Aneto

Aneto is the highest mountain in the Pyrenees and in Aragon, and Spain's third-highest mountain,[2] reaching a height of 3,404 metres (11,168 ft). It stands in the Spanish province of Huesca, the northernmost of all three Aragonese provinces, 4 miles south of the French border. It forms the southernmost part of the Maladeta massif. It is also still locally known as Pic de Néthou in French,[3] that name and its variants having been in general use until the beginning of the 20th century.

Aneto is located in the Posets-Maladeta Natural Park, in the municipality of Benasque, Huesca province, autonomous community of Aragon, Spain. It is part of the Maladeta massif and is located in the Benasque valley. It consists of Paleozoic terrain of a granitic nature and Mesozoic materials. Its northern side holds the largest glacier in the Pyrenees, covering 79.6 hectares (197 acres) in 2005; it is shrinking rapidly due to warming summer temperatures and decreasing winter precipitations over the 20th century – it covered 106.7 ha in 1981, and over 200 ha in the 19th century.[4] It is estimated that it has lost more than half of its surface in the last 100 years, and that it may disappear around 2050.[5]

Aneto
Aneto 01
North face of Aneto
Highest point
Elevation3,404 m (11,168 ft) [1]
Prominence2,812 m (9,226 ft) [1]
Ranked 123rd
Isolation514 kilometres (319 mi)
ListingList of mountains in Aragon, Ultra
Coordinates42°37′56″N 00°39′28″E / 42.63222°N 0.65778°ECoordinates: 42°37′56″N 00°39′28″E / 42.63222°N 0.65778°E
Geography
Aneto is located in Pyrenees
Aneto
Aneto
Location in the Pyrenees
LocationRibagorza, Aragon, Spain
Parent rangePyrenees
Climbing
First ascentJuly 20, 1842
Easiest routebasic snow/ice climb
Aneto 02
Aneto's summit and glacier seen from the upper Portillon

Toponym

Initially, the mountain did not even have a name. There are indications that the shepherds and hunters from the southern valleys referred to it as Malheta or Malahita or Punta. The first cultured traveller who saw it from the port (or pass) of Benasque, Louis Ramond de Carbonnières, simply described its appearance as "needles of ice" in 1787.[6][7]

The highest point of the Pyrenees eventually inherited the name of a village on its south-eastern side: Aneto.[6][7] The French, on hearing the Argonese pronunciation of "Aneto", retained the last two clearly accentuated phonetic syllables, "ne" and "tu", ignoring the first syllable "a". Based on such oral transcription, the French name "Netou" came to exist along with several historical variants: Nelto, Nettou, Anetthou, Annetton, Anelthou, Nethom or Aréthon, all used by various cartographers. Even though the summit and slopes are entirely within Spanish territory, the first extensive studies of the Pyrenees - and the only ones for the following 100 years - were French ones from the 19th century - starting with the very detailed study by Jean Daniel François Schrader (1844-1924) in 1874. So these names were the toponyms that were then used.[8] It took Émile Belloc's renown work on the Pyrenees (notably on its hydrology, glaciology and etymology) to establish the name of Aneto as the official toponym; he consistently used that name in 1898 already.[9]

History

Some 2km away on its north-west fringe lies the Maladeta peak that, though not being among the five highest peaks in the environment, gave its name to the entire massif.[10] It subsequently earned the greatest interest of climbers, especially in the early 18th century. Mainly, it was a matter of perspective, since from the natural entrance to the valley or arriving from France, its top is in the foreground, while the crest hides the true extent of its eastern neighbor, taller and with larger glaciers. Only when Friedrich von Parrot reached the top of the Maladeta in 1817, came the realisation that both Aneto as well as its neighbours the Pico del Medio, the Punta Astorg, the Pico Maldito and la Aguja Schmidt Endell towered higher. Until then, the Monte Perdido had been considered the highest. However, the uncovering of the highest point of the Pyrenees had hardly been accomplished when the mountain began to earn a reputation, as several glacial disasters, some fatal, dissipated the interest in crowning it - notably with the death of Luchon Barrau, considered the dean and leading expert in the area. He fell in a crack in the ice on Maladeta. This caused a real shock and the natives, already very fearful of venturing on the glacier, became genuinely scared of the mountain which they considered cursed.[6][7]

Geography

Valle de Benasque
Map of Aneto and the valleys and massifs that surround it.

