Circular route to the Montardo from Arties (Pyrenees)


We propose one of the most beautiful activities of the Aran Valley, the circular route to the Montardo Departing from Arties. A hard route and that any mountaineer wanting to spend his boots should make. We did it in October, just before the first snow and with few people on the road.

Circular route to the Montardo from Arties

Circular route to the Montardo from Arties (Aran Valley)

The circular route to the Montardo does not have any technical difficulty, however we have described it with high difficulty due to its unevenness (+ 1600m) and length (+ 23km). This route starts from Arties in the Valle de Arán, specifically from the parking lot of Pont deth Ressec, which is usually closed by snow in winter.

Montardo Map

From this parking the two main slopes to the Montardo are made from Arties. The most common is a linear route that passes through the Restanca refuge. The other option is less common because of its length. It is circular and begins in the same direction only that instead of returning by the Restanca you take the GR-11.18 via Port de Caldes where once we get off we will turn down a little traveled road to the Estanhs de Montcasau and from there toPont deth Ressec.

Circular route to the Montardo

We start fromPont deth Ressec (1400m) about 8:30 in the morning in an October. The day dawns with clouds and higher temperatures than usual.

We take a dirt track that goes to our right where in theory only livestock vehicles can pass. This we will see a few kilometers later that is not so, total for saving you 2 km if you make the linear routeā€¦.

Pont deth Ressec

Finished the track at the height of the Rius Barrack (1647m), the path becomes a path through a very dense humid forest in a constant zig zag until you see the base of the lake of the Restanca. It is there that once the wall of the dam is overcome we reach theRestanca refuge located at 2010 meters high.

Restanca Lake - Circular route to the Montardo

Just in front of the shelter you can see a stream with a lot of flow coming from the Lac de Mar, one of the largest lakes in the area. However all the lakes in the area are with less water than usual and many of them completely dry.

Restanca Lake

After the shelter we go up to the next lake, the Cap deth Port, about 2241 meters. Smaller than the previous one but with great views over the Restanca. We can also see the next point to beat, theCrested Coll at 2475 meters.

Estanh deth Cap deth port

From the highest point of the Coll we have direct access to the Montardo, although we decided to go down a little and take the normal access road to the top, passing through the Petit Montardo.

Crested Coll

The views past the Crested Coll towards the Aigües Tortes National Park they are spectacular. Views of the lakes of Monges, Mangades and Travessant among others. One last.

Circular route to the Montardo from Arties

We begin the ascent by a simple zig zag without major complications until reaching the edge at about 2700 meters high. It is here that one decides to go directly to the Montardo or go first through the Petit Montardo of 2781 meters.

Final stretch of the Montardo

To our right we leave the small lakes of the Bosses de Montardo and we launch ourselves in the final section. Curiously, at this point we had a thermal inversion and the temperature began to rise, so much that at the top there was hardly any wind and it was phenomenal.

Bosses de Montardo

Already in the top All so happy. The funny thing is that behind us was our miniature vehicle parked in Pont deth Ressec and with a separation of 1400 meters of unevenness.

Top of the Montardo - Circular route to the Montardo

We start down the same road and head towards Port de Caldes at 2566 meters high. This is possibly the last big ramp of the day since we first went down to the Estany de Port de Caldes about 2400 meters to later attack the port.

On the way to Port de Caldes

The views from the Port de Caldes They are very good towards the Montardo. The bad thing is that in this month everything looks really dry due to the lack of rain.

From the Port de Caldes

Lack of rainfall that shows on the other side of the port and with the Lac deth Port de Caldes completely dry In the photo with a somewhat reddish tone.

From the Coll de Crestada - Circular route to the Montardo

We left the GR 11.18 just pass the dry lake of Port de Caldes. We take some milestones on our left quite hidden and along a path without any path.

On the way to the Estanh de Ribereta de Naut - Circular route to the Montardo

There came a time when we had to dive down towards a lake with plenty of water, the Ribnato de Naut Estanh, curious thing because your neighbor theRibnato Batsh Estanh, much larger, had 12 meters of water loss.

Ribnato de Naut Estanh

So dry that we decided to get out of the way and take shortcuts through its areas without water that are much more comfortable than the main path.

Ribnato Batsh Estanh

After the lake of Ribereta Batsh we go to a fairly wooded area towards the GR 11. From there the road becomes much more comfortable and easy to follow until the station Endesa Where there are a couple of lakes.

Estanhs de Monteasau

Be careful when you arrive at the station because the detour is not very well signposted and it is easy to get confused. You have to look for the signal from GR which goes very close to the stream that falls from the last of the lakes.

Plan de Mesila - Circular route to the Montardo

Once in the Dera Mesila's plan, where it is possible to arrive by car, all the way back runs along a wide track. We only have to follow the indications and about 4/5 kilometers later we will arrive at the Pont deth Ressec.

Long day with more than 23 kilometers of travel and almost 1700 meters of unevenness.

Practical data

Where to sleep?

The closest accommodation within the route is the refuge of the Restanca. Other options are in the Aran Valley that we show you below:

  • The refuge of Arán: aparthotel with swimming pool in Vielha.
  • Parador de Arties: excellent hotel with pool and in a really beautiful town.

What to wear

It is a long route that overcomes great slopes. We must bring enough food and water for 9 hours on the way. To this as usual: sun cream, sunglasses, cap, some coat, raincoat, canes and good shoes. Let's not be minimalist.

How to get to Pont deth Ressec?

Since Vielha we take direction Arties. As soon as Arties passes through the main road, you take a detour to the right that goes to the Arties power station. When passing it we follow the path until the end until we reach a parking lot where there is a map of the area.

Other places in the area


Thanks to my fellow travelers Manu, Michel and Gloria.

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