Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park

ORDESA Y MONTE PERDIDO NATIONAL PARK

If someone asks me what is the most beautiful natural place in Spain, without hesitation I will always say: Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park (www.ordesa.net) in the Pyrenees of Huesca province, Aragon, Spain. This place is the natural border between France and Spain, a huge mountain range which divides these two beautiful countries. In France is also located the French Pyrenees, the natural continuation of the Spanish Pyrenees.

Established in 1918, Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park was the first protected natural area in Spain. It covers an extension of 156.08 km² and contains the impressive valleys of Ordesa and Anisclo.

Due to its natural wealth and resources, its irrefutable beauty and biological importance, in 1997 the park was made a world heritage place by UNESCO.

The highest mountain of the park is Monte Perdido and its summit is 3.355 meters above the sea level, and is the centre-piece of the park. You can access Monte Perdido from Spain and France too, but the easiest way to go is from Spain.

One of the most important treasures is nature and relevance wildlife of the park, including more than 1.500 types of flowers, 32 mammals, 8 species of reptile and about 171 different birds, including the iconic Bearded vulture.

TWO DAYS HIKING

Two days hiking were enough to fill my soul with peace, but I didn’t have enough time to discover other beautiful spots of the park. As I had only two days ahead, I chose the most famous route inside the park: from the starting point in La Pradera de Ordesa (1.320 meters) until the refuge of Góriz (2.200 meters), located on the lower slopes of Monte Perdido Mountain.

Friday

After work, we left Madrid around 4 PM. We arrived on Friday night at 10 PM to Torla village and we slept in a clean, new and wonderful hostel called Monte Perdido Albergue (www.ordesaalbergue.es). Beds, rooms and bathrooms were like in a hotel, really comfortable and with brand new furniture.

Saturday

We arrived to La Pradera de Ordesa (starting point) around 11 AM. It’s about 20 minutes driving from Torla. We took the GR 11 itinerary (GR is a European long-distance footpaths marked by painted signs and located in natural areas) which goes from La Pradera de Ordesa until Góriz refuge.

GR 11 starts in La Pradera. As soon as we took the path, the way went up by the left side of the Arazas River. Soon we started crossing an enigmatic and virgin Beech Forest (about 1,600 meters). The path took us to the waterfalls area, also called Gradas de Soaso. We continued hiking for a couple of kilometres and suddenly we arrived to the Circo de Soaso, the end of Ordesa Valley.

Fujifilm XT-1 + XF16mm f1.4 – ISO200 f5.6 4seg

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Fujifilm XT-1 + XF16mm f1.4 – ISO200 f8.0 14seg

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Definitely Ordesa Valley is one of the most wonderful landscapes I’ve ever seen in life. Crossing the valley is a unique experience. The way is surrounded by beautiful mountain walls which form part of the canyon; doubtlessly it made me feel an insignificant human being facing the Mother Nature’s majesty, right there, in front of me, the only word I could say was “respect”.

Ordesa Valley meets at the end the most famous waterfall of the park, well known as Cola de Caballo, a beautiful fall that its shape reminds of a horse tail. It is not the most beautiful fall, it is not the highest or the biggest one, but it is beautiful and it’s a nice spot to take a rest before climbing up until the refuge.

Fujifilm XT-1 + XF16mm f1.4 – ISO200 f8.0 15seg

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Fujifilm XT-1 + XF16mm f1.4 – ISO200 f11 20seg

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Fujifilm XT-1 + XF16mm f1.4 – ISO200 f8.0 15seg

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From now on the way gets harder but more fun. We continued our way up to the refuge. Soon it forked into two paths and we chose the hardest one, called Las Clavijas de Soaso. Along this way, we found a series of chains to assist climbers, so we had to scramble up through this particularly steep section of rocky faces. As soon as we completed this section, the landscape turned even more beautiful! As we gained altitude, the views turned absolutely stunning. We could appreciate and realise how amazing is the Circo de Soaso from this exceptional point of view.

At this altitude the landscape turns wilder and colder. Hikers don’t usually continue hiking from this point on because it is very far from La Pradera de Ordesa. Hereafter, the park exhibits an amazing secret, its most wonderful hidden place: The Circo de Góriz. A lot of wild Marmots welcomed us while a couple of Chamois were observing us. After this, we spotted the most beautiful waterfall I’ve ever seen in Spain, The Circo de Góriz Waterfall.

Fujifilm XT-1 + XF16mm f1.4 – ISO200 f5.6 10seg

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It was an unforgettable day, and finally we spotted the Góriz refuge (2.200 meters) where we slept at night (www.goriz.es). We hiked 15km in 7 hours.

Sunday

We woke up around 7 AM. Everyone was already awake or leaving already the refuge. We climb down by the same way to La Pradera de Ordesa. It’s very interesting how the landscape had changed when we returned; it felt like in another place. Indeed it was as beautiful as the day before.

We hiked 15km in 4 hours and half as we climbed down.

Fujifilm XT-1 + XF16mm f1.4 – ISO200 f16 1/90seg

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Fujifilm XT-1 + XF16mm f1.4 – ISO200 f11 1/75seg

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BEHIND THE CAMERA

When I’m hiking I like to carry only one lens as I want to feel free and comfortable. I chose the Fujinon XF16mm f1.4 lens for this trip, as I knew that 100% of my pictures would be landscapes. The Fujifilm XT-1 is an amazing camera, a tough one. The XT-1 and the XF16mm f1.4 are Water Resistant, a perfect combo to climb the mountain. On Saturday was partly cloudy and rained a little bit, but I wasn’t worried as I knew that my Fuji equipment is well-made to support bad weather conditions.

For waterfalls I used the Big Stopper (www.leefilters.com), a neutral density filter that reduces the amount of light 10 stops. Sometimes I used the ND filter to make climbers and hikers disappear from the scene I want to shoot.

Don’t forget to follow my work on my website: www.josecarpin.com

Fujifilm XT-1 + XF16mm f1.4 – ISO200 f5.6 1/450seg

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