Aneto rises to 3,404 meters above sea level in the centre of the Pyrenees mountain range. It lies entirely in Spain, just south of the main ridge of the Pyrenees and the border between France and Spain.[11] The peak lies in the north-east of the province of Huesca above the town of Benasque,

Aneto occupies the eastern end of the Malditos Massif which primarily consists of a 6km long ridge, running from north-west to south east at over 3000m. The ridge connects Aneto towards the east with the more visible Maladeta peak, further to the west, and includes the Coronas peaks and Pico Maldito, which, together with the crest of the portillons, gives the massif its characteristic image.[12][13]

Although the valley to the north is the source of the Ésera river, which flows west and then south, the northern slopes of Aneto and its glacier drain into a sinkhole in the Plan de Aigualluts and flow underground to the east where they resurface to empty into the Aran Valley and the Garonne river, flowing north into France and the Atlantic Ocean. The waters of the western and southern sides, flow into the Coronas and Llosas lakes respectively before draining separately into the river Ballibierna, which flows into the Esera, then the Cinca before joining the Ebro and flowing to the Mediterranean. Thus although Aneto does not lie on the main ridge of the Pyrenees, it does lie on the watershed between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Glaciers

This agglomeration of summits, all markedly Alpine, is the birthplace of what were once the largest glaciers in the Pyrenees, which stretched up to the mouth of the Congosto Ventamillo with depths of ice several hundred meters thick. Today, global warming has reduced the portentous mass to eleven glaciers that total only three hundred acres. No one knows for sure when the melting process began but despite a slight advance in the '50s[14] it has now accelerated rapidly, and it is expected that the Aneto permafrost and the glaciers of the Pyrenees could disappear around the middle of the 21st century. The Aneto-Maladeta massif sustains a total of 286 acres' surface, representing more than half of all the glaciers in Spain - all of which being located in the Pyrenees.[8]

There are three glaciers on the slopes of the mountain: the oldest, Aneto glacier on the north side; the Barrancos, alongside the Las Tempestades on the north-east side; and the Coronas or Coronado glacier on the south side.

The rest cannot truly be defined as glaciers without contention, as they have lost all mobility and do not behave as such. Among these are the Cregüella, Alba and Salenques glaciers, which are in a major state of decline. However, even considering them as snowfields, their past glacier state has kept them to date and they are expected to maintain their icy heart for decades.

Climbing

Panoramic view of the Maladeta massif. The Aneto summit is in the left side of the image.
Panoramic view of the Maladeta massif. The Aneto summit is in the left side of the image.

The mountain's ascent is usually made from the Renclusa Refuge (2,140 m). From there, the itinerary traverses the longest part of the glacier that extends to the north of the peak. The summit is defended by a short rocky passage called the Bridge of Mohammed. It is a narrow ridge of large, stable blocks, with an exposed drop on either side. At the summit is an impressive cross and a contrasting view, with the snow-covered Maladeta massif north-west and the Alto Aragon region to the south.

The usual ascent is a very easy although long (12-hour) alpine route. It is taken by many people each year, including many with little or no experience of alpine climbing or high level walking. The high number of people who come to climb Aneto each year makes a significant contribution to the local economy. The vast majority of the people staying at the Renclusa Refuge are there solely to climb Aneto. By comparison many of the adjacent peaks, which are arguably finer climbs, see relatively few ascents and are comparatively quiet.

First ascent

On 18 July 1842, Platon de Tchihatcheff (Чихачёв, Chikhachev), a former Russian officer vacationing in Luchon, left from Bagnères-de-Luchon accompanied by guides Pierre Sanio de Luz, Luchonnais Bernard Arrazau and Pierre Redonnet. Also in the party were Albert de Franqueville, a Norman botanist, and his guide, Jean Sors. They took the trail from the Hospice de France, crossed the Benasque Pass, then spent the night at the La Renclusa shelter, a simple construction of dry rocks that is now a large mountain refuge.

