Search 57,387 Camino Questions

A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it


Advertisement
Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.
2021 Camino Guides
Most all Camino authors have decided to use 2020 guides for 2021, with free PDF files with updates coming in the spring. Get yours today.

Descent from Col de Lepoeder into Roncesvalles

Derek Hanrahan

Quo Vadis
Past OR future Camino
Stages in: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016;
Sept 2017
Hi,
I walked this route with my son on a very clear day in 2013. Since 2012 I've been doing a section every year with family and friends. Now I am within 90km of Santiago but I'm returning alone this year to start the Camino again in late August.
At the time we descended the last section from Col de Lepoeder down into Roncesvalles through the forest path. Even on this very clear day the "path" was anything but clear, a bit hit-and-miss in places. At the time I wondered how people found heir way in bad weather particularly mist, fog or just in dull light conditions. I find myself anxious about the descent as I prepare to set out and wonder if you can offer me some direction and/or your experiences regarding this.
Thank you. Derek
 
2021 Camino Guides
Most all Camino authors have decided to use 2020 guides for 2021, with free PDF files with updates coming in the spring. Get yours today.
Camino Maps
A collection of Camino Maps from the Camino Forum Store
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
The advice in bad or rainy weather is to NOT use the path. The safer alternative is the narrow roadway which runs from Col de Lepoeder down to Roncesvalles. This is also what the Pilgrim office in SJPdP would recommend, so it is important to check with them as they will have the latest report on conditions.

Here is the recent thread on that alternate route:
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...pperary-to-santiago-day-75.57000/#post-645507
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
I would agree with the advice about taking the safer route in poor weather, or if your knees are exhausted at that point

However, I wouldn't characterize this as a "dangerous" path that should cause anxiety during your preparation. Yes, your knees will be tired and vulnerable on that downhill slope. It could be hazardous if wet and covered with leaves, so 2 walking sticks are very important.

I am NOT a super-walker, and at 66 I walked from SJPP to Roncesvalles in one day, coming down to Roncesvalles from the forest route. My legs were wobbly by the end, and I recognized how easy it would have been to slip and twist a knee, but I did not consider it to be a dramatic or dangerous mission! :)
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
I think it will become fairly obvious once you reach that point. My recollection is that as you start to descend from Col de Lepoeder there is a signpost pointing to the right towards a road. This is the "safer" alternative, and the one that I took.
Definitely safer even in nice weather. And when you descend (on the path or cut through the pasture) to the chapel at Ibaneta Pass you can again choose between path through the forest (left) or stay on the tarmac road. Either way you'll come to the Roncesvalles.
 
Published on Amazon
Guide to the 16 main caminos with maps, pictures, hyperlinks and other information.
Create your own ad
€1,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.

chinacat

Veteran Member
Definitely safer even in nice weather. And when you descend (on the path or cut through the pasture) to the chapel at Ibaneta Pass you can again choose between path through the forest (left) or stay on the tarmac road. Either way you'll come to the Roncesvalles.

We chose the ‘mini’ forest path after the chapel ... I really liked the rocky bit :)
 

Terri B

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
1998 St Cuthberts Way, 1999 West Highland Way, 2016 & 2019 SJPDP to Santiago, 2020 Porto to Santiago
@davebugg, Use sticks for extra stability. I only use one, but it helped immensely.
 

GraemeHall

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Francés 2017/18; Portugués 2019
Last August 2017, at age 69, I also walked from St Jean to Roncesvalles on my first day (after coming by train in the early morning from Biarritz and Bayonne) and took the steep forest path. I did not use poles.
While I saw a couple of people have falls, I didn't find it either alarming or dangerous. Granted, the day was fine. I wouldn't take that lath in slippery, wet conditions.
I do think some who found difficulty had packs that were way too heavy - not uncommon on the first days.
 

