Last time I slept at Refugio Viados they kindly offered me the outlying hut. I’d asked for a quiet room if possible. This time I asked for it myself and enjoyed again private sleeping rather than dormitory hell. The food is quite good and the people are pleasant. At another table a British couple were entertained by three young Germans, exchanging jokes and offering wine. “Are beards fashionable in Germany” he asked, “because in Britain beards are very fashionable for young men”. I thought it was more the case, as with me, a lot of men don’t follow regimented shaving which means some of the time you have a half beard. “See if you can make her smile” he said to the Germans, concerning the waitress. “Snowdon’s not very interesting,” he told them. I considered if I felt the same. In my imagination, I shifted from these wonderful mountains to the British hills.

The valley walk following the HRP to Soula or here, to Port d’Estos, is initially the same. In simple terms you carry on and climb up at the end for the HRP or turn right for the GR11 and the Estos valley. Both paths are very steep. The HRP takes you down rocky scree and Soula is a strange unattractive refuge adjoining a power station. I was looking forward to seeing Estos and enjoyed walking the same path, the Zinqueta d’Anles Cruces, as I did six years ago. It’s a notably lovely area, more so because beautiful Posets stands beside it.

I was exhausted again. A pretty Spanish lady smiled and asked me if I was OK when she saw me labouring up the path to Port d’Estos or in Spanish, Puerto de Chistau (2592 metres). I wasn’t initially interested in this photograph. Now I think it’s a good shot of the Estos valley with a muted effect which is one mood of the Pyrenees and indeed all mountains. The view here is towards the Maladeta massif although you have to walk further to see it. Marmots shrieked at me as I descended. One on the left, one invisible in the rocks on the right. The following day I climbed up the mountains you see in the near distance.


Pyrenees Photography Book: Estos Valley

Sunday December 29, 2013