Andorra is a beautiful mountainous ministate between Spain and France and the Pyrenees belong to my favorite mountain ranges in Europe. In summer you can plan there wonderful hikes and in winter you can visit amazing local ski resorts or do some ski touring to peaks of Pyrenees. In this article, you will find all the practical information you need to climb the highest peak of the country Coma Pedrosa, a map and you can also read about my personal experience of ski touring to the top.
Important information for climbing Coma Pedrosa
Short description of the ascent: Hike with little scrambling at the final ridge Essential equipment: General hiking gear Best time to visit: May - October Fees or restrictions: No Camping allowed: No Nearest accommodation/food supply: Comapedrosa hut Height of the peak: 2945 m Distance to the top: 6,9 km (one way) Time to ascend to Coma Pedrosa: 4-6 hours up, 2-4 hours back Elevation climbed: 1385 m Water availability on the mountain: Yes until the crossroads at the final ridge Difficulty level: *** (6 stars maximum) Personal rating of the mountain: **** (6 stars maximum) Beer on the peak: Boris Craft Beer Andorra Golden Ale **** (6 stars maximum)
Description of the best route to Coma Pedrosa
The most common route to the peak starts at the parking lot at the end of the road in the village Arinsal. You will follow a well-marked GR 11 trail that actually leads via the whole Pyrenees mountain range. The first part of the hike is relatively gentle, allowing you to warm up and enjoy the scenery. After 3,5 km at an elevation of 2223 m you have a chance to take a break and turn left to refuge de Comapedrosa. Check out the opening times here. There is also a nice lake called Estany de les Truites (Trout Lake) nearby.
From Estany de les Truites, the trail becomes a bit steeper but still goes via a nice marked trail. The views will become increasingly impressive as you gain elevation. After an additional 2,4 km you will reach Estany Negre (Black Lake). This is another good place for a break and to replenish your energy.
After passing Estany Negre, there will be a crossroads at an elevation of 2750 m. The GR 11 trail continues left and the trail to Coma Pedrosa turns to the right. The last part is in rocky terrain on the mountain ridge so be cautious. When you reach the summit, the panoramic views of the surrounding Pyrenees mountains and valleys will be your reward.
Map of the climb to Coma Pedrosa
My story of climbing Coma Pedrosa in winter conditions with personal tips
I climbed Coma Pedrosa as a part of my project European Peaks during which I climbed the highest peak of every European country. Before Coma Pedrosa I reached the Norwegian highest peak on alpine touring skis and it was exciting so I decided for a similar summit in Andorra too. Follow our experience where I was accompanied by two friends, Honza and Blažej.
Shopping in Andorra
The nearest airport to Andorra is in Barcelona so we flew there. We picked up a rental car and drove towards Andorra where we arrived late at night. Before climbing Coma Pedrosa we needed to rent our skis. Our goal was to rent them in the capitol Andorra la Vela. At an altitude of 1023 m it is the highest situated capital of Europe. We realized soon that this city is a shopping paradise. Thanks to the low VAT (4.5%) everything is cheap there, especially alcohol and outdoor equipment. I bought several Christmas gifts in advance. It was so cheap!
Regarding the ski rental we were advised to get our equipment in another city – La Massana. There we found a small rental shop which was the perfect choice. We borrowed the newest ski touring equipment for only 22 euros. We packed all our climbing equipment and went to sleep early. Now everything is ready for tomorrow’s climb.
Time to climb Coma Pedrosa
The alarm rang at 6 a.m. After we managed to get out of bed we drove to the end of village Arinsal and parked our car behind a tunnel where the climb starts. We took a small breakfast – a great chorizo with some pastries which we had bought in a duty free shop the day before – and we were ready to go.
This time the weather was perfect unlike in Norway. Sunny, no wind and – 3° C. Let’s go. At the beginning of our climb, we had to tie our skis to backpacks because the snow has already melted at the low altitude. In the end we walked ca 1.5 km. Honza had a light backpack (32 liters) which is ideal for such a trip. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn from the Norwegian trip and I carried my photo equipment again. But this time I didn’t carry the heaviest burden. Blažej had a bigger problem because he is a snowboarder. Since he didn’t find any splitboard he had to carry his snowboard on his back plus an extra pair of hiking shoes for the whole journey.
When we reached a small river we finally crossed the snow line. Here the adventure began. We climbed up slowly with our skis on and soon reached the Comapedrosa hut which is closed in winter. At this point the sun showed up behind the horizon. What a beautiful day. I suddenly felt so warm that I decided to take off my pants and put on my shorts instead.
Modern back country skis are amazing
This time I really enjoyed the summit. It was so easy to climb up with these modern alpine touring skis. It was a big difference compared to the old backcountry equipment which I used in Norway. Only our snowboarder suffered. He had to keep going up on foot.
We passed a beautiful valley and we reached a lake below the summit after one hour from the Comapedrosa hut. It looked like a perfect camping spot but camping is unfortunately not allowed anywhere in the whole Andorra. We continued on skis until we reached a ridge. There the snow ended. We had to climb the last 150 meters of altitude on foot. It was still warm and there was no wind so I reached the peak in my shorts. Amazing March weather.
We took a break and ate some lunch while checking the beautiful views around us. The Pyrenees are very picturesque mountains, certainly nicer than Sierra Nevada in the south of Spain.
Enjoying the sun can hurt
The beginning of the downhill was perfect. No rush, only joy. We were back at the Comapedrosa hut in just fifteen minutes. Then the “fun” started. Slalom between trees on a steep slope on icy snow turned out to be the most unpleasant downhill of my life. Even Blažej with a board on his back was faster during the descent than Honza and I on skis. I am glad we managed without any injury and after 90 minutes we were back at our car.
When we got back to our hotel I started to feel my calves. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the muscles but the skin. I got sunburned again. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to ski in shorts? I regretted my decision the whole night. The calves were in so much pain that I couldn’t fall asleep. I managed as late as after taking two painkillers.
My tips for climbing the mountain Coma Pedrosa:
- If you are going to Coma Pedrosa in summer, spend the night at the hut with the same name and enjoy the night in the beautiful Pyrenees.
- If you want to get to Coma Pedrosa in winter, beware of avalanches. Check out the current avalanche risk with local authorities. I highly recommend to summit the mountain on skis.
- Andorra also offers excellent conditions for downhill skiing. If you visit the country in winter, definitely go skiing there. We spent one day skiing in the largest ski resort in Andorra called Grandvalira and it was amazing.