to life, it is a great school :-)


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