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Pyrenees difficulty

MicheleL

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
08/24/23
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean to Roncesvalles ?
 
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trecile

Moderator
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MicheleL

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
08/24/23
You could also take the Valcarlos route; essentially going around rather than over, if you have any concerns or the weather forecast is unfavourable (you didn't mention time of year except to say 'months').
Happy planning 🤗
👣🌏
Hello not going until August
 

Rick M

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April ('16,'18, '19, 22)
Sept ('21, '23)
I set off from sjpp last April with a guy who was 73 at the time. He found it steep and arduous, mostly because it's a steady climb for the first 2-3 hours. The climb is much less steep after orisson. He made it. Anyone can do it, not just Olympic athletes. Start walking hills now, with your pack. Take it slow. You'll be tired, but you'll be fine.
 
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isawtman

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, 2022
Ice Age Trail, 2014, 2019
In September I did it and here is the video so you can judge for yourself
Sorry about the foggy camera.
If you book a room then you don't have to worry about how long it takes you.
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
It is hardly possible to say how difficult it will be for younot knowing your condition, previous experience and so on. If in doubt I would consider splitting the stage in two by staying in Orisson or in the nice albergue Borda, about a kliometer farther up the mountain. I did this, because I started out late in SjpP and did not regret it ( all though I walked the second day in thick fog) The second day you could walk to Burguete or Espinal.
An advantage of splitting is also that you can take it more easy and have time and mental energy to enjoy the beautiful scenery
 
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Grousedoctor

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
Judging “difficulty” is such a subjective concept. Although there are more difficult climbs on the CF than the stage between SJPP and Roncesvalles, the fact that one goes over the Pyrenees on their first day on the Camino is the challenge. It is one of the most challenging days on this Camino, but also one of the most rewarding. After arriving in Roncesvalles, there is nothing like sitting on the terrace of Casa Sabina and basking in what you just accomplished.

I was lucky enough to cross the Pyrenees on a beautiful sunny spring day. The views from the Napoleon Route were amazing (it happened to snow two days later making it a much different experience for those pilgrims). On a very rainy day a couple years later, I took the Valcarlos Route over the Pyrenees. Although the first half is a flatter route, one still has significant climbing on the second half before reaching the top. Both routes demand being in good condition for this first stage.

Conditioning seems to be the key factor in making this first day a great experience. I trained very hard for my first Camino at the age of 65. Having done so paid big dividends on that first day crossing the Pyrenees. However, as was suggest above, you don’t have to cross all in one day. Starting out from SJPP mid-day and spending the night in Orisson would be an excellent option. Or, to make the hike a bit easier, have your backpack transported to Roncesvalles. Walk with a light day pack that first day.

You have several options and you’ll figure out one that works best for you. Nonetheless, get in the very best condition you can for your Camino. At the end of the day, your conditioning will determine how tired you feel and influence your walking and non-walking hours along The Way. Enjoy and Buen Camino.
 

mario juan

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
One
If you’re concerned about fitness then stay at orrison. You’ll probably get there at lunchtime which is enough for your first day. It’s a beautiful place and very easy to talk to new friends, after evening dinner they have a very sociable introduction session which basically means you stand up and and introduce yourself to the group with a couple of details about yourself. Many of the people you meet here will be bumping into you for the next 30 days so I’d definitely recommend it .
 
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Mito

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF (2011, 2013, 2018) Roncesvalles-Astorga
CLeP (2013) Le Puy-?
GUD (2019) Dovre-Trondheim
I am a 68 yo woman and in decent shape but no athlete! If you’ve done any hiking at all with hills, you will find most of the Camino more of a walk, rather than a real hike. I started the last time woefully out of shape and with no practice prep. That first day is long but can be broken up at Orison. Take it slow, listen to your body, and IMHO you will be fine. Far more pilgrims fall to blisters than terrain! The standard book makes the daily walks look steep. But if you look at the actual elevation gain or loss, it’s not much. Very doable.
 

NJohn

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances: September 2022
Oh, you can definitely do it - all in one day if you want. I’m 64 and my husband and I walked SJPP to Roncesvalles on September 14 this year. I admit I was extremely worried about this first stage, but it turned out not as bad as I anticipated. I think part of it was pure adrenaline and excitement of that first day. It was so fun walking and talking with new people. I did train in the months before. If you don’t have hills where you live, find a treadmill with an incline and do part of your training on that, with your backpack on. Also, we lucked out on having pretty weather the first day. As many have said, the first part of the climb to Orisson is the steepest, after that it is gradual. If you do decide to stop at Orrisson or Borda, you have the luxury of starting a little later and taking your time. Otherwise, you will be very early. (And as a side note, I found the climb to O’Cebreiro much harder)
 
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Roland49

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF2019, CP2023!
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean to Roncesvalles ?
I was 49 as I walked my first Camino, beeing in fair shape for my age.
Had trained in my boots and with backpack 50k in my local hills. That's all.

I found that crossing the Pyrenees via the Route Napolean very relaxing. Yes, there are some stretches which are a bit demanding, but nothing to serious. I stopped in Roncesvalles, but could have made it to Burguete, too.

