If you are considering walking a winter Camino or beginning as early as April in SJPP, you may want to read this post and reconsider. These are photos from April 2012.
I'm not say do not walk a winter Camino. Many love walking in the winter. And, of course, every year doesn't have this much snow. However, you should pay very close attention to the weather reports, and you ALWAYS LISTEN TO THE LOCALS if they tell you the route is not safe.
If the route is closed and you are advised to walk the Valcarlos road,
you should LISTEN AND DO IT.
That does not mean there will be no snow.
It is just a bit safer.
PLEASE register your walk with the Pilgrim Office
in SJPP so someone knows to expect you in Roncesvalles!
Go prepared with the correct gear.
Take food and water and shelter in case you get stuck.
Be sure your phone is well charged.
There has been another rescue in the Pyrenees. Thanks be to God, this woman survived her experience. This article appeared in this morning's print edition of the Diario de Navarra newspaper. The translation and emphases are mine:
Firefighters from Burguete rescued another pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago yesterday. (4 April). The pilgrim was a middle-aged American (U.S.) woman who had turned her ankle. It took firefighters two hours to transport the woman three kilometers along paths completely covered in snow. The woman and her son were walking the Camino, following the Route Napoleon over the mountain from St. Jean Pied-de-Port to Roncesvalles; the Route Napoleon is snowed under at present.
Along the way, she sprained her ankle, and when she reached the shelter at Izandorre, radioed SOS Navarra for help. SOS Navarra, in turn, alerted the fire department in Burguete. This occurred at 4.30 in the afternoon. The firefighters reached the woman's location in 30 minutes, but transporting her to the paved highway, where they had left their vehicle, was quite a bit more complicated: by stretcher and at times walking with the support of the firefighters, it took the group two hours to cover the three kilometers distance.
* * * * *
The Route Napoleon is still covered in snow. It is still too risky to go that way. Yes, she twisted her ankle. Yes, some can justify this as an accident that could happen to anyone, even in summer too, etc. But folks, please... her rescue was complicated by the snow. Thank God she was able to get to the shelter, and thank God they got her off the mountain. but the weather here in Navarra has been cold and nasty for the past two days. More like January than April, and more snow is predicted for this weekend.
Go the Valcarlos route, wear reflective vests and stay on the pavement.
Here are a few more photos to give you an idea of just how much snow we're talking about. Most of these photos are by "javier" from the Camino Forum. These are all taken at Roncesvalles, where there are snow plows. THERE ARE NO SNOWPLOWS ON THE TRAIL!!
|This is a cloister that is much higher than your head!|
|You cannot even see the doors or the signs above them!|
|This is why people can get lost.|
|This is a ROOF top of a 3 story building!|
She and her two young daughters took the road, stayed in Valcarlos, and continued on the next day. Be sure to look at days 2 and 3 for good photos of the difference in walking conditions that these taken in Roncesvalles.
Here is a link to their great blog!
GIRLS ON THE WAY