The next day, they crossed a pass towards Alba pass and lost their way on the south slope around Lake Gregueña. Late in the day, at the end of their strength, they took refuge for the night in a cabin near the Vallibierna valley.

As the sun rose the next morning, the group left for the Coroné pass. Despite a fear of crevasses, they decided to approach the summit by the glacier. After climbing a ridge only a few metres wide (named the "Bridge of Muhammad" by Albert de Franqueville as it is believed, according to a Muslim legend that says that the entrance to Paradise is as narrow as the blade of a scimitar on which only the righteous pass), they reached the summit on 20 July 1842, where they constructed a cairn and left a bottle containing each climber's name. Tchihatcheff wanted to open a more direct route back across the glacier, but his companions flatly refused, forcing him to yield. Four days later he performed a second ascent with another group, pursuing the same objective that his first companions had denied him. On crossing the Portillon, in view of the cracks that furrowed the glacier, a mutiny almost started, but finally, after everyone tied themselves to a big rope, they crossed the chasms and the passage of Muhammad was defeated a second time.

Thereafter Aneto entered into the dynamics of dissemination and popularization of the Pyrenees peaks. In France, its ascension became a great classic and every spring tourist to Bagneres de Luchon had to try it. Henry Spont wrote a book reflecting on this experience, simply titled Le Néthou, describing the trip, the schedule and recommended equipment.

First winter ascent

The first winter ascent of the mountain was achieved on 1 March 1878 by Roger de Monts, B. Courrèges, and B. and V. Paget.

Flora

Flora y Maladeta
Pine forest at the foot of the massif of Maladeta.

The uniqueness of the massif and its appeal has led to the virtual abandonment of farming activities, replaced by tourism. The flora of the environment, therefore, has been impeccably conserved, especially on hillsides and massifs, where the forests remain in their primary state.

Upper Alpine

This layer, which reaches 3,404 meters above sea level, is the one that presents greatest difficulties for the development of life. The harsh weather conditions that the plants have to endure at the top of the peaks, ridges and crests, require the development of an extraordinary resilience. There are a number of factors to endure such as strong insolation, low temperatures and short growing seasons in the presence of snow most of the year.

Totally devoid of woody vegetation, it is colonized by more than 100 plant species, including lichens, mosses, succulents and microscopic algae. Among the flora present are the Androsace Vandelli, which is found at 2,800 meters, and the Silene acaulis.[15] 20% of these species are endemic to the Pyrenees.

Air traffic boundary

An aviation intersection called ANETO exists very close to the mountain itself, exactly on the border of France and Spain. For pilots crossing the Pyrenees this intersection marks the boundary between the Bordeaux and Barcelona airspaces.

See also

Aneto panorama
Aneto Peak (3404m) summit panorama, looking South West, Pyrenees range

