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march 3 Past Pilgrims advice on weather,Napoleon route ,Valcarlos route

jamesw3435

Member
Past OR future Camino
March 2015 Ssint jean to Santiago
I start my Camino from saint jean pied de port on march 3rd,

The Napoleon Route - Orrison is not open until April and weather might be a issue on that route and it could be advised it is not safe to travel so I will check with the pilgrims office and locals once I arrive in saint jean.


The Valcarlos Route - I decided I would travel from Saint jean on the Valcarlos route to Roncesvalles the same day. I know weather can change on a dime while crossing the Pyrenees, what are people's experiences with weather along the routes at the beginning of march . If the weather is good and taking the Napoleon route is clear I might change my mind and travel that route once I see the weather with my own eyes! I don't want to be on the Napoleon route and weather go south and get stuck since Orrison is closed from what I have read there is a emergency hut a long that route.
 
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jeffnd

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
March/April 2014
I left March 7th of last year. The pilgrim's office told everyone not to take the Napoleon route due to high snow still on the path. I do know of some people that still walked it though. Orrison was not open, and the hut along the way was filled with snow. The snow was chest deep in places on the high route and markers were covered. Two people ended up having to stay the night in a tent one of them brought along. The high winds ended up destroying the tent. Another group arrived at Roncesvalles in 1 day, but it was a miserable walk and said if they had to do it over again, they would have taken the lower route.

I should note, on the day I left, it got into the 70's. But the heat didn't last long once the sun went down. The folks who spent the night up on the mountain were freezing and wet from walking through slushy snow all day. The point is, you can't really know what the weather is on the mountain until you're up there.

Unless the pilgrim's office says the Napoleon route is safe, stick to the lower route. Walk to Valcarlos and spend the night. They have a great albergue and a very fun bar. Wake up refreshed and be ready for the uphill battle to Roncesvalles!
 

jamesw3435

Member
Past OR future Camino
March 2015 Ssint jean to Santiago
Thank you for posting, but if the weather is bad and I stick to the lower route as planned, I still intend making it to Roncesvalles the same day to follow my plan, for personal reasons Im trying to make Santiago by Easter Sunday. unless I cant really go on from Valcarlos ill be headed on to Roncesvalles. things might not go as planned and deal with that when that happens. I am looking to reach Santiago in 32 days easter sunday is 32 days from the day I start, unless my plans change I will follow http://santiago.forwalk.org/en/trail/31-days-to-santiago/

I left March 7th of last year. The pilgrim's office told everyone not to take the Napoleon route due to high snow still on the path. I do know of some people that still walked it though. Orrison was not open, and the hut along the way was filled with snow. The snow was chest deep in places on the high route and markers were covered. Two people ended up having to stay the night in a tent one of them brought along. The high winds ended up destroying the tent. Another group arrived at Roncesvalles in 1 day, but it was a miserable walk and said if they had to do it over again, they would have taken the lower route.

I should note, on the day I left, it got into the 70's. But the heat didn't last long once the sun went down. The folks who spent the night up on the mountain were freezing and wet from walking through slushy snow all day. The point is, you can't really know what the weather is on the mountain until you're up there.

Unless the pilgrim's office says the Napoleon route is safe, stick to the lower route. Walk to Valcarlos and spend the night. They have a great albergue and a very fun bar. Wake up refreshed and be ready for the uphill battle to Roncesvalles!
 
Last edited:

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
I start my Camino from saint jean pied de port on march 3rd,

The Napoleon Route - Orrison is not open until April and weather might be a issue on that route and it could be advised it is not safe to travel so I will check with the pilgrims office and locals once I arrive in saint jean.


The Valcarlos Route - I decided I would travel from Saint jean on the Valcarlos route to Roncesvalles the same day. I know weather can change on a dime while crossing the Pyrenees, what are people's experiences with weather along the routes at the beginning of march . If the weather is good and taking the Napoleon route is clear I might change my mind and travel that route once I see the weather with my own eyes! I don't want to be on the Napoleon route and weather go south and get stuck since Orrison is closed from what I have read there is a emergency hut a long that route.
Take a peek:
http://www.caminodesantiagotiempo.com/caminofrances/index.htm

Ultreia!
 

jamesw3435

Member
Past OR future Camino
March 2015 Ssint jean to Santiago
Im also walking from Santiago to Muxia and then to Finisterre 41 days to complete to Santiago, Muxia and Finisterre Way with a few days rest in Santiago before flying home, maybe a day in leon depending on how I feel when I reach there. I will confirm Muxia and Finisterre Way once I reach Santiago and see how many days I have left since I return april 15 from Santiago
 
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Brisbanegee

A champion is one who gets up when they can't.
Past OR future Camino
Camino de Santiago (2015)
Jam
I start my Camino from saint jean pied de port on march 3rd,

The Napoleon Route - Orrison is not open until April and weather might be a issue on that route and it could be advised it is not safe to travel so I will check with the pilgrims office and locals once I arrive in saint jean.


