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Is there still snow in the Pyrenees in the begining of May?

camster

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2019
#1
I was planning on a summer Camino, but it might be a spring-summer one instead.
Is there still snow (usually) in the begining of May on the Napoleon route in the Pyrenees?
 

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camster

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2019
#3
Yes. Sometimes no. Are you asking for predictions, forecasts, history or guesses?

The Route Napoleon is usually open and passable by late April - early May but may not be. Ask at the Pilgrims Office on your day of departure. Any other 'opinion' is worthless.
Thank you. I was asking for past experiences amongst people who had passed through there in the begining of May. Seeing how many people would say that yes there was snow or no there wasn't.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
#4
I'm pretty sure this was April 21012, not long after May :eek::p

Other years it's been dry.

But even in the snow, it can be lovely if you listen to the locals and walk the correct route.
 

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Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
#5
So, you were after history - available here http://www.aemet.es/es/serviciosclimaticos/datosclimatologicos. I've no doubt that members will post experience of sunshine, blizzard, rain and fog. Personal experience of one day, one morning, on the hill while of interest should not be used to inform your decisions about whether or not to take the route. Ask at the Pilgrims Office on the morning or eve of your departure.

My experience has been all of the above plus watching Griffon Vultures spiralling in a crystal blue sky above a crystal white landscape while my exhaled breath turned to snow and I nearly lost my sight in the snow-glare. Pure stupidity, I should never have been there so ill-prepared. And that was on the 8th of May.
 

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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#6
As Tinker says, past experiences are useless as a guide. Mountain weather is notoriously unpredictable in spring.

Just to illustrate, I have crossed via the Route Napoleon (or attempted) three times in early May and conditions were different each time. Once was freezing with fog and cold rain, but doable. Once was sunny and gloriously clear, but with a cold wind (pretty well ideal IMO). A third time I had intended to cross but decided against it at the last moment, because of heavy snow, so I started from Roncesvalles instead.

Decide when you get to SJPDP and if the Pilgrims Office advise against, you can take the equally beautiful but safer Valcarlos route.
 

camster

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2019
#8
So, you were after history - available here http://www.aemet.es/es/serviciosclimaticos/datosclimatologicos. I've no doubt that members will post experience of sunshine, blizzard, rain and fog. Personal experience of one day, one morning, on the hill while of interest should not be used to inform your decisions about whether or not to take the route. Ask at the Pilgrims Office on the morning or eve of your departure.

My experience has been all of the above plus watching Griffon Vultures spiralling in a crystal blue sky above a crystal white landscape while my exhaled breath turned to snow and I nearly lost my sight in the snow-glare. Pure stupidity, I should never have been there so ill-prepared. And that was on the 8th of May.
Thank you for the link. I much less appreciate the image you've left me with though ;)
 

camster

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2019
#9
As Tinker says, past experiences are useless as a guide. Mountain weather is notoriously unpredictable in spring.

Just to illustrate, I have crossed via the Route Napoleon (or attempted) three times in early May and conditions were different each time. Once was freezing with fog and cold rain, but doable. Once was sunny and gloriously clear, but with a cold wind (pretty well ideal IMO). A third time I had intended to cross but decided against it at the last moment, because of heavy snow, so I started from Roncesvalles instead.

Decide when you get to SJPDP and if the Pilgrims Office advise against, you can take the equally beautiful but safer Valcarlos route.
Oh, I guess May is still too unpredictable. Thank you for your input. I will have to figure something out, or just quit my job and walk in the summer ;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#10
Oh, I guess May is still too unpredictable. Thank you for your input. I will have to figure something out, or just quit my job and walk in the summer ;)
Why? Start in SJPP and walk either the Valcarlos route or the Napoleon route, depending on the actual conditions!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
#11
That May was a freak storm - don't be afraid.
Just go!
Lots of people even take winter Caminos and prefer it.
Or start in Pamplona - which is a great option.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#12
@camster: thanks for asking this question. I had it in mind to pose a similar one as I have a departure date from St Jean as the 3rd or 4th of May (2017) and starting to look at accommodation availability in St Jean during the May Day period & for the first couple of nights on the Camino.
Totally agree with Kanga and others about the unpredictability of the weather! - it has no memory of what it did yesterday, let alone last year!! Cheers:)o_O
 

traveler

Walking is the answer
Camino(s) past & future
CF May-Jun '15
CF Dec '15
CF May-Jun ‘16
CF Dec ‘16
#14
Oh, I guess May is still too unpredictable. Thank you for your input. I will have to figure something out, or just quit my job and walk in the summer ;)
We have walked the Napolean twice in very early May. Both times were beautiful. Storms happen at any time (including July -- not snow but storms) but walking in early May is a good bet and worth taking, just have a backup plan.

We have done a lot of walking and a lot of remote mountaineering. Changing weather and changing plans is just part of the adventure.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#15
Oh, I guess May is still too unpredictable. Thank you for your input. I will have to figure something out, or just quit my job and walk in the summer ;)
If you want to walk the 'Napoleon route' for the views and the scenery, bear in mind that even in Summer (a good Summer at that!) you may see NOTHING. That was on the 14th July this year.
 

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kayagee66

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2016)
Le Puy - Roncesvalles (2016)
Figeac - Cahors (2017)
Stevenson Trail (2018
#16
30th April this year. Snowed quite hard. Windy. I loved it. I'm not a bad weather walking fan, but lots of people of all ages and sexes did it that day. It was one of my favourite days of a walk that took me to Finisterre. The day before was glorious sunshine and great views, but I wouldn't swap. If there was snow when you did it you would have a great memory and a good story to tell.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - April-June, 2016
Portuguese Lisbon-Santiago - October, 2017
#17
We crossed on the Napoleon April 26 and 27th of this year - cold, foggy, windy, a little snow on the sides on the road. The week afterwards we heard there was a snow storm and the route was closed. Just play it by ear.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Spring 2016: Camino Frances, Finisterre and Muxia
#18
I did the Napoleon route beginning April 22 of this year. It was fine for us, foggy in places, but very scenic and beautiful. It was chilly, but I was prepared for that.

