A travel blog of a journey that I started in 2010 and I don't know when it will end ...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Carros de Foc (Chariots of Fire). The hike route that links the nine Refuges of the Aigüestortes National Park and Lake Sant Maurici

After the also classic mtb route Pedals de Foc (Pedals of Fire) last year, I did the classic hike route Carros de Foc (Chariots of Fire). This time with my cousin Isabel! that we had the same holidays and desire of fresh mountains!

Before starting, and because of the rain and the forecast of rain, we postpone the starting day of the route a couple of days. At least we don’t want to start all wet! So we do some sightseeing around the Vall d’Aran (Arhan Valley) .
We visited the waterfalls of Saut deth Pish and make a walk to the Monastery of Montgarri following the river Noguera Pallaresa.
In Viehlla two sincere recommendations:
- Hotel Iori, www.iorihotel.com , charming small hotel. (There is also the option of Refuge Iori)
- Woolloomooloo, Carrer Major 8 Vielha, bar-restaurant that you can eat well at a very reasonable price.

Just before going to rent crampons and ice axes we checked at the carrosdefoc.com if the recomendation still stand… and hapily for us they tell us that is no longer nesesary! Ufff, we just save money and weight ... literally weight!
At the organization of Carrosdefoc.com they give the card to seal at the shelters, a route map, walking sticks and a technique hat. So we started Carros de Foc!!!

Access route: the route can be started from many points depending on the refuge chosen to begin/ finish the route. We have chosen the Restanca refuge, where there are 1h30m walk from the parking space accessible from Arnes. Click here to see more possible starting points.

We chose to do it with 6 days (5 nights) counterclockwise direction. The route is generally quite hard, continuous climbing hills and downhills valleys, high mountain terrain, very stony to the heights, sometimes with large blocks of granite. Normally the path is well marked with stone landmarks and wooden yellow sticks, but it is essential to bring a map.

The Route

1st Stage: Parking - Restanca Refuge - Ventosa Calvell Refuge

Steep climb to the Refuge and steep climb to Port de Rius, passing through Lake Cap de Port. A strong start of Carros de Foc.
We find everything snowy at the mountain pass, and we begin to go downhill altitude following the footsteps on the snow. The view of the semi-frozen lakes with snow white around is a very great image to see.

We arrived at the Refuge before 4pm. Rest and relaxation.
At Dinner we share a table with a group of 3 Mallorcans funny mans that they want to do the route with 3 days (machines!)

2nd Stage: Ventosa i Calvell Refuge - Estany Long Refuge

Early we have breakfast with the Mallorcans and we get ready fast because the stage is long and hard.
After just over 200metres downhill, we begin to climb altitude .... nice stretch of path sections and sections with large blocks of graphite to be overcome. We bordering sections of snow whenever we can till the only option is snow. Actually more comfortable than the big blocks ... Too get to the pass Contraix is very strong slope. We follow the footsteps doing Zigzag on the snow. We stop few times to recover and once we get to the Contraix Pass, we contemplated the views of the frozen lake Contraix down the next valley.

The descent to the lake is strong ... and everyone can slip down in the snow .... it is a fast way to get down.
We eat lunch near the Lake, and continue down a long stretch of rocky path that soon becomes more friendly path.
The change in vegetation as we descent is impressive. The last stretch to the refuge is very wooded with lots of water. The Refuge is filled to the flag. We are tired and tomorrow we expect a long period ...

3rd Stage: Estany Long Refuge - Colomina Refuge - JM Blanc Refuge

Long stage in distance and time. When we woke up it was raining, and stopped while we had breakfast and the clouds were quickly dissolved.
From the Refuge began a long climb to where it runs along the shoelace Dellui, Tiny Lakes Dellui, Lake Dellui to reach the Dellui pass. From where you have a bird's eye view of the lakes of the other valley.
From this point going down and passing by a lot of lakes, through a section of old mining roads and back up a bit to Colomina Refuge.
In Colomina we stop for lunch. The views are spectacular from the refuge. And again, up to a short but steep step up to “pas de l'ós” (path of the bear).
To descent briefly stunning scenery and then climb the Saburó pass. From the pass we descend for a while until the Refuge JM Blanc, located in Tort Paguera Lake in a magnificent setting.
The refuge is one of the best. Very practical and comfortable.

4th Stage: J.M. Blanc Refuge - St. Maurici Ernest Mallafré Refuge - Amitges Refuge

After observing the spectacular reflections on the water of the mountains of the place where we spent the night ... It seems that we will have a sunny day and we have to enjoy it! We try to leave the Refuge by the Estany de la Cabana (Lake of the Hut) for not to undo the yesterdays path way, and after a small time of deviation, we achieve again the path that leads to the Monestero pass. From there begins a long descent to Lake St. Maurici through a landscape of extreme beauty and grandeur.
Let us seal by Ernest Mallafré refuge and lunch at Lake St. Maurici. To continue to Amitges the path that goes next to the lake is closed for renovations. So we take the bigger path and follow the GR11. At the height of the Ratera waterfall we go to see it... After passing Ratera Lake, the Cabana lake, and a steep ascent, we reached the Amitges Refuge
The largest one of all the Refuge, with a terrace from where you can enjoy a magnificent views.

5th Stage: Amitges Refuge - Saboredo Refuge - Colomers Refuge

From the Refuge we started the climb to Port Ratera.
At the Pass, we decided to go down a path that passes Naut Lake and Lake Maggiore to finally arrive to Saboredo .
Saboredo not seem the same that the one in the photo of the guide … they renovated and expanded the Refuge the past winter. We seal the card and continue towards the Sendrosa pass that we do without difficulty.
The slope sown is fairly hard. I guess that we have accumulated from the start has to be notice .... There is a moment that we leave the path, and not until the lake Clòto we go back to the original sender.
After a short pass, we reach Colomers Refuge where we have lunch and rest.
We spend the afternoon watching the Cirque Colomers Lakes.

6th Stage: Colomers Refuge - Restanca Refuge - Parking

We started going up to Port de Caldes from where we descend to the Caldes lake to climb up the Col de Rius, where we meditate if we raise the Montardo hill or start descent to the car as we still have a long way on the road to Tarragona
We descent… at Restanca we seal the last space of the card and we drink a beer to celebrate... The descent to the car it feels longer than what it is ... the fatigue I suppose ... At Arties we have a cafe and we go to pick up the shirt ofFinisher ....

Experience to repeat!

Some Photos:
2014-07 Carros de Foc (CAT) https://photos.app.goo.gl/wc8UZCeen88rzVnYA

Catalan version

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