Tenth Annual Summer Interdisciplinary Conference
The general area around the Caldes de Boi Spa Resort and the adjacent Aiguestortes national park offers many activities. (This section of the website will be elaborated as new information is found.)
There are many websites you might wish to browse, including those of the resort website, the national park, the Val de Boi, and those associated with various activities. I give a selection of these sites below. However, the best single site to start explorations would be Google Earth. Best to begin by downloading a current version (free). Then on the left column you may set your preferences by checking any the various options. For activities near our conference, start by clicking the following placemark that will bring you to the area: GOOGLE EARTH PLACEMARK. If not already checked in the left column of preferences, I suggest checking the following: ,Under Primary Database, check: Borders and Labels, Places, Panaramio Photos, Roads. Then under Gallery, check: Everytrail, Gigapan Photos, Gigapxl Photos, Google Earth Community, NASA, National Geographic Maps, Trimble Outdoor Trips, Wikiloc, You Tube. Wikiloc is particularly useful. Depending on what preferences you choose, and the degree of zooming in you choose, many icons will appear. Clicking an icon, and then clicking on it again when it is selected, will provide detailed information on the contents of the icon, which could be a photo of the area from that vantage point, a hiking trial, a climbing area, a biking route, some point of interest, or similar choices. Note that Google Earth not only allows zooming in and out, but allows 3D rotations so that one gets a good sense of the relief and topography. One can also see topo lines if one desires.
Another good option for exploration is topographic maps in zoomable format at the Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya: see: http://www.icc.es/eng/Home-ICC/Home/Cartography. Once at this website, click Catalogue of large-scale cartography The ASIC area is to the west of Andorra, just to the east of a line connecting el Pont de Suert and Vielha.
The hotel is in a fairly deep valley (Val de Boi) that extends up to a dam and lake, Cavallers. The Aiguestortes National Park is adjacent to the hotel, just to the east.
There is a great deal of hiking in the area. Many hikes are accessible from the hotel by foot, or after a short drive. These range from relatively short and flat but scenic walks of duration 1-2 hours to multiday hikes. I have selected a number of outstanding possibilities and give some details and photos next. In a few cases the information indicates that the trails are well maintained and obvious. In other cases the situation is less clear, and the way possibly may involve scrambling and directions marked by signposts or cairns. Before setting out on any of these, it would therefore be wise to check locally concerning the nature and difficulty of the route.
Carros del Foc
- See: http://www.carrosdefoc.com/esp/index.html
- See: http://www.summitpost.org/area/range/435492/pirineos-aran-aig-estortes.html
The longest renowned hike (for attendees coming before or staying after the conference) goes through the heart of the National Park, and connects all the refugios. These refugios are equipped and serve meals (and most have hot showers for a small fee). For superfit hikers, there is a possibility of doing the entire route in one day, called Carros del Foc:
“In 1987 some guards of the huts from the area decided to make the trek in just one day between the refuges. Someone called that the Carros de Foc (Charriots of fire). From then on, in winter or summer, word immediately spreads when someone makes the trek in one day, "Today the Carros de Foc is coming through". The trek still exists today. The itinerary of the Carros de Foc consists of passing the nine refuges which are maintained at the moment: Restanca (2010m)-Colomèrs (2100m)-Saboredo (2310m)-Amitges (2380m)-Ernets Mallafré (1885m)-JM Blanc (2320m)-Colomina (2395m)-Estany llong (2000m)-Ventosa i Calvell (2220m)-Restanca (2010m). Another option is the beginning in Ventosa walking to Restanca across the others.”
This round trip is about 50 miles with about 5300m of climbing and descending. Do not attempt this on a conference day. [Photos from various vantage points en route can be found on Google earth].
For hikes during the conference (that will return by 4 PM), or for days before or after when the return time is not limited, there are several long and spectacular hikes that I will describe next. These can be done in time for a return by 4 PM, albeit they might require an early start:
This is the high peak, 3014m, just to the east of Lake Cavallers, with a start at 1785m. One walks to the dam (a few km), or drives and parks there. Three routes exist. The route described in the above website is the longest in distance and time, because one first hikes to the Ventosa Refugio (about two hours) and then hikes about 3 hrs more to the top. (The route to the Refugio area is also a separately titled hike “Route of the Groudhog”). Shorter in time is the more direct route east from a start near (south of) the Cavallers dam, following the SSE ridge, over the ‘Barranc de Comalesbienes’, taking about 3 hrs 30 min. A slightly harder route starting at the same place goes over the S couloir, over the ‘Barranc de Comalespada’, taking 3 hours 45 minutes. At the conference date there could be some some walking on snow, but crampons should not be needed
Refugio Ventosa and surround
There is a good trail to the Ventosa Refugio (about two hours—300 m climb and 6 km). The route and the area around the Refugio (Lake Negre) has many points of interest. It is rewarding to continue on a short distance to Lake Travessani, with good views of the peak of the same name, and the ridge with spiky tops.
- See: http://naturarea.pleyhades.com/eng/Espanya/Catalunya/ParcsNaturals/Aiguestortes/RutaLAut.php
- On Google Earth this hike is labeled L’ Aud d’Erill
This peak lies to the southwest of the hotel. The trail starts a few km south of the hotel. It is about 4 hrs up and 3.5 hrs return, with about 1135m climbing.
Pic Coma les Torres
This peak and trail may be found on Google Earth. It leaves from the west side of the dam of Lake Cavallers and climbs to the west. It is a difficult hike of five miles, climbing 986 m.
