When the doctor
Russian-German Johan Jacob Wilhelm Friedrich Parrot arrived in 1817 in the Pyrenees,
was already a reputed scientist thanks to his work of registering altitudes
in the Alps and in the Caucasus that he carried out with a thermo-barometer of his
He came to the central Pyrenees with the intention of climbing the Midi
d'Ossau, but did not succeed, and also had to give up reaching the top of the
Vignemale and Monte Perdido by its north face, being satisfied to climb to
this last summit from Góriz. He soon came to join Luchon, interested in Maladeta.
Parrot left for the
then it was believed to be the "roof" of the mountain range on September 28, accompanied by
a hunter, carpenter and local guide of sixty-one years, Pierre Barrau,
Pierrine, who had already participated in previous attempts to the mountain nicknamed
the "Bad of Aragon."
"A little wine from Spain and lots of
of bread and cheese "
By the port of Benasque, the two men crossed to
the Renclusa, in whose cave Turmaou bivouac. Parrot, I always look at your
food, would replenish forces with "a little wine from Spain and great quantity
bread and cheese ".
In the book he published in 1823 on this adventure reflected
his emotions on the eve of the climb: "The Moon came out, illuminating the
imposing and majestic mole of the snows of the Maladeta, at the foot of which I
I found, discovering every gorge, every ridge, to the highest summit.
distant my soul was full of hope, hoping that the next day the
ascension would not be in vain. "
About five in the morning, the couple addressed
to the Maladeta glacier, that year very cracked and with a thin layer of
snow. They would not follow the route of the Portillones crest where they had
starred most of the efforts of his predecessors. Once forward
to the glacier, they put on some rustic crampons and they went up by the ice until
standing in front of the Great Rimaya, a huge gap between the end
of the ice and the wall under the Neck of the Maladeta.
At that time, between both
there was a heated debate to see where they would attack the wall. For
to avoid the crack, the doctor attempted to climb directly over the
Maladeta; but faced with the difficulties of the wall would be forced to
to return to the Great Rimaya, where his veteran companion awaited him.
they decided to cross the crack by a delicate snow bridge, but Barrau
stopped when they reached the unstable blocks. This decision did not surprise
Parrot, who started climbing a fireplace alone. The luchonés
thought better and, although his interest for the summit was relative, finished
reaching your client in time to help you overcome the most complicated part
of the wall by a step of shoulders.
It was nine o'clock in the morning of September 29, 1817
Supporting each other, ended
in the northwest corner, from where they won without major problems the summit of
the mountain. It was nine o'clock on the morning of September 29, 1817 . Parrot
showed "comforted by that pure and pure air, by the pleasant
sense of victory that rewarded the efforts, the success of a
beautiful project ".
From this eastern peak of Maladeta studied the nearby
Aneto still inescalado and considered it like the real "cusp" of the mountain range, and
even pointed to the most obvious route, which coincides with the current route
normal. The two companions would remain for an hour on the top rocks before
to start the descent that almost ends in tragedy.
While Barrau was coming down with
slowness towards the obvious gendarme of the edge, who would later receive the
name the Two Men, Parrot chose a descent that was closer to the
itinerary of rise, by the edge of a language of snow where it slipped. The
fall almost throws it inside the Great Rimaya, avoiding it at the last moment
thanks to the staff he carried: "In the absence of this," he wrote, "just a hop
boldly above the crack would have kept me from rushing in. "
he could suspect that this was the tragic fate that awaited his own
Pierre Barrau, seven years later in the same rimaya. Without further embarrassment,
Friedrich Parrot and Pierre Barrau descended the Maladeta glacier,
descended to what is now the Besurta and passed through France to the port of
Picada arriving at Luchon at eight o'clock in the afternoon; Pierrine riding a mule
which he had left in the Renclusa and Parrau walking, as was his custom.
proeza was very commented in the beach resort, since the mountaineers of the zone
they maintained that it was in the Montes Malditos that the
high and difficult of the Pyrenees.
Parrot would say goodbye to his mountain from another
the watchtowers chosen to study the Pyrenean relief: the Gallinero, where
traced a beautiful drawing of the Maladeta and its neighboring peaks. Russian-German
would end the crossing of the Pyrenees from coast to coast in twenty-two
March. Without a doubt, he was a Pyrenean as ephemeral as he was brilliant.
The mystery of the name
Where did the name Maladeta come from? It is not known very well.
An explanation that is taking weight says that it comes from Eta Mall, which
would mean "the highest" or "high summit".
It was supposed to be what they called it
the Benasqueses to these mountains, but this matter is not entirely clear in
the writings of the Gallic scholars who, from Reboul to the late Le
Bondidier, investigated the subject. What is verifiable is that the voice
Benasquesa Mall, or Malh in Occitan (the language on the other side of the border),
appears frequently in summits of the zone: Mall Pintrat, Malh Pllanèr …
It is possible that the denomination Montes Malditos derives from this
extended legend that speaks of Christ disguised as a beggar who punishes the
lack of generosity of pastoralists in the area turning their cattle into rocks
and the prairies on ice.
Until recently, "Maladetas" were all the
points that form the crest of two kilometers that goes from the hill of Alba
to the Cursed Peak. Now it is only called the 3,308 quota (3,311 in the IGN). To the
rest have been assigned names of guides and renowned pirineístas: Delmás,
Mir, Sayó, Cordier, Abadías. Curiously, neither is called Parrot or Barrau.