References

  1. ^ a b "Aneto". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2010-03-07.
  2. ^ Following 3,718 m high Teide on the Canary Island of Tenerife and 3,479 m high Mulhacén in the Sierra Nevada.
  3. ^ Spanish Nature: Aneto.
  4. ^ Boletín Glaciológico Aragonés, 2004.
  5. ^ "Artículo sobre el deshielo del glaciar del Aneto de GreenPeace (GreenPeace article on the melting Aneto glacier)" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2010-07-26. Retrieved 2012-10-21.
  6. ^ a b c "Historia del Aneto (History of Aneto)" (in Spanish)..
  7. ^ a b c Martínez Embid, Alberto (2007). "Perspectivas desde la corona del Monarca". Grandes Espacios Naturales (Great Natural Spaces) (in Spanish) (118).
  8. ^ a b "Spanish glaciers: the southernmost series of glaciological specimens in Europe". European Environment Agency. 26 Nov 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  9. ^ Émile Belloc (1898). "De Bagnères-de-Luchon aux Monts-Maudits. Récits de courses et d'expériences (From Bagnères-de-Luchon to the Monts-Maudits. Stories of travels and experiences)" (in French). Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  10. ^ Maladeta Massif on summitpost.org.
  11. ^ "Espacio Pirienos" (in Spanish). 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-08-05. Retrieved 21 October 2012..
  12. ^ "Introducción a los pirineos (Introduction to the Pyrenees)" (in Spanish).
  13. ^ "South face of Maladeta Massif". Retrieved 21 May 2016. Photo of the Maladeta massif with names of its peaks.
  14. ^ Davis Serrat and Josep Ventura. "Glaciers of Europe — Glaciers of the Pyrenees, Spain and France. U.S. Geological survey professional paper 1386-E-2" (PDF). Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  15. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in Spanish) Eduardo Viñuales, Guía Total: Pirineo Aragonés, editions Anaya, 1st édition, April 2001, Madrid, p. 26. ISBN 84-8165-807-3.

External links

Aigualluts

Aigualluts is a karst formation and waterfall in the Province of Huesca, northeastern Spain. It lies along the Ésera River, at 2074 m above sea level on Pico Aneto.

Airbus Helicopters X6

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Birkkarspitze

The Birkkarspitze (2749 m) is the highest mountain in the Karwendel range, Austria as well as an ultra prominent peak. It is located within the Innsbruck-Land District of Tyrol, Austria.

Birnhorn

The Birnhorn (2,634 m) is an isolated mountain in the Leoganger Steinberge, Northern Limestone Alps, Austria.

Cerler

Cerler, officially called Aramón Cerler, is a ski resort situated above the village of Cerler in the high Benasque Valley, near the town of Benasque in the central Pyrenees (province of Huesca, Spain). Near Cerler are the highest peaks of the Pyrenees, Aneto, Monte Perdido, and Posets.

Garonne

The Garonne (, also US: ; French: [ɡaʁɔn]; Occitan, Catalan, and Spanish: Garona, Occitan pronunciation: [ɡaˈɾunɔ, ɡaˈɾɔnɔ]; Latin: Garumna or Garunna) is a river in southwest France and northern Spain, with a length of 602 kilometres (374 mi). It flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Bordeaux.

Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne

The Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne (HRP) is a high level long-distance trail in the Pyrenees joining the Atlantic and Mediterranean. It mostly follows the approximate French and Spanish border and passes through Andorra.

Like the GR 10 and the GR 11, the path travels the length of the Pyrenees from coast to coast. However, where the GR 10 and GR 11 stick mainly to lower routes and mountain passes on the French and Spanish sides of the border respectively, the HRP follows a high course through the mountains and cols, frequently crossing the border to follow the highest walkable route. It is mostly an unmarked trail although the typical paths are sometimes marked by cairns of stones or small red and white painted marks. It is usually done from west to east, which takes about 45 days to complete for an experienced hiker. It crosses the Parc National des Pyrenées and the Parc nacional d'Aigüestortes i Sant Maurici. Many variations on the original route proposed by Georges Veron are possible and described in the guidebook, as well as some easy summits (Aneto, Vignemale). There are some popular and crowded places on the trail, but also very remote areas, where it can take a day before you see someone. In these areas it can be several days between huts, so it is necessary to carry a tent. The HRP crosses the Way of St. James (El Camino de Santiago) on the Col d'Ibañeta, near Roncevaux.

Like the GR 10, the HRP begins at Hendaye on the Atlantic coast and finishes at Banyuls-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean.

The HRP was devised by Georges Véron in 1968. Joosten's published version of the route deviates substantially from Véron's and both offer variants to their main itineraries. A digital (gpx) version of Joosten's guide, improved and expanded, can be obtained from www.hrpguide.org with all proceeds going to a Himalayan earthquake relief fund.