The Valcarlos Route - I decided I would travel from Saint jean on the Valcarlos route to Roncesvalles the same day. I know weather can change on a dime while crossing the Pyrenees, what are people's experiences with weather along the routes at the beginning of march . If the weather is good and taking the Napoleon route is clear I might change my mind and travel that route once I see the weather with my own eyes! I don't want to be on the Napoleon route and weather go south and get stuck since Orrison is closed from what I have read there is a emergency hut a long that route.
James i am heading off on 1st March and not sure which option either.
 
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Brisbanegee

A champion is one who gets up when they can't.
Past OR future Camino
Camino de Santiago (2015)
That looks like the same distance? That is a great Map, where did you get that from?

Cheers
 
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jeffnd

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
March/April 2014
I agree with you i am thinking of that and not sure how to go around. GPS?

Like James said, the Valcarlos route is well-marked. Last year, the pilgrims' office gave out maps of the route, and a page that had color pictures of what turns to take so you didn't get lost. I still managed to get lost, but that's another story!
 
M

mike archer

Guest
I walked both routes. I did Napoleon in 2013 because I arrived late in St Jean by bus and thought it would be easier and I wasn't in my best shape. NOT. The distance is the same more or less but there is nothing easy. Napoleon goes up and down up and down all the way to the top. I think the elevation change is the same as going over the top except the downhill side.

In 2014 I went over the top. There was only one place where you aren't walking on a road or Vehicle accessible trail and that was at the peak and it wasn't a long stretch. Its a steady up hill grind and the worst and steepest art is the first half. Everyone at the hostel were told to take Napoleon by the tourism office. Most of us didn't listen and the weather was fine. I think the tourism office is overly cautious and that they don't want to do unnecessary rescues. I think too that they have to deal with rescues of people who are unfit for the Camino in good weather. I think its the toughest day of the entire way from St Jean to Santiago. I believe there is an alternate way going down that follows the emergency road. Going down is a very steep and a rough trail. I fell three times and luckily only a scraped knee. I think it could be way worse when its wet.

BUT, I didn't do either in march/april. I think the best trail information would be to call Roncesvalles and get the report from those who went through that day . My concern would be having to break trail through a lot of snow.

Buen Camino
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
It really is as simple as this:

If the high road (Route Napoleon) is closed - don't try to walk it - if you have to be rescued then you will need to pay, justly, big money for that.
If the high road (Route Napoleon) is open, it is highly advisable to break it up in two day stages at Huntto or Orisson (reservation necessary) unless you are really well rested (no jet lag) and already fit and well trained in mountain hiking!
If the high route is closed, take the low route through Valcarlos.

It really ain't no rocket science, but please don't underestimate the Pyrenees! Buen Camino, SY
 

cher99840

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2013, 2017 Camino Frances SJPP-Santiago
2015 St. Olav's Way Oslo-Trondheim
2017 VdlP Seville-Merida
@mike archer . I think you have the routes turned around. Napoleon is over and Valcarlos is around. If by "tourist office" you mean Pilgrim's office, advising people to disregard their advice is unwise IMO.
 
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mike archer

Guest
@mike archer . I think you have the routes turned around. Napoleon is over and Valcarlos is around. If by "tourist office" you mean Pilgrim's office, advising people to disregard their advice is unwise IMO.



Cher, What I experienced was a slightly alarmist near directive by the hostel staff to take Valcarlos. I think they relied on a internet weather report yhat said it might rain. This was the hostel run by the pilgrims office I would say many of us were confused as the weather was fair. Having already walked Valcarlos I knew there wasn't much that was easier about it and I really wanted to do Napoleon. So as everyone were adults they made up their own minds, and by the hundreds pilgrims took Napoleon. If I were to do it again and in March/April I would get a report on the trail conditions from Roncesvalles and then consult the weather forecast. If I didn't emphasize that wet snow storms are hazardous to ones health let me say it. Hypothermia kills. Valcarlos isn't that impressive. I would not recommend that one misses Napoleon unless necessary.

