Jou Santu pass, Picos, NW Spain, 2100 m altitude, temperature 1 degree Celsius, storm conditions, July 8th, 2004. See Google Panoramio for location.
Jou Santu, a large sink hole 2 km across in the karst limestone rocks in the Picos de Europa.
Photo to the West taken at the main pass of 2000 m, going up from Cain in the Cares Gorge. Temperature is only 1 degree Celsius, storm conditions with intermittent hail and rain. This is the cold NW region of Spain, even in the summer.
We reached the 2100 m pass after a 5.5 hours steady climb and we were welcomed by a fierce Western wind gushing through the peaks and as a bonus intermittent snow, hail and rain. We would need another four hours to go to Refugio Vegarredonda through the rocky high country with plenty of snow fields.
For the next two hours we crossed several snow fields and were getting very wet boots. The storm kept on hitting us and the visibility was poor.
Finally at the end of the small fourth and smallest sink hole, the trail suddenly widened to the size of an ATV track and we heard cow bells in the mist. The path was so well-built that it must be the espadrilles (tourist) path for Spanish day-trippers and picnickers from the refugio we were going to. Within minutes we were below the clouds at 1900 m being watched by several cows and looking down to Lago Enol in the far distance in bright sunshine. Now we could see the route clearly between the peaks and sink holes.
It would be another 2 hours down to the refugio, along a foot and back breaking rocky path 500 m down. The storm was just a big cloud and we were now below it.
See: "Escape from the Cares Gorge".
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