High Aragon

Alto Aragon (literally, Upper Aragon or Highlands of Aragon in English; compare Upper Navarre, Upper Rioja) is the northern-most territories or highlands of Aragon, flanking the Pyrenees and includes the Aneto Mountain, the highest peak in the entire Pyrenean chain. The term Alto Aragon, or highlands, is used to contrast with the Bajo Aragon, referring to the lowlands or flat plains of Aragon which roughly begins around the Somontano county of Huesca stretching south to the Ebro river basin.

The term Alto Aragon is also used interchangeably to refer to the Province of Huesca when speaking of northern Aragon.

The Alto Aragon or Highlands of Aragon are, historically and geographically, made up of the original independent counties of the Frankish Marca Hispanica, that would later expand to form the medieval Kingdom of Aragon.

Usually used in a cultural context, the term Alto Aragon, when referring to "the Highlands", conveys a sense of cultural character - of noble, fiercely independent, Pyrenean mountain people: of mythic heroes, legends, Templars and crusades. This strength of character is reflected in its architecture, mountain top villages, its robust cuisine, distinctive traditional clothing (now worn only in festivals, such as in Ansó), folk music and dancing, and most especially, in its language.

The Aragonese language was born in the Alto Aragon, the highlands, and today this is where it continues to be spoken most actively, by over 10,000 people.

List of European ultra-prominent peaks

This is a list of all the mountains in Europe with ultra-prominent peaks with topographic prominence greater than 1,500 metres or 4,900 feet. The column "Col" denotes the highest elevation to which one must descend from a peak in order to reach peaks with higher elevations; note that the elevation of any peak is the sum of its prominence and col.

List of Pyrenean three-thousanders

This list contains all of the Pyrenean three-thousanders, namely the 129 mountain summits of 3,000 metres (9,843 ft) or more above sea level in the Pyrenees, a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain. The Pyrenees separate the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of continental Europe, and extend for about 491 km (305 mi) from the Bay of Biscay (Cap Higuer) to the Mediterranean Sea (Cap de Creus). The highest mountain in the Pyrenees is Aneto in Spain at 3,404 metres (11,168 ft).

The summits meeting the 3,000-metre criterion were defined by a UIAA-sponsored joint Franco-Spanish team led by Juan Buyse. The UIAA list, published in 1990, also contains 83 secondary summits in addition to the 129 principal ones listed here, and divides the range into 11 zones. According to the latest surveys, three of the peaks in the original list are actually below 3000m but are still included below.

The selection criteria used here are quite broad – many of the peaks included are secondary summits of major mountains. Using prominence as a criterion, only one summit is an ultra-prominent peak, Aneto, a further three have a prominence of 1000m (Pico Posets, Pica d'Estats, Vignemale), and five more have a prominence of over 600m. Only 17 in total have a prominence of more than 300m, commonly used as a criterion for determining an independent mountain, and are indicated in bold in the table below. 28 more have a prominence of over 100m and can be considered significant summits.

All the peaks in this list are in Spain (59 peaks) or France (26 peaks), or delimit the border between the two countries (45). The two highest major mountains and their subsidiary summits (Aneto and Posets - Zone 7 and 9) are entirely in Spain, together with the Besiberri peaks (zone 10) while Pic Long and surrounding mountains (zone 5) are entirely in France. Most of the other mountains lie on or close to the border. The small country of Andorra is located in the eastern portion of the Pyrenees and is surrounded by Spain and France; its highest mountain – Coma Pedrosa at 2,942 metres (9,652 ft) – falls below the 3,000-metre threshold. The mountains are listed by height within each of the 11 zones.

List of mountains in Aragon

This is a list of mountains in Aragon, Spain. They include the Aneto, the highest peak in the Pyrenees, as well as the Moncayo, the highest peak in the Sistema Ibérico.

Maladeta

Maladeta (3,312 m) is a mountain in the Pyrenees, close to the highest peak in the range, Aneto. It is located in the Natural Park of Posets-Maladeta in the town of Benasque in Province of Huesca, Aragon, Spain. Its northern slope contains the 91-acre (37 ha) Maladeta Glacier, which is divided into the 15-acre (6 ha) Western Maladeta and the 77-acre (31 ha) Eastern Maladeta.