There was a storm the previous week that closed the Napoleon route, and more snow a few days after us. I would not hesitate to plan this again, and would be fine if the Valcarlos route was the one I needed to take given weather conditions.

Buen Camino,
Priscilla
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
#19
We crossed on the Napoleon April 26 and 27th of this year - cold, foggy, windy, a little snow on the sides on the road.
To me, ideal conditions for a pleasant, nice walk. I'd just add a bit of muddy paths, and it would be perfect. I rather like this kind of weather and conditions.
But, as it happens frequently, too much of a good thing could become a problem.
 

Patch

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Leon to Santiago (June 2014)
St Jean to Leon (Sept 2015)
Burgos to Santiago (June 2016)
Porto to Finisterre (June 2017)
#20
The quick answer is yes. I have walked on and off in the Pyrenees since 1995, mainly in June. The weather every year has been totally different. My worst snow condition was 1997 (I think) when their was a complete white out which closed all the roads and led to many walkers being airlifted to safety. We carried a small tent and were totally self sufficient so no problem but......
 
Camino(s) past & future
"2011" Portuguese "2012/13/16"Frances X 2 + Finistere" 2015" Porto -SDC "2017"Primitivo
#21
I was planning on a summer Camino, but it might be a spring-summer one instead.
Is there still snow (usually) in the begining of May on the Napoleon route in the Pyrenees?
I walked the Napoleon on 1st June 2013 when it snowed heavily on already packed snow on trek from St Jean and next morning in Roncesvalles. It then changed to mist and rain -good for slipping/sliding- for 5/6 days when the sun took over. Weather is not always predictable!! The last few weeks this Sept were ideal for walking though. Predictions beware, come prepared. Buen Camino.
 

camster

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2019
#22
Thank you for sharing your adventures. I love reading them. The main reason for my asking is that I was hoping to stop at Orisson, but if the route is closed, then it's not going to happen. Plus I was hoping for a summer camino because I wanted to have simple gear with me and I tend to be cold easily, but with work, I might have to change my plans to start in May.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#23
I walked the Napoleon on 1st June 2013 when it snowed heavily on already packed snow on trek from St Jean and next morning in Roncesvalles. It then changed to mist and rain -good for slipping/sliding- for 5/6 days when the sun took over. Weather is not always predictable!! The last few weeks this Sept were ideal for walking though. Predictions beware, come prepared. Buen Camino.
I recall this Spring/early Summer period. I was in the south (on the VDLP) and it was "bloody" cold - I think it even snowed/sleeted in Madrid with the opening of the bull-fighting season. If I recall correctly it was the coldest Spring in Spain for 40 years. Just reinforces the concept of unpredictability of the weather. Its times like this when the advice from the people in the Pilgrim Office in St Jean is most important.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
#24
The weather is just so unpredictable. There was a time on an early Camino that it got REALLY hot so I dumped my fleece jacket. Two days later it was snowing. I've never done THAT again!
 

zrexer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15 & 16 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo (Sept.)
#25
Was closed on April 8th when we started this year and I gather it was for 10 days beyond that.
For people that are from snow free climates, I would follow the directions given by the local authorities.
I am from Canada and winter hike, so snow is not really an issue, but packing snow shoes for the Camino would be problematic and obviously not needed after day 1!
We had heavy snow on the last couple hours of the Val Carlos route into Roncesvalles as well on this so called low route, so you need to be prepared. The picture attached is when we crossed the highway leading into the last part of the trail into Roncesvalles.
 

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camster

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2019
#26
Was closed on April 8th when we started this year and I gather it was for 10 days beyond that.
For people that are from snow free climates, I would follow the directions given by the local authorities.
I am from Canada and winter hike, so snow is not really an issue, but packing snow shoes for the Camino would be problematic and obviously not needed after day 1!
We had heavy snow on the last couple hours of the Val Carlos route into Roncesvalles as well on this so called low route, so you need to be prepared. The picture attached is when we crossed the highway leading into the last part of the trail into Roncesvalles.
I'm from Quebec, so snow is no issue for me either. As you said, it's mostly because of the different packing you need to do, for just a few days, maybe only one day. That picture is not something I would have liked to walk into, especially on the side of a road like that.
 

Annie25a

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
#27
We crossed on the Napoleon April 26 and 27th of this year - cold, foggy, windy, a little snow on the sides on the road. The week afterwards we heard there was a snow storm and the route was closed. Just play it by ear.
This is the WEEK I'm hoping to Start
So after reading the comments around this topic
I'm thinking best to pack a few thermals in my mix
 

zrexer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15 & 16 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo (Sept.)
#28
This is the WEEK I'm hoping to Start
So after reading the comments around this topic
I'm thinking best to pack a few thermals in my mix
Annie, I would not bother with the thermals. Even with the possibility of snow it would not be that cold in late April. Maybe 5C at the summitt, if even that and likely a lot warmer.
This will just be something to take up space in your back pack that you will likely not need.
 

zrexer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15 & 16 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo (Sept.)
#30
I some times forget when discussing cold as it is relative to where people live. I have a good friend in Melbourne, Australia and he can not fathom -40 C weather that we get on occasion in Northern Alberta, the same as I can not fathom +40 C or above that he gets on occasion.
I tend to have zip off parts of my pants off when the temp is +8 or above.
Generally, you need to keep head, hands and feet warm and I find the rest of me stays pretty warm when walking.
 

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