Pico Vallibierna 3067 m & Tuca de Culebras 3062 m from Refugio Cap de Llauset

When we have the time to visit Benasque Valley, we really try to make it count. This is the furthest valley in the Aragonese Pyrenees from home and we still have a lot of summits to bag in this area.

In the early summer of 2017 we crested two beauties in Posets-Maladeta Natural Park. They offer views of the biggest glaciar in all the range, Aneto Peak (tallest in the range) and Maladeta Peak all of which are, to state the obvious, sensational.

We started from the mountain refuge Cap de Llauset and to be honest it wasn’t too difficult of a hike, BUT do keep in mind that in order to summit both peaks, there’s a pass  between the two that requires some serious concentration and calculated movements. (Photos below).

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Views of Vallibierna & Tuca de Culebra peaks from the Embalse de Llauset where we left the car

It is a bit of a drive to the trailhead but the great news is that if you make the trek in summer and finish with some afternoon sun still lingering in the heavens above, your car is parked right next to a reservoir with some deliciously crisp glacial water inviting your exhausted muscles to relax a bit.

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Here’s our itinerary with some technical data:

– Park here at the trail head: Embalse de Llauset, 2145 m

– Hike up to mountain refuge: Refugio Cap de Llauset, 2425 m

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Cap de Llauset mountain refuge from below

– Stay the night: it was inaugurated in July of 2016 so the installations* are new and comfy

*bunk beds with pillows and blankets so bring your own sack or sheets. Reserve ahead of time, unless pitching a tent then you’re good. Although you might have to reserve meals ahead of time.

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– Start up the mountain. You can even sleep in a bit because you got 300 m of elevation gain out of the way already!

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Objective up ahead!
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One of the various “ibones” that you will encounter along the way..

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We even got some snow!

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And 642 m of elevation gain later….

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Vallibierna summit, with views of Aneto!

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– Here comes the part that is not recommended for those with vertigo: “Paso de Caballo” or horse pass. (Can you spot it in the photograph above?) The name originates from the manner* in which many choose to pass this very steep, almost vertical wall separating Vallibierna and Tuca de Culebras. It’s not necessary, in fact I would have been more nervous to straddle and hop forward along the crest, which is why we didn’t do it like that.

*There are a couple ways of crossing over to the other peak. The “Paso de Caballo” is the most thrilling way, there is however to the left of the crest a little “shepherd’s” path on which you can walk very carefully over.
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Jorge sizing up the “Paso de Caballo”

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Summit of Tuca de Culebras

Should you choose, the climb down the mountain takes you down a different route. We happen to prefer circular routes as it’s a constant surprise at every step.

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The snow melt was just starting and left us endless views of contrasting colors throughout the valley.

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The final descent gives you views of the reservoir the entire time, giving you even more incentive to get your booty back down to 2000 m for a post-climb dip in the emerald green waters of Embalse de Llauset.

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I love this mountain goat!

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