Spain 15/08/2008

Up fairly early and started finishing my packing, had some food from the co-op then made the 12.10 train from liverpool st to get me to stanstead for 1pm, signed in really quickly and had a beer in the weathersoons whilst watching the olympics and reading panicology. Nick arrived while I was in the bar and John and Angela appearead at the last minute, there was no seat allocation on the plane so I grabbed a seat at the front with good legroom, after the 90 min flight I was second off the plane. We collected our bags and our picasso hire car which was huge and it took about 2 hours to drive to Johns place were we stayed the night, but we first had a couple of beers in the local bar and I had a lemon ice cream which was an actual lemon. We sat outside and drank our beers. The weather was nice. Angela cooked us dinner at John's place, and there was beer as well so I was really happy, we tried to watch spanish TV, but it was mostly adverts so we watched a dvd, bad boys 2 with Will Smith.
Up early and some bread and cheese for breakfast, wish I had had more before the end of the day, we set off pretty quickly and drove quite a long way to a cable car in the picos. We got into the cable car really quickly by a bit of queue jumping. Then we set off into the mist and soon achieved 1,900 metres in height, we were to climb another 500 metres at least, we got a bit seperated at first and we thought we were waiting for Nick, but Nick was waiting for us. We then set off up a very steep scree slope, that was tiring and a good bit of scrambling was required and at one point there was a bit that could have been really nasty if you slipped but we got past that and headed up higher. The sun was really nice at this point. We went up and up, it was getting quite tiring and John and Angela were dropping behind, so me and nick did a bit of trailblazing as this path was not very well marked, in fact there were just the occaisional cairn of stones, and then we followed a route that completely dissapeared. After a lot of discussion we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and we retreated to a safe route back to a hotel we had seen earlier. It was hard work at first as we had to retrace our steps up a hundred metres or so, and those muscles were pretty tired and it was drizzling down by then. We headed down then along a good marked path which was just as well as a mist came in. Myself and Nick went ahead and even so we didn't get in till about 8.45pm. Luckily the restaurant was open till 11pm and we had showers in our rooms. We showered and had a beer in the bar then we tucked into the menu of the day, very nice.
Excellent start to the day, nice shower, lovely coffee for breakfast and it was all cheaper than we expected. We set off at 10 am and had quite a long walk down into the valley. The hotel was down at 1,645 metres, then we dropped down to 850 metres then we climbed back to 1,915 metres to get to our refugio for the evening. We were in hot sunshine, then we had the luxury of some cloud cover that kept us cooler as we climbed up some well marked, and zig zagging paths. The paths were well travelled and it became obvious why when we got to the refugio as it was a stunning view, and we were above the cloud cover, it was really warm, and we had a little nap in the sun, which would have been a lot nicer without the noisy french who arrived soon after us. We baggsied some bunkbeds. The evening meal was quite filling with two man courses, but the second main course was best eaten whilst holding your breath. Afterwards Nick and John played chess whilst me and Angela played rummy for a bit.
Didn't sleep to well due to the noisy bunk conditons there were about 12 of us in the room. The breakfast was good though. I had two nice cups of coffee and we had french toast and biscuits, which we couldn't finish so I took them with me for lunch. A helicopter arrived just as we set off to add to the excitement. We went fine from the start and then came along some roped sections, I stayed with Angela and helped her up this bit, but we were fine really, we were making good time and got to a very small domed shelter. There were quite a few folks here and we managed to purchase cokes which was nice as it was pretty warm. We headed off following the spanish directions given but we soon went wrong. We followed a red route and some other climbers along a very narrow ridge with some steep drops, this wasn't good for Angelas confidence and it was even worse when we realised we were wrong and had to retrace our steps. We set off on the right route after a delay of about an hour. The route we took was quite taxing, then there was a 600metre climb to do before we dropped down to the refugio. I scouted out the route to the refugio, but it was really "brown trouser" stuff I got to the top of a ridge that was pretty narrow and traversed along it. This was very worrying as the drop was a thousand metres into cloud cover on one side. I found the cairns and the route but it slid into a drop and however I tried I couldn't see if the hole led to a reasonable route or just a straight drop, discretion had to be the better part of valour at this point. It was quite frustrating though as we were only a few hundred metres form the hut, but we could see no route to it that didn't look suicidal. So this meant a very long traverse back to the tiny shelter, It was 7.30pm by this time, and myself and Nick walked ahead. It still took us till nearly 9pm to walk to the hotel again and we got a bit wet as we had descended into the cloud, But we did meet some english speakers on the road in this time to chat with. John and Angela arrived at 9.40 as I was having a shower in our 6 person room, I was on the top bed of the bunks. Myself and Nick waited then for John and Angela in the bar, we had a table booked for 10.15pm. Myself and Nick didn't do very well on finishing our glasses of wine this time.