Maladeta was previously considered to be highest peak in the area, and attempts to reach its summit took priority over the other peaks in the range. The first successful ascent of the peak was made by Johann Jacob Friedrich Wilhelm Parrot with guide Pierre Barrau in 1817.

Pico Posets

Pico Posets or Punta de Llardana is the second highest peak of the Pyrenees, after Aneto. It is located in the Spanish province of Huesca and is 3,371 metres (11,060 ft) high.

Pyrenees

The Pyrenees (; Spanish: Pirineos [piɾiˈneos]; French: Pyrénées [piʁene]; Aragonese: Pirineus; Catalan: Pirineus [piɾiˈnɛws]; Occitan: Pirenèus; Basque: Pirinioak [piɾini.o.ak]) is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between Spain and France. Reaching a height of 3,404 metres (11,168 ft) altitude at the peak of Aneto, the range separates the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of continental Europe, and extends for about 491 km (305 mi) from the Bay of Biscay (Cap Higuer) to the Mediterranean Sea (Cap de Creus).

For the most part, the main crest forms a divide between Spain and France, with the microstate of Andorra sandwiched in between. The Principality of Catalonia alongside with the Kingdom of Aragon in the Crown of Aragon, Occitania and the Kingdom of Navarre have historically extended on both sides of the mountain range, with smaller northern portions now in France and larger southern parts now in Spain.

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Safran Aneto

The Safran Aneto is a turboshaft family targeted for the super-medium and heavy helicopters, developed by Safran Helicopter Engines, unveiled at London's Helitech on 3 October 2017 and covering the 2,500 to 3,000 hp (1,900 to 2,200 kW) range.

Southernmost glacial mass in Europe

The southernmost persistent glacial masses in Europe are mainly small glaciers, glacierets, and perennial firn fields and patches, located in the highest mountains of the three big southern European peninsulas - the Balkan, the Apennine, and the Iberian, with the exception of the glaciers in the southernmost ranges of the Alps and the much bigger glaciers on the european northwestern slopes of the Greater Caucasus mountains in Russia. There are summer lasting snow patches in Sierra Nevada (Corral de la Veleta glacier (37°03′24″) disappeared completely for a first time in 1913), in Mount Olympus (40°05′08″) (Kazania cirque), in Mount Korab (41°47′28″), in Rila Mountain (the cirque of the Seven Rila Lakes, Musala and Malyovitsa (42°10′25″) ridges), in Picos de Europa (43°11′51″) in the Cantabrian Mountains, in Mount Maglić (43°16′52″) and others. However, none of them have both persistency and indications of dynamic motion. In southern direction, some 4000 km away, are the glaciers in Africa in Rwenzori Mountains (00°23′09″N), Mount Kenya (00°09′03″S) and Mount Kilimanjaro (03°04′33″S).

List by latitude::

1. Snezhnika glacieret (41°46′09″), Pirin massif, Bulgaria2. Banski Suhodol Glacier (41°46′54″), Pirin mountain, Bulgaria

3. Mertur cirque glacier (42°23’55”), Hekurave range, Prokletije mountains, Albania

4. Maja Jezercë glaciers and glacierets (42°26’27”), Prokletije mountains, Albania

5. Calderone glacier (42°28′10”) Gran Sasso massif, Apennine Mountains, Italy

6. Kolata glacieret (42°29′00”), Kolata massif, Prokletije, Albania/Montenegro

7. Aneto glacier (42°37′32”), Aneto-Maladeta, Pyrenees, Spain

8. Posets glacier (42°39′10”), Pyrenees, Spain

9. Monte Perdido glacier (42°40′38”), Pyrenees, Spain

10. Mount Dzhimara Glacier (42°43′15″), the european northwestern slopes of Mount Dzhimara, Khokh Range, Greater Caucasus, Russia