Monasp

I'm a manager of pilgrims office in SJPP
Past OR future Camino
Camino in 2008.
Hi,
I walked this route with my son on a very clear day in 2013. Since 2012 I've been doing a section every year with family and friends. Now I am within 90km of Santiago but I'm returning alone this year to start the Camino again in late August.
At the time we descended the last section from Col de Lepoeder down into Roncesvalles through the forest path. Even on this very clear day the "path" was anything but clear, a bit hit-and-miss in places. At the time I wondered how people found heir way in bad weather particularly mist, fog or just in dull light conditions. I find myself anxious about the descent as I prepare to set out and wonder if you can offer me some direction and/or your experiences regarding this.
Thank you. Derek
You have to go on the Wright by the GR 12 untill the pass of Ibañeta and after you have to follow the way that is coming from Valcarlos till Roncesvalles
 

jmcarp

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
My wife and I took the forest path. The weather was clear that day, and because we're accustomed to hiking up and down steep slopes here in Colorado, we didn't see it as being that difficult. IMO, the biggest danger was the many exposed roots on and across the trail which required careful attention to placement of our feet -- they can definitely be a tripping hazard. Trekking poles helped, and we saw a few pilgrims without poles who had picked up natural sticks or short limbs to have a third point of balance. But since the trail is natural dirt, it could be muddy and slippery in rain, so the alternate path down the road would be my choice in those conditions.
 
When you walk the Camino, and suddenly a pandemic appears
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2015, 2017, 2019) and plans for 2021 (Sept, Oct)
We hiked the Napoleon route during our first camino in 2015. We found the forest route to be wicked. The ground was soft and there were lots of leaves and other trail clutter which could easily trip a hiker. My wife and I both had trekking poles to provide some safety. While neither of us lost our balance, we both sustained injuries. My wife developed blisters, which progressed to severe knee pain. Upon return to the US, we learned she had developed two stress fractures. I got off easily, a few blisters and one black toe. Our last two caminos, we've hiked the Valcarlos route. We begin our 4th camino frances Sept 17. We are hiking the Napoleon route again, but will definitely take the road route down into Roncesvalles and avoid the forest. Bob
 

ranthr

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
Gr65 from le Puy to Figeac 2013
Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
I have walked the forest path once in bad weather by mistake, and the road down to the chapel twice. From the Ibaneta Chapel there is a nice forest path down to Roncesvalles, so you don´t have to walk on road all the way. Along the path there were plants and signs with name of the plants. My last walk down there was in 2010, so things may differ but this alternative was much better than the steep and dark forestpath.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
During 10 past caminos usually in late autumn /winter it was always a long hard slog up the Valcarlos route.

Leaving Valcarlos as dawn broke at 8am it would take 5 hours to slowly climb up to the Ibaneta pass, altitude 1060 m. This once was THE medieval route through the Pyrenees with a very early pilgrim hospice at the pass; today the small modern chapel marks the spot.

As past pilgrim multitudes have done I, too, joyfully shouted my thanks when cresting the pass and then weeping in exhausted relief slowly 'floated' down via the N135 road into the historic Roncesvalles monastery complex which has sheltered pilgrims since the eleventh century.
 

JohnMcM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Some, and with luck, some more.
Browncountybob, ranthr, mspath,

In your rush to help have you lost sight that the thread you are answering is 3 years old? 😂
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2015, 2017, 2019) and plans for 2021 (Sept, Oct)
John, sharing our experiences can still be helpful. I was going to start a new thread on this same topic, but decided to search in case it had been raised before.

There's no time limit on providing good advice. First time pilgrims should be aware that there are alternatives for hiking down to Roncesvalles and each has pros and cons. Bob
 
Original artwork based on your pilgrimage or other travel photos.
A Quest of St. James, Tommy Ray, Book Cover, Image
Come follow the vivid imagery of this life-changing adventure.

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
John, sharing our experiences can still be helpful. I was going to start a new thread on this same topic, but decided to search in case it had been raised before.

There's no time limit on providing good advice. First time pilgrims should be aware that there are alternatives for hiking down to Roncesvalles and each has pros and cons. Bob
Part of the newcomer double bind: start a new thread and someone will reply with “check old threads it’s been discussed before here and here and here and here and here.” Reply to an old one and it’s inevitably pointed out how old the thread. 🙂

somethings never change
 

Did not find what you were looking for? Search here

Popular Resources

“All” Albergues on the Camino Frances in one pdf ivar
  • Featured
“All” Albergues on the Camino Frances in one pdf
4.95 star(s) 101 ratings
Downloads
15,186
Updated
A selection of favorite albergues on the Camino Francés Ton van Tilburg
Favorite Albergues along the Camino Frances
4.83 star(s) 35 ratings
Downloads
7,868
Updated
Profile maps of all 34 stages of the Camino Frances ivar
Profile maps of all 34 stages of the Camino Frances
4.88 star(s) 24 ratings
Downloads
7,671
Updated
Top