24 thoughts on “Walking the GR11 (Senda Pirenaica) in 2018: what is the earliest date to avoid snow?”

  1. Hi Steve. I was wondering whether it is now possible to predict how much snow will be present in early summer 2018? We are planning a walk through the central Pyrenees starting from Candanchu on 10 June. We expect to experience snow and will be carrying ice axe and crampons, but wondered whether the camping is also likely to be on snow at that time of the year.

    1. Hi Ian

      It is snowing today in the Pyrenees, down to 400m asl, so I suspect there will be more than average snow left by 10 June. It will be patchy. However, with crampons and ice axes and asking about avalanche zones you could be OK.

      From Candanchu you have two choices, the Canal Roya or the southern route. Both have potential avalanche zones. The northern route has a steep bit at the end of the Canal Roya but is much prettier. The southern is technically easier but overshaddowed by steep slopes. And most days thereafter you are likely to need crampons at some time. (Beware, after Panticosa, if the Barranco de Batanes is in spate it is best to cross to the southern bank well before you get to the junction with the Ara.) One useful resource is the webcams, especially the Respomuso webcam. It’s looking very white today!

      However, you almost certainly won’t need to camp on snow. Even at Respomuso and Góriz there will be patches without snow. On the other hand expect sub-zero temperatures in the morning.

      Have fun, keep safe…

      1. Thanks very much Steve, that is very helpful. I assume we should allow a little extra time for walking on snow. Hopefully it won’t be too far below zero in the mornings, our bags are rated to about -3 degrees.

        1. Hi Ian
          Walking on snow takes 1.5-2 times as long, especially if soft. At Respomuso and Goriz it could be -10°C and windy so best to stay in the hostels there. Elsewhere you should be at 1500m or lower. However, I forgot to point out that you do not need a tent as long as you plan carefully. There are many free huts see Pyrenees Refuges et Cabanes.

  2. Thanks again Steve. Wow, -10C would be too cold for us to camp. I imagine that would be unusual? Another site gives an average June minimum for Goriz of 6 degrees, so I thought a cold morning might be zero or a little below. We would like to be a little flexible with dates to allow for weather and possible climbing of peaks – do you know if Respomuso or Goriz would need to be booked in advance in mid June? Thank you very much for the link to the Cabanes, I’m sure some of these will be useful if available.

    Our general plan is to do a combination of the GR11 and the HRT depending on weather and snow cover – i.e. we would stay higher if possible, and break our month long journey into stages with a night in a village for supplies, a good meal and bed between each stage. The first stage we have planned is Candanchu to Torla, if possible via the HRT to Refuge d’Arremoulit and then switching back to the GR11 at Respomuso, then to Refuge Wallon, back into Spain at Col d’Arratille and rejoining the GR11 and down the Rio Ara to Torla. Most of the next two stages (Torla to Parzan and Parzan to Banasque) would be on the GR11, then on the HRT again in Catalunya and Andorra – we are planning to finish at l’Hospitalet-pres-l’Andorre.

    1. Hi Ian

      I’m interested in which site you are using for the temperatures. Please let me know [and also let us know what the actual temperature and conditions are so others coming along will be warned]. June is a month which can start cold and warm up quickly so I suppose the average minimum could be correct though it seems high to me.

      I don’t think Respomuso will be booked up in mid June but you should still ring them two days in advance if possible. Goriz, on the other hand is very popular. In mid-week you should be OK ringing up two days before but if it is a weekend more notice would be safer. But you are right, flexibility is important… and more fun than slogging through bad weather because you have to be somewhere.

      Your plan sounds reasonable. It is more-or-less what I did in 2016. It was mid-July by the time I got to Somport – note the snow at the Ibones de la Facha.


  3. Hi, Steve.
    We are planning our track (stages 1-11 ) from Cabo de Higuer to Candanchu. We’ll start in 7 june 2019and finish on 17/18 of June.
    At this time in this part of the route can be snow?

    1. Hi Oleg

      This year you would have had snow after Zuriza at the higher passes, but if we only have the average amount of snow this coming winter it won’t be a problem.

      Happy planning.

  4. Hi,Steve
    Zuriz, this is one of the last stages, it’s still + 8-9 days from our start.
    King regards

  5. Hi,Steve
    I have a question obout:
    Stage 10 (discontinued): Aguas Tuertas – Candanchú
    It closed?
    Best regards

    1. The GR11 has been rerouted to avoid a difficulty after Aguas Tuertas. It now goes via Lizara. There are several possible routes.

      Yes it’s true that Zuriza is towards the end of your holiday. I was being cautious after this year where some people had difficulties because they had started too early.

  6. Hi, Steve
    I oredered you bookand yesterday received it.
    There is little information on the Internet about insect in GR11. This year in mid-jine we’ll pass first 11 stage of GR11.Bug (head) net is nesessary?
    King regards

    1. Hi Oleg
      Insects are not a problem, except perhaps for ticks in the Basque country. You need to check that you don’t have one sucking your blood, but the only way of protecting yourself is clothing. Most people won’t be bitten, but if you are it is a good idea to get antibiotics because ticks may carry Lyme disease.

  7. Hi Steve,
    We, mid aged couple, are planning to do the GR11 in summer 2019. I have a few questions. We have asked the Spanish mountaineering club for a membership -no answer so far – what would you recommend? We have also seen that Brian Johnson’s The GR11 Trail has been updated with a new edition. Do you know what differences there are to the 2014 edition? Other goods tricks we should know of when we have the age we have (61,57 – almost 58 when going). Best regards, Kirsten

    1. Hi Kirsten and Karsten

      If you want to be a member of the national mountain federation you need to be a member of a local or regional club first. I’m not sure why you would want to be a member, unless it is to have cheaper rates in hostels. Let me know and I’ll see if I can find a solution.

      Yes, I think it would be a good idea to buy the latest guide. The maps are better and up-to-date info could be vital.

      As for your age, I am older than you, so that’s not important. What you don’t say is how much recent experience of long distance walking you have in high mountains. Nor whether you will be staying in huts or camping. Again please let me know.

  8. Hi, Steve
    I need a bear canister or any food protection methods to safe my meals from small animals,such as mice, rats, squirrels,marmots?
    King regards

  9. Hello,Steve
    Satellite phones or satellite messengers (spot gen3 or Garmin inReach mini) are nessesary in the GR11?
    Best regards

    1. Hi Oleg
      The first stages of the GR11 are quite easy and since you are not alone it is not worth the expense of a satellite connection for safety reasons. Your cellphone won’t work everywhere, however.

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