Do mountains know no ceiling? – Hiking in Picos de Europa National Park

Make the Peaks of Europe yours to conquer and to remember!

 

Today women are increasingly climbing to the top of the world’s highest summits, shredding down mountains with skis or sailing across challenging seas. Such endeavors were not long ago discouraged from women, but in modern times females have clearly risen in challenging past-timer masculine barriers.

With women increasingly breaking the alpine ceiling, I was inspired to take on a summer summit challenge in the Picos de Europa National Park, in the North of Spain.

 

Girl hiking Picos de Europa

 

 

Picos de Europa National Park

Spain may not have the status of Canada or Switzerland for mountains, but with the impressive name Picos De Europa – The Peaks of Europe, it is Spain’s or maybe even in all of Europe’s most underrated, below the radar, mountainous/alpine region.

 

“When you go there you can’t help but scratch my head and wonder why isn’t this place more famous on a global scale?”

 

 

It speaks endless opportunities for adventure…

The Picos de Europa National Park is the largest hiking area situated between Asturias, Cantabria and Castilla y Leon. Covering an impressive 64,660 hectares, known as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It is characterised by deep vertical gorges, sprawling forests, snowfields, peaks over 8,000 feat, and glacial lakes.

 

The Picos de Europa National Park

 

We started our summit climb by taking the cable car from Fuente De base to Mirador de el Cable trail, before veering onto the Horcados Rojos trail. Although we didn’t make it to the

Pico Tesorero peak, this trail offers cascading rocks, picturesque mountain views whilst offering a special opportunity for a glacial lake dip to cool off. If you truly want to immerse yourself in the mountain spirits of Spain, I recommend returning to Fuente De base via Puertos De Alivia trail. This 4hrs trail highlights all of Picos De Europa’s diverse terrain in one hike down, embodying rocky- mountains, green rolling hills, glacial lakes, alpine rivers, and picturesque sunrise views. Not even the infamous Italian Dolomites could compete with the captivating rich alpine landscape as this trail gem.

Puertos De Alvia 

    • Difficulty: Medium
    • Distance: 10.4km
    • Duration: 4hrs

 Puertos De Alvia trail

 

HOT TOP: Download the Wikiloc app for full coverage of offline maps & track your trail so you never get lost.

 

Picos De Europa is a perfect haven for all levels of climbing, I realised you don’t have to be a hard-core outdoors to get a real hiker’s experience from what was on offer! I know I wasn’t and with only 10% of women attempting high altitude peaks, this seemed like the perfect place to start.
 

After all, a mountain challenge doesn’t have to mean climbing Mt. Everest. What’s important is that it’s meaningful to you, whether it be to push yourself mentally, experience something new, or find empowerment, Picos De Europa will fulfill just that or even more.

 

Hiking in Spain

 

In saying this, if you’re really adventurous you could get lost, and reside in a man-made cave.

 

During our first day hike, we decided to stay overnight in a cave as the light had fallen short on us without realising. One piece of advice I can stress is bringing thermals and a warm sleeping bag because temperatures drop rapidly to minus 20 degrees celsius at nightfall due to the high altitude and snowy capped mountains.

 

Snow Spain

 

Having said this, at that point, I truly did feel like I was at Mt. Everest base camp.

Although the incredible views from the cave with cascading rocks made it look like planet mars was at our very doorstep. I had begun to shake rapidly and uncontrollably. Hyperthermia was on the rise and with a 6 hour hike down to safety, there wasn’t much option for us but to stay put. Luckily, I chose my climbing partner wisely – who surprisingly had an emergency blanket on hand….I was truly in luck!

 

“For the first time in my life, I was scared to fall asleep. Why? Because I was afraid I may not wake up again.”

 

But despite the fatigue, exhaustion and adrenaline pumping through my body I miraculously made it through the night, waking up bright and early to make a slow descent down. At the peak of the sunrise, this was truly the best time to capture Picos De Europa in its finest element. The burnt orange and yellow hues resembling much like The Lion King safari, emphasized the draw dropping rocky-mountains and glistening glacial lakes.

 

Hikes in Spain

 

There is no wonder the saying goes that mountains know no border, no limit, no gender it is a place that encourages gender-neutrality and challenges one’s limit higher up in altitude.

So, if you’re up for the challenge in the Picos de Europa National Park, I would highly recommend traveling by cable car to some of the higher peaks – Fuente Dé in particular, with the highest peak to reach more than 8,000 meters into the clouds.

 

Otherwise, there are other breathtaking trails such as:

  • The Cares Route, Covadongo Lake, Ordiales
  • Scenic Balcony Trail
  • Vega de Ario Plain
  • Ruta de Fuente De a Puertos de Aliva
  • Ruta de Torre de Horcafos Rojo

 

Glacial lakes

 

Either way, with more than 646.6 square miles to discover by foot this is the perfect place to start, it is both scenic and challenging so put on your hiking shoes on and head to the Peaks of Europe – Picos De Europa!

 

After all, the mountains are increasingly breaking the gender glass ceiling. So, why not set the new benchmark for women higher up in altitude – who knows it might just inspire you to take life further or climb Mt. Everest.

Make the Peaks of Europe yours to conquer and to remember!

 

Written by contributing author Marika Suzuki, more on her blog thehonestexplorer.com For more travel stories, make sure you explore all the adventures in the Still Stoked travel section.

 

I'm an alpine ski and mountain climber enthusiast with a true global spirit. I recently hit 23 countries at 23yrs old and counting! Having lived in several countries combined with a biracial (Japanese & German) background my love for exploration, culture and adventure only continue to grow. With a passion for story-telling, environmentalism and female empowerment I hope to inspire women to take on new challenges whilst promoting global unity. More can be found on my site here: https://www.thehonestexplorer.com

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