La Pica d'estats

From Vall Ferrera mountain hut to pica d'Estats

The hotel Vall Ferrera is an ideal place to prepare yourself, have a rest and relax before climbing the Pica d’Estats.

In our hotel, guests can made preparations of maps in our library and reading room together with "a la carte" weather forecasts, itinerary's tips and practical advice.

The Pica d'Estats

La Pica d’Estats is the highest summit of Catalonia and raises 3143 m on the level of the sea. This mountain is located on the Spanish border and French border (Catalonia, France and Andorra). It gives a special interest for any hiker.

Download the GPS route of the Pica d'Estats

Schedule

0.00 Vall Ferrera mountain hut, 1,940 m. The road leaves from beside the hut and zigzags rapidly up to the north-east.

0.15 We pass a small patch of scree (rocks) with birch trees.

0.25 We come to a crossroads at 2,080 m. We pass the path on the right which leads into the Areste valley and keep on along the one on the left.

0.30 Collet, 2,140 m, 0.80 km. A picturesque spot where the steep initial climb begins, continuing to the west and gradually levelling off, in spite of the ups and down of the path. Shortly before crossing Sotllo stream, we come to a stretch which must be negotiated with great caution. That is why a path has been made that goes around the bottom of this area.

1.05 Sotllo ravine (2120 m). We cross by a footbridge and continue to climb on the far side.

1.10 Pla de la Socauba, 2,140 m, 2.20 km. To the left of the path is the cave of the same name, which provides a useful shelter.

1.20 Pla de Canalbona or Pletiu de Sotllo, 2,190 m. The valley broadens out and is dotted with marshes. At the end of the plateau we can see a fine waterfall which comes down from the Sotllo and Estats lakes. Near the river is an outcrop of rock with good stretches of turf, ideal for camping. Fons lake ravine descends on the other side. The itinerary continues to climb up the valley. Care should be taken here, since there are two options. The most well-trodden path at the beginning runs relatively low down and then climbs to where the waters flow into Sotllo lake. But in fact the more sensible route is the path which climbs more steeply up the base of Pic de Llats and Pic de Lari as far as a small pass and then enters the Sotllo lake area, about halfway along the shore of the lake. 2.10 Estany de Sotllo, 2,350 m. Where the waters flow into the lake, there is a large camping ground. Fine view of Pic de Norís and Pic de Monteixo with the lake in the foreground. On the left the stream flows down from the small Sotllo corrie. We follow the path, which soon crosses to the left bank of the stream, and then return to the right bank where the waters flow into Estats lake. To the right Via Gabarró strikes off for La Conca Gelada.

2.40 Estany d'Estats, 2,471 m. There are fine spots for camping on the right shore where the waters flow out. From here, with the light of midday, we can take a magnificent photograph of the peak reflected in the waters of the lake. The path skirts the lake and climbs up to some shelves above. Here we find other places to camp. A radio transmitter has been installed on top of a rock for emergencies. Immediately afterwards we begin the tiring climb up the long scree which leads to Port de Sotllo. Before there was always a snowfield here, but now, in summer, we can skirt it without difficulty.

3.40 Port de Sotllo, 2,894 m. A border crossing east of Pic de Sotllo and west of Pica d'Estats. From the pass we descend to the north via Estats coomb on the Occitan side where, at the beginning of summer, the snow lies thick on the ground and in the early hours of the morning is always frozen hard. In the distance we see the small lake called Estany de La Cometa d'Estats or de Barz (2,740 m). To avoid losing height, many walkers begin to skirt it sooner, which means that they have to cross steeply inclined snowfields. It is better to descend to about 50 metres from Barz tarn. This small lake is surrounded by rock, so we turn eastwards, to the right, to go around it in the shade about 10 metres above the water level (2750 m). Once at the edge of the lake, go south-east, climbing straight up between snow and scree up to Riufred pass (2790 m) and follow the north-eastern slope of Pica d'Estats on the Occitan side. To the left of Riufred pass we can see Pic de Montcalm or La Plana (3077 m), as the Occitans call it.

4.40 Coll de Riufred, 2,990 m, 7.60 km. The scene is dominated by the impressive, wild Riufred valley. From here the slope up to the summit is gentler.

5.10 Pica d'Estats, 3,143 m, 8.50 km. Summit with a sweeping view of the Catalan, Occitan and Andorran mountains, up to Monte Perdido and Neuvielha.

Practical information

For this walk, you need mountain boots and a rucksack with warm clothing and rain gear. If there is snow, you will also need crampons and an ice axe. You should not embark on this walk without having taken these precautions or without an expert guide. You should inform the wardens at the mountain refuge of the route you intend to take. High mountains are a particularly delicate ecosystem: do not leave any trace of your presence. Take all your rubbish down to the valleys and dispose of it in the bins there.

Interest Publications

  • Pica d'Estats-Mont-roig 1:25.000
  • Editorial Alpina
  • Editorial: Editorial Alpina
  • Mapa comarcal de Catalunya 1:50.000. Pallars Sobirà
  • Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya
  • Editorial: Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya

Oficina Comarcal de Turisme del Pallars Sobirà