This is a longer walk on a maintained trail (10.5 km) along the river Nicholas, with somewhat less elevation gain (820m) that goes to a lake at the center of the national park. It leaves several km south of the hotel, at a parking are to the east of the main road, and takes about 3.5 hrs up, and 2.5 hrs return. A separately titled hike, “Ruta de la Lludriga” (Route of the Otter) stops along the way at Planell de Aiguestortes, about 1.75 hrs and 140m gain. Once one reaches the Estany Llong there are several peaks around the lake that can be hiked. One is Portarro. From Estany Llong one climbs NE to Portarro d’ Espot, then SE to Augulle Portarro. A complete round trip to Portarro would be 22 miles and have about 1360m climbing.
Llubriqueto and beyond
One can hike directly west from Caldes de Boi to the Llubriqueto Plateau, passing waterfalls, and then to lake Gemena, about 3 hrs and 810 m. Another trail goes a little farther and 300m higher to Pic Gemena, about 2552m in altitude. Other trails continue north from Gemena lake toward Besiberi. The trials may be found on Google Earth.
Taull and east
Driving south from Caldes de Boi to Boi, and then a few km east one comes to Taull. Quite a few trails go east from Taull, of various lengths and to various peaks. The Pools of Pessar is one of the shorter, rising 800 m along a good trail GR-11. Consult Google Earth for possibilities and photos.
Several shorter hikes in the general area of the hotel are described in an English language brochure: “Routes and Hikes around Val de Boi”. This can be obtained at the Boi visitor center. Also see: http://www.vallboi.cat/en/senderisme/routes-and-hikes-around-vall-de-Boi/routes-and-hikes-around-vall-de-boi
There are a few maps/topos that show hiking trails in the area:
- ISBN 9788480900676: D Aiguestores i Estany de Saint Maurici National Park
- ISBN 1050069: Parc Nacional d'Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici edited by Alpina at 1:25.000 scale. It is an edition with two maps. (less advisable is a another by Alpina, Vall de Boí, covering a smaller area for the same price).
I have not found how to order it but there is supposed to be a detailed series of maps from the Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya, one at 1:25000 with good detail: "Parc Nacional d'Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici".
However, one can access via the web very good topos from the Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya at various scales (and download copies): see: http://www.icc.es/eng/Home-ICC/Home/Cartography. Once at this website, click Catalogue of large-scale cartography One finds a zoomable map, that can be dragged to different areas. The area we want is to the west of Andorra, just to the east of a line connecting el Pont de Suert and Vielha.
A few kilometers from the hotel is the Cavallers sport climbing area. It surrounds the dam and lake of the same name. There are several hundred sport climbs in about seven sectors, all within a few km of the hotel, and accessible with a short walk from parking. These are mostly single pitch but there are also a number of multi-pitch sport climbs. In the same area are many more long multipitch climbs (mostly at moderate or easy difficulty levels) that require some gear placement, though typically equipped with belay and abseiling anchors.
There are two books on Cavallers climbing: For sport climbing near the hotel, one can use “Pyrenees Rock” by Andreas and Katrin Motset. This book covers 13 Pyrenees climbing areas, one of which is Cavallers. It is written in both English and German (facing pages).
For all types of rock climbing in the Cavallers area there is a nice book written in Spanish: “Roca Caliente en Los Pirineos Cavallers”, by Luis Alfonso and Xavier Buxo. It covers both sport climbing areas (that often contain mixed and traditional climbs as well), and quite long multi-pitch traditional climbs (usually requiring gear placement, although there may be anchors for belaying and rapelling). This book covers three areas one in the vicinity of the hotel and the two others in the National Park. The first 173 pages cover the general area near the Cavallers Dam and Lake (the areas nearest the hotel). This section gives much of the same information as the Motset book but also includes a large number of the multi-pitch longer climbs that are not found in the Motset book. The second section, on pages 173-273, covers the area around Refugio Ventosa and Lake Negre, called Travessani. The Refugio Ventosa is about a two hours walk from the parking at the dam. Given four hours of approaching and returning, the time available for climbing is obviously limited. Nonetheless there is great scenery on the walk to Ventosa, and in the area of the Refugio (see the Hiking Section above), and there is terrific multi-pitch climbing on peaks quite close to the Refugio at very modest difficulty levels. I would therefore recommend at least one day (with an early start) taken to trek to and climb at the Travessani area. The last area covered in the book is in the vicinity of Estany Llong (Lake Llong). The hike to and from Estany Llong from the nearest parking (south of the hotel—see the Hiking Section above) takes about 6+ hours, so is probably too far to visit for climbing (although an excellent target for hikers). There are so many opportunities for climbing of all sorts in the area of the hotel, and in Travessani, that it would take years to explore them all, and no one should worry that the Estany Llong area is probably too far for climbing during the conference. I repeat that this book is particularly valuable because it covers all types of rock climbing (sport, trad, and mixed climbs), from single pitch to 1000+ meters, most of the longer multipitch climbs being of moderate grades.
We usually have one or two group climbing days for everyone from beginners wanting to try climbing to experts. [There does not appear to be a local climbing shop, so I will supply information later on means for obtaining gear (for those coming without their own). It is possible that our guide, Guido Bonvicini, will drive to the site with his van containing gear. If this does not work, then another possibility is renting gear in Barcelona, or Lleida en route to the conference.]
Here are a few pictures to illustrate the possibilities:
Excellent mountain biking and road biking opportunities exist in the general area of the hotel. Trails of both sorts are given on Google Earth. Some information is given on the Catalonia Sporting site given just below. [I am unsure where local bicycle rentals may be obtained but will try to add this information later.]
CANYONING, RAFTING, CAVING, PARASAILING, VIA FERRATA and more:
I will add more detailed information later, but please see the Catalonian Sporting website at: http://www.rural-pyrenees-guide.com/catalonia-sports.html.
SOME OTHER POTENTIALLY USEFUL WEBSITES: