Pico de Aneto

  • Pico de Aneto
  • 3404 m
  • Primary factor 2812 m
  • Saddle is Puerto de Dima
  • Spain
  • Highest in the Pyrenees
  • Climbed September 1997.


How to get there: The nearest village is Benasque, it can be reached rather easily from Barcelona in Spain or from Toulouse in France.
Route description: This climb is practical to do in two days. The elevation gain is large, and you have to start early, which can be inconvenient unless you stay at the Refugio La Renclusa. The route is mostly non-technical, but requires crampons and ice-axe.
Day one: Drive past Benasque, and follow the road (which forks after a while, take the right fork past the hotel (Hospital de Benasque) until you reach the campground at 2010m. Hike up to Renclusa (2140m), which should take less than an hour. Spend the night here.
Day two: Breakfast is served around 6 am, and it's not a bad idea to start early. Scramble up the poorly defined, steep and rocky path up the mountainside towards Portillión Inferior, a cut in the ridge which leads from Pico de Renclusa (the prominent peak above the refugio) to Pico de Maladeta far above. Here you have two choices: you can go down into the rocky basin in the direction of Aneto (like we accidentally did, it is not recommended) or follow the ridge upwards, until you reach another cut in the ridge, called Portillión Superior. From here, hike across the boulderfield until you reach the glacier (these boulders are large and can be quite tiring to pass, hence it is much preferable to to go down through Superior than Inferior). When you reach the glacier, put on crampons and head towards Aneto, the furthermost peak along the glacier. The glacier was not crevassed when we were there, but that may and will change... be alert!
Then the hard part begins. Climb up the steep glacier on Aneto itself (crampons and ice-axe are important here), and follow the ridge. Soon you can see the large cross at the summit ahead.
There is still one obstacle to go, though. The ridge narrows, and has a few cuts in it. The ridgetop is quite exposed, and you might wish to rope up, but it's not difficult climbing. You might be able to circumvent the ridge top, first on the left, and then on the right, if snow conditions permit it, but this is trickier, if less exposed. The best and easiest is just to stay at the very top of the ridge these few meters.
After climbing the last pitch on the ridge, a 10 foot wall with plenty of handholds and footholds, you are at the summit. It's a large, rocky area, with plenty of room. Several monuments, including a large cross, stand on the summit, where one may relax for a while, if the weather is good.
Comments: The climb is rather long, and has a vertical of about 1500 meters from Renclusa to the summit (including the climb up to Portillón Superior on the return). There is no good trail to follow (except across the glacier, unless it has been snowing), mostly it's climbing up, around and over the large boulders that tend to block your route. You may need an ice axe and crampons to get up the steep Corona glacier.
Aneto is, however, a fine summit, which really gives you a feeling of being at the top of the world. If the weather is good, it's a wonderful climb.