I see another question to walking in march and april. If one has to be prepared for winter conditions crossing the Pyrenees yet once on the other side whether needed or not for the crossing you will have some clothing and equipment that isn't necessary for the remainder of the journey. Okay, there are a bunch of whatifs here so everyone has to do their best to make an informed decision.

Cheers




.
 

jamesw3435

Member
Past OR future Camino
March 2015 Ssint jean to Santiago
Orisson Is not open in march while I'm there, as I said above I'd only be taking the napoleon route if it was open, and clear , other wise I'll be taking the other other route .
It really is as simple as this:

If the high road (Route Napoleon) is closed - don't try to walk it - if you have to be rescued then you will need to pay, justly, big money for that.
If the high road (Route Napoleon) is open, it is highly advisable to break it up in two day stages at Huntto or Orisson (reservation necessary) unless you are really well rested (no jet lag) and already fit and well trained in mountain hiking!
If the high route is closed, take the low route through Valcarlos.

It really ain't no rocket science, but please don't underestimate the Pyrenees! Buen Camino, SY
 
John Brierley 2022 Camino Guide
The most selling Camino Guide is shipping November 1st. Get your today and start planning.
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.

Thornley

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
Orisson Is not open in march while I'm there, as I said above I'd only be taking the napoleon route if it was open, and clear , other wise I'll be taking the other other route .

It is not worth thinking about James.
Decide to take the lower path and you will be very happy with the result.
If you are going to ruin your trip it will occur in the first 3 days.
Use Valcarlos which is the ancient way as a jet lag stop.
Better town than the top of a hill especially if you see nothing and wonderful people in the village.

I agree with you i am thinking of that and not sure how to go around. GPS?

Don't even worry about the advice from StJ , just go the lower way........which is in fact not that lower ...and stay in Valcarlos.......next day Burgette and a warm bath.
Take clothes for the Blue Mountains mate , not Coolum.
 
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jamesw3435

Member
Past OR future Camino
March 2015 Ssint jean to Santiago
Thanks, like I was saying in a comment above, unless I really feel the need to stay in valcarlos, I will be headed right to roncesvalles, jet lag really does not bother me all that much, I tend to sleep on flights anyway
It is not worth thinking about James.
Decide to take the lower path and you will be very happy with the result.
If you are going to ruin your trip it will occur in the first 3 days.
Use Valcarlos which is the ancient way as a jet lag stop.
Better town than the top of a hill especially if you see nothing and wonderful people in the village.



Don't even worry about the advice from StJ , just go the lower way........which is in fact not that lower ...and stay in Valcarlos.......next day Burgette and a warm bath.
Take clothes for the Blue Mountains mate , not Coolum.
 
Last edited:

joe g texas aggies

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
SJPdP to Santinago April/May 2015
Cher, What I experienced was a slightly alarmist near directive by the hostel staff to take Valcarlos. I think they relied on a internet weather report yhat said it might rain. This was the hostel run by the pilgrims office I would say many of us were confused as the weather was fair. Having already walked Valcarlos I knew there wasn't much that was easier about it and I really wanted to do Napoleon. So as everyone were adults they made up their own minds, and by the hundreds pilgrims took Napoleon. If I were to do it again and in March/April I would get a report on the trail conditions from Roncesvalles and then consult the weather forecast. If I didn't emphasize that wet snow storms are hazardous to ones health let me say it. Hypothermia kills. Valcarlos isn't that impressive. I would not recommend that one misses Napoleon unless necessary.

I see another question to walking in march and april. If one has to be prepared for winter conditions crossing the Pyrenees yet once on the other side whether needed or not for the crossing you will have some clothing and equipment that isn't necessary for the remainder of the journey. Okay, there are a bunch of whatifs here so everyone has to do their best to make an informed decision.

Cheers




.
Hola Mike,
I read your post with interest - in regards to clothing. My son and I are departing SJPdP on 11 April. Have not decided which route to attempt. In any case, are you saying that once we make it over the Pyrenees that I can shed some of the warmer clothing? My son is only walking about the first week with me, as he has to go back to work. I might be able to persuade him to take some of my heavier clothing items with him. I am expecting lots of precipitation for the remainder of the Camino. Is that your experience? Thanks in advance for any response.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
@joe g texas aggies
Hold your fire with sending your warmer clothes back after he Pyrenees! The Meseta and the Montes de Leon can be quite chilly in April/ May and there is always O Cebreiro ... Buen Camino! SY
 
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