11. Kolka Glacier (42°44′23″), the european northwestern slopes of Mount Kazbek, Khokh Range, Greater Caucasus, Russia

12. Picos del infierno glacierets (42°46′49”), Pyrenees, Spain

13. Debeli Namet glacier (43°06′50”), Durmitor, Montenegro

14. Monte Clapier glacier (44°06′44″), Maritime Alps, Italy

15. Monte Argentera glaciers (44°10′40″), Maritime Alps, Italy

16. Skuta Glacier (46°21′50’), Kamnik–Savinja Alps, Slovenia

17. Triglav glacieret (46°22′42″), Julian Alps, Slovenia

18. Marmolada Glacier (46°26′01″), Dolomites, Italy

19. Eiskar glacieret (46°36′38″), Carnic Alps, Austria

Val d'Aran

Aran (Occitan: [aˈɾan]; Catalan: [əˈɾan]; Spanish: [aˈɾan]) (previously officially called Val d'Aran) is an administrative entity in Catalonia, Spain, consisting of the Aran Valley, 620.47 square kilometres (239.56 sq mi) in area, in the Pyrenees mountains, in the northwestern part of the province of Lleida.

This valley constitutes one of only two areas of contiguous Spain (and the only contiguous part of current Catalonia) that are located on the northern side of the Pyrenees. Hence, this valley holds the only Catalan rivers to flow into the Atlantic Ocean (for the same reason, the region is characterized by an Atlantic climate, instead of a Mediterranean one). The Garonne river flows through Aran from its source on the Pla de Beret (Beret Flat) near the Port de la Bonaigua. It is joined by the Joèu river (from the slopes of Aneto mountain) which passes underground at the Forau de Aigualluts. It then reappears in the Val dera Artiga de Lin before reaching the Aran valley, then through France and eventually to the Atlantic Ocean. The Noguera Pallaresa river, whose source is only a hundred meters from that of the Garonne, flows the opposite way towards the Mediterranean.

Aran borders France on the north, the Spanish Autonomous Community of Aragon to the west and the Catalan comarques of Alta Ribagorça to the south and Pallars Sobirà to the east. The capital of the comarca is Vielha, with 5,474 inhabitants (2014). The entire population of the valley is about 9,991 (2014). As of 2001, a plurality of people in Aran spoke Spanish (38.78%) as their native language, followed by Aranese (34.19%), then Catalan (19.45%) with 7.56% having a different native language. Speakers of languages other than the local Aranese are typically people born outside the valley, or their children.

Vignemale

The Vignemale (Occitan: Vinhamala, Aragonese: Comachibosa, Catalan: Vinyamala), at 3,298 metres, is the highest of the French Pyrenean summits (the highest in the whole of the range is Pic d'Aneto). It lies on the border between the Department of Hautes-Pyrénées (Nauts Pirenèus / Hauts Pirenèus), in Occitanie and Gascony, France and Sobrarbe, in Huesca, Aragon, Spain, and the peak is split between the two countries.

The Vignemale is the name given to the mountain massif in French, which also straddles into Spain. It consists of several distinct summits, the predominant ones being Grand Vignemale or Pique-Longue (in French) / Pica Longa (in Occitan and Catalan) / Punda de Comabichosa (in Aragonese) (3298 m), Pointe Chausenque / Punta Chausenca (3,204 m) and Petit Vignemale / Petita Vinhamala (3,032 m). The Vignemale is also the site of the second largest of the Pyrenean glaciers (after the one on Aneto), the Ossoue / Osso (with around 0.6 km²), across which the "voie normale", or standard route to the summit travels.

One of its most dramatic aspects is the North Face upon which lie a number of serious ascent routes requiring skill and commitment. Below the North Face is the impressively situated mountain refuge - the Refuge des Oulettes de Gaube / Refugi d’eths Oletas de Gauba. The approach from the north entails a delightful walk up to and around the picturesque Lac de Gaube / Gauba giving increasingly dramatic views of the mountain.

Almost synonymous with the Vignemale is the name of Count Henry Russell, an eccentric of the Victorian era who developed a lifelong passion for the mountain.

The first documented, "official" ascension of this peak was by Lady Anne Lister and three local guides in 1838.

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