Adventures / Adventure School

Intro to Winter Skills in the Spanish Pyrenees

Trek through the powdery wilderness of the Parque Natural de Posets-Maladeta learning essential mountain skills as you go

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Trip Ref #10421

Adventures / Adventure School

Intro to Winter Skills in the Spanish Pyrenees

Trek through the powdery wilderness of the Parque Natural de Posets-Maladeta learning essential mountain skills as you go

DURATION

5 nights

LOCATION

France and Spain

ANNUAL LEAVE

4 days off work

SEASON

Jan-Mar

GROUP SIZE

Up to 8 people

MEETING POINT

Toulouse Airport, France

ACCOMMODATION

Guesthouse · Mountain hut

DIFFICULTY

Challenging

Be prepared, this is a real challenge with cold temperatures and some full-on sections, but so worth it

Grab your crampons and ice axe and tackle an epic winter ascent up Tuc de Molières (3,010m)

Hone your avalanche safety and crevasse rescue moves deep in the Maladeta Massif

Bunk down in a high Alpine refuge and build your own snow shelter on a night out in the wilds

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

Included

Guides

Expert, English-speaking wilderness guides

Accommodation

3 nights in a mountain refuge and 2 nights in a guesthouse

Meals

5 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 4 dinners

Transfers

Airport transfers and everything in-between

Equipment

All the survival and snowshoeing equipment you will need

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Some meals as described

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Toulouse Airport

11:00 on Day 1

Ends

Toulouse Airport

15:00 on Day 6

Transfers

Your adventure begins at 11:00 on Day 1 when your host will meet you at Toulouse Airport. A single group transfer by van is then taken to Bagnères-de-Luchon, your starting point for your winter skills Pyrenees adventure. On the final day, your host will transfer you from Bagnères-de-Luchon at 13:00 back to Toulouse Airport (TLS), arriving at around 15:00 in time for any evening flights.

If you arrive earlier or later, you can either arrange a private transfer with your host (see Optional Extras for price) or you can take a train from Toulouse-Matabiau the main railway station in Toulouse to Montrejeau Gourdan Polignan and then switch to the bus line (394) for the final leg to Bagnères-de-Luchon which takes in total about 3 hours.

Travel options

Toulouse Airport (TLS) is accessible via various direct flights from the UK and mainland Europe. Flights from the US generally connect through Paris, London or Frankfurt.

For those who wish to avoid flying, Toulouse train station is well connected with high-speed trains from London via Paris. The journey will take an average of 13 hours and usually involve 2 changes.

Day 1

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 4

Mountain hut · Mixed dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

For the first and fifth day of the trip, your evening meals will be local restaurants selected by your guide. The mountain huts offer full board. Breakfasts are usually continental - think juices, teas, coffee, yoghurts, bread and jams. Dinners meanwhile are hearty - expect soups, a main course with meat, vegetables and a side dish (rice, polenta, pasta), and dishes like vanilla pudding, crème brulée and fruit salads for dessert.

Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?

Bagnères-de-Luchon

You'll spend 2 nights at the Free Range Chalet (or similar), a beautiful guesthouse located in Bagnères-de-Luchon. This guesthouse was constructed during the boom era of the late 19th century in the traditional Luchonnaise way. Inside the building, the owners have tried to preserve as many original features as possible, whilst modernising the facilities. All of the bedrooms are en-suite and have been tastefully redecorated.

Spanish Pyrenees

You'll spend 3 nights at the Renclusa refuge, located in the Ésera valley at the foot of the Maladeta massif. The refuge was named for the peak directly above it – Tuca de la Pleta de la Renclusa – which rises to an altitude of 2679m. The refuge was constructed in 1912 and has been subjected to several renovations and extensions since. It currently provides 93 beds, running water, indoor toilets, a bar and meals. The refuge is also fitted with it’s own weather station which is part of the NiMet network.

Upgrades

Due to the limited number of rooms, it is not possible to request a private room upgrade for this trip.

Day 1

Welcome and gear check

Your host will meet you on arrival at Toulouse Airport and transfer you to the mountain town of Bagnères-de-Luchon, where you’ll catch your first peep of the snow-covered Pyrenees. You'll have a full kit check to make sure that you’ve got everything you need and chat through your experience and aspirations. All that’s left to do now is settle into your guesthouse, grab some dinner with your fellow adventurers and get ready for the challenging days ahead.

Day 2

Head for the mountains

Snowshoeing

5-6hrs · 8km · 615m up

An early start this morning. You’ll hop in the van and head to the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. It's then time to don your snowshoes as your guide shows you how to move through the soft snow while learning snow safety and how to assess snow conditions and avalanche risk. You’ll then continue through the snow-covered pine forests to reach the Renclusa Refuge at the foot of the Maladeta massif. Tuck into dinner before crawling into a well earned and cosy bed.

Day 3

Technical mountain skills

Ice Climbing

1-2hrs

Climbing

1-2hrs

Snowshoeing

1-2hrs

Today you'll take your winter skills to the next level. You'll begin with self-arresting, crampon and ice axe work in varying terrain and conditions - building snow and ice anchors and belays, moving over the snow and ice, crevasse rescue and the construction of snow holes. You'll also practice how to use the safety gear before road testing your newfound skills with a series of challenges. It's then back to the refuge for a hearty meal, a glass of wine, and a good night’s sleep.

Day 4

Mountain ascent in winter conditions

Hiking

8-9hrs · 18km · 870m up · 870m down

Today you’ll use your new skills to ascend the Tuc de Molières, an incredible 3,010m peak. You’ll also learn how to climb frozen rocks, belay your climbing partner, build anchors and how to navigate safely down. It’s a long day but once standing atop the peak, the views alone will make all your hard work worth it. You’ll then slowly make your way back to the refuge, where you have the option of crawling into a warm sleeping bag and spending the night inside your snow shelter you built yesterday.

Note that depending on conditions, you may be climbing an alternative peak, since snow and ice conditions in Pyrenees are notoriously unpredictable!

Day 5

Journey back to Bagnères-de-Luchon

Snowshoeing

4hrs · 6km · 615m down

Rise and shine for your final day deep in the Pyrenees. Strap on your snowshoes for one last time and make your way down into the forest until reaching the valley floor where you'll unclip your snowshoes, jump in the van and transfer back to Bagnères-de-Luchon in France. This evening you'll head out for a celebratory team dinner at a local fondue restaurant.

Day 6

Au revoir

Spend the morning easing those tired muscles in Bagnères-de-Luchon’s thermal baths and hot springs. After a good soak or a stroll through town, it's time to head home. Your transfer will pick you up from your guesthouse and transfer you to Toulouse airport in time for your onward journey.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • Crampons – Grivel G12
  • Ice axe – between 55cm and 65cm
  • Climbing harness
  • Climbing helmet
  • Snowshoes

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Backpack 60+ litres (big enough for all your personal things but remember you will be carrying it)
  • Daypack (20+ litres)
  • Waterproof liner for kitbag or rucksack / drybags

CLOTHES

  • Down jacket
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Breathable wicking layers
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Thermals (merino best)
  • Warm hat
  • Inner gloves
  • Ski gloves
  • Buff or neckscarf
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts / skirts
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear & socks
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses (make sure they’re decent UV and side protection)
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Lightweight shoes for inside refuge
  • Goretex gaiters (or equivalent)
  • Hiking boots (worn-in and 4 season waterproof boots with mid-high ankle support and must be crampon-compatible)

SLEEPING

  • Cotton or silk sleeping bag liner
  • Sleeping bag (3 season or 4 season if you wish to spend the night in a snow shelter)

OTHER

  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel Insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Headtorch or torch
  • Reusable water bottle x1 ltr
  • Mug (for mid-day tea and coffee breaks)
  • Energy bars and snacks
  • Trekking poles with snow baskets
  • Prusik loops, karabiners & slings

Pre/Post Trip Accommodation in Bagnères-de-Luchon (Single)

Payable Before Departure

Pre/Post Trip Accommodation in Bagnères-de-Luchon (Single)

Per Night

Pre-trip accommodation in Bagnères-de-Luchon (Twin/Double)

Payable Before Departure

Pre-trip accommodation in Bagnères-de-Luchon (Twin/Double)

Per Night

Private Airport Transfer- One way

Payable Before Departure

Private Airport Transfer- One way

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 68kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

A good level of fitness is recommended and you do not need any previous winter technical experience. You'll be out for up to 10 hours in a cold mountain environment moving over challenging terrain. You will encounter steep snowy sections where crampons and ice axes will be required. Your guides will give you a full safety briefing on how to use these. However difficult it gets, the views along the way make the journey more than worth it.

You will also need to carry your own big pack on days 2 and 5, so keep that in mind when packing. On the other days you will only need to carry a ‘day pack’ with essentials in (extra layer, snacks, water, suncream, camera etc).

Snowshoeing is a type of hiking that uses a special type of footwear - a snowshoe - to spread your weight over a larger area to help you move easily across snow-covered terrain. While today's snowshoes look modern, snowshoeing has actually played a vital role in mountain life for centuries, with traders and trappers using early wooden incarnations of snowshoes to move freely through the wilderness.

Snowshoeing is incredibly easy, comfortable, and safe. You simply clip your snowshoe to the outside of your hiking boot and off you go. You'll be in the hands of local, experienced, and trained mountain guides who know the area intimately and will guide you safely throughout the hike.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion and are non-compulsory on this trip. Of course, if you feel that your guides provided an exceptional experience then you are welcome to tip as much as you feel is appropriate. You should factor in tipping 10% on top of the bill in any bars and restaurants during the trip.

The water in the Pyrenees is safe to drink and you are able to fill up freely at the refuge and guesthouse that you stay at. Make sure to bring a couple of 1-litre reusable drinking bottles or a bladder.

During the winter months, the daytime temperature ranges from 2°C to 8°C. At 2000m the daytime temperature ranges from -5°C to 2°C. The Pyrenees receives most of its precipitation in the winter, normally falling as snow. However, you can expect mostly clear and sunny days with the odd day of cloud or snowfall. It should be noted that mountainous areas do generate their own weather systems and stormy weather cannot be ruled out at any time of the year.

Absolutely, you can leave anything you don't need at the guesthouse in Bagnères-de-Luchon at the start on your trip. You'll carry your own bag up to the mountain hut so we recommend packing light.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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