All roads to Maladeta
While at the top of the Aneto can be met
a weekend of spring or summer several hundred mountaineers, in the
top of the Maladeta it is possible that there is one or none. Are the things that
has to be a famous neighbor's. And that the two normal routes to the Maladeta
are varied, easy and considerably shorter than that of the Aneto, and that the views
from the summit they have nothing to envy to those that offers, including
the one of the romería that crosses the glacier of the Aneto and that, from its three thousand three hundred
long meters, will remind us of the rows of ants that traverse
The first of the normal routes is approximately the one that
ROUTE 1: For the glacier of the Maladeta
they used the pioneers; but from the middle of June (depending on the year)
and until the glacier has completely covered with the winter snowfalls,
is not usually used because the rimaya that forms between the mountain and the
glacier is so wide that it is very difficult to save it. The "summer" alternative is
somewhat longer and coincides with the route of the Aneto until the first part of the
Raise : 1.408 m.
Time : 9h 45
Difficulty : medium-high.
Route through high mountain areas with landmarks
stone: rocks, glacier and edge, with some steps of IIº inf.
mountaineers with experience.
Material : crampons and ice ax. Helmet recommended.
Cartography : Maladeta-Aneto. Editorial Alpina. 1 / 25,000.
in the parking lot of La Besurta. It should be borne in mind that from 1 July to
September 11, the track that reaches here closes and you have to leave the
car in Benasque or in the parking lot of Llanos del Hospital and use a
The first leaves Benasque at four thirty in the morning and is
known as the bus to Aneto, designed for those who are going to carry out
ascents of peaks of more than three thousand meters. If we do not want to get up early enough
we can spend the night in the shelter of the Renclusa, which is reached by walking in 45
minutes from the Besurta by a path well marked and with abundant posters.
If we decide to do it this way, it is imperative to book a lot
in advance the place in the refuge, one of the most "requested" of the Pyrenees.
From the Renclusa it is necessary to descend until the plain and to cross its streams with
up the various terraces to the southwest,
numerous milestones that mark the ascent towards the Aneto, route with which it coincides
to the vertical of the Upper Portillón.
At first we will find areas
grassy but as we gain height, the stones will be the
protagonists, making the ascent more and more uncomfortable. Be attentive
so as not to pass the moment when the route of the Maladeta separates from that of the
Aneto to avoid having to go back.
While the route of the Aneto is directed towards the Upper Portillón, the
that we are interested here insists on the southwest direction, pointing to the glacier of
the Maladeta. We overcome the lower moraines until we reach the glacier
in which, most likely, we will find the mark. Progress
may require the use of ice axes and crampons, and even the
stringing. In the shadow of the impressive Crencha de los Portillones, the
footprint gains height taking as reference the gendarme of the Two Men, who
is visibly cut over the ridge.
We will avoid going to the neck of the
Rimaya, that opens in the wall of the cord of the Maladeta to the right of the
said gendarme, to go towards a visible oblique corridor. You have to pay
much attention to the crossing of the rimaya that separates the snow from the rock. In fact,
if the month of June is advanced, it is a good idea to ask in La Renclusa if
you can still cross.
Once on the gravel and granite ramps of the
flank north of the Maladeta, we climbed by the strong steepness of the channel
being very careful not to detach the rocks very hit by the ice
until leaving to the ridge: the Maladeta is to the left, and to the right the
gendarme of the Two Men who remembers to Cordier and Barrau, pointing the vertical
of the point where they stopped in their attempt of 1802.
Turning your back on
monolith, we move towards the southeast by an edge that leads without large
difficulties to the summit. This summit, which is sometimes "surnamed" like this u
To distinguish it from the four western summits, constitutes a
balcony of the first order, surrounded as it is by a territory of glaciers
which inevitably diminish year after year and are a pale reflection
of those glaciers that fascinated Parrot and Barrau two hundred years ago.
ROUTE 2: Through the Pico Abbey
Time : 11 h.
Route by areas of high mountain with passage by glacier and edge,
with some steps of IIº inf and a quite aerial section between the Pico Abadías and
the hill that separates it from the Maladeta.
Level: For experienced mountaineers.
Material : crampons and ice ax. Helmet recommended.
Cartography : Maladeta-Aneto.
Editorial Alpina. 1 / 25,000.
In summer, the rimaya of the glacier of the
Maladeta can be so wide that there is no way to get to the rock. But no
this should not make us give up reaching the top. As almost all
mountains, the Maladeta can be approached by several routes, and after the
rimaya, that passes by the hill Cursed and the Pico Abadías is the most
This route is common to that of the Aneto until the first part of the
glacier of the Aneto. That is, instead of heading towards the glacier of the
Maladeta, we have to continue towards the Upper Portillón, cross it to
into the Aneto glacier and follow the trail until we reach
practically in the vertical of the Pico Abadías (approximately in the quota
3.050), when it is necessary to separate and begin to gain height without
consideration towards the Cursed hill.
On the other side we expect a very sight
of Lake of Cregüeña. A fun rocky ridge on which there will be
use your hands (eye with loose blocks and stones) will transport us
until the Pico Abadías, a tresmil little important but three thousand in the end.
It owes its name to Antonio Abadias, known with the nickname of El León del
Aneto and person in charge of Refúgio de la Renclusa after the death of his father-in-law José
Sayó. Then you have to lose about twenty meters before facing the south ridge
of the Maladeta, which starts being quite aerial to lose
verticality progressively until it reaches the highest point.
How to cross the Pyrenean high mountain
Pyrenean crests. Central Pyrenees Vol. II
by Pako Sánchez
34 selected itineraries cross the Pyrenean high mountain, passing by the most important summits of the Pre-Pyrenees, the National Park of Aigüestortes and SantMaurici, the Ribagorza headland, the Maladeta or Turbón massif, that solitary watchtower, and ends the periplo of crests in the undisputed king, the Aneto, with the unequaled crest Margarida-Tempestats-Aneto.
See Pyrenean crests. Pyrénées Oriental Vol. I