In SJPdP you can choose between the Route Napolean and the Valcarlos Route, following the road to Roncesvalles, that is, in fact, a bit less stressing and the only possible way in late Fall/Winter/Spring between September / October and March / May, depending on the local weather.

Hope that you'll have a great Camino!
 

Jagdev D.

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April 2022
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean to Roncesvalles ?
@MicheleL ,
my personal experience, at 72 I walked the Pyrenees from SJPP seven months ago, I stayed one night at about 9 kms away at Alebergue BORDA ,
you are younger, but I highly recommend stay a night at either Orrison or Borda , (1 km apart from each other ) it took a toll on me climbing , you can stay in SJPP , depends on the weather and enjoy the pretty city, walk slowly , you can do it, Look back and savour the glimpse at SJPP below in the valley , the beauty you have passed /walked over , it is all awesome.
you still have to climb more next day but the climb is over longer distance.
Slow and steady , have snack and water , take rest when and if you need it.

Please , despite you being tired and fatigue etc.. Don`t forget to enjoy the moment , you will forget it the hardship very soon,…
But all that you passing through , Pyrenees are beautiful on a sunny days but most beautiful is your Camino Walk.
Wishing you the best of luck .
Cheers and Buen Camino !
Canada
 
The Way: Through a Field of Stars (audiobook)
A great book to listen to while training for the Camino or to relive the experience!
Time of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Not knowing much about you I don't want to say how easy or difficult the walk will be for you but those videos above show that you are not doing mountaineering. You will be in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The climb from SJPdP to the top of the way at the Col de Lepoeder is 4,500 feet elevation difference in 12.7 miles. You are lucky that you can find mountains in Washington to try out some equivalent walks. Here are the elevation profiles of the two way ways to Roncevalles:


Once at the Col de Lepoeder there are two ways down to Roncevalles. The "official" way is steeper and many have had trouble with it. Some injure themselves and have their camino end on day one. Use the information in the thread linked to below to choose which way to go from the Col de Lepoeder.

 

John Hawke

Leaving O'Cebreiro
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean to Roncesvalles ?
In 2016 on my 72nd birthday and after spending the night at Bellari (highly recommended) in Saint Jean Pied de Port I took the Roman way. I had trained but there are no mountains or even hills in Florida so it was difficult. Go slow and listen to your body. I fell on the descent, fortunately no damage, and was one of the last to reach Roncevalles. I went back in 2018 and stopped at Orrison. Both Caminos were difficult but I wouldn't say one was better than the other. My advice for your first Camino is to start in St Jean, stay at the Albergue Bellari, start early and fresh and go the whole way to Roncevalles, up and over!
 

Scott Sweeney

Veteran Member
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean to Roncesvalles ?
We've found crossing those mountain on the CF or Argones at times challenging. Our biggest issue was always been the elevation. We live at roughly 52' above sea level. The easier hikes over the mountain was when we gave ourselves a day to acclimate In St Jean Pied de Port or Oloron-Sainte-Marie or Burguete to France. Remember that first day isn't the only Mountain you'll climb.

But it is worth doing. Good luck and Buen Camino.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
You could also take the Valcarlos route; essentially going around rather than over, if you have any concerns or the weather forecast is unfavourable (you didn't mention time of year except to say 'months').
Happy planning 🤗
👣🌏
While it is true that the Valcarlos route crosses at a slightly lower altitude, it is more undulating, and I think you would find there isn't much different in the total climb that you need to do.

One objective measure of difficulty is to calculate a climb adjusted equivalent distance. I use a variation of Naismith's Rule, which is similar to that used by Brierley in his guidebook. With the factors that I use based on my walking speed and experience, the equivalent distance from SJPP to Roncesvalles is 38 km. The climb adds the equivalent of 14.5 km, or for me around three hours, to doing the a walk of this length just on the flat.
 

NM99

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés - StJPP-Santiago May-June 2022
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean to Roncesvalles ?
I did my first Camino (at 59 going on 60) in May-June, Francés from SJPP to Santiago. If you’re in good shape it is definitely doable to walk through to Roncesvalles and I know I could have gone beyond, especially with the nervous energy of the new experience. But I was glad I had heeded the recommendation to stay (and book ahead!) at Orisson for two reasons. First, I ended my first, arduous day with a feeling of accomplishment—but also with energy to spare that allowed me to take in the spectacular views and fully enjoy the evening at an albergue with fellow pilgrims. Secondly, it was absolutely fantastic to wake up in the Pyrenees. If you’re lucky, you’ll also have a clear day and get to see the sun rising through the mist in the valley below and the many layers of hills in the distance. Spectacular. The walk the next day is gorgeous and you’ll be fresh to enjoy it as well, with the wild horses and amazing vistas. If you’re so inclined, you could opt to walk beyond Roncesvalles to the next town.
 
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JulieandPeter

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015, 2017, 2019, 2022
Le Puy - SJPDP 2018
I have walked it a few times. In my experience the difficulty level has fluctuated depending on many factors including snow, rain, fog, sun, my age, my weight, the weight of my pack, how far I walked the first day (Roncesvalles, Honto, Orrison), how much I trained, which route (steep route through forest vs longer less steep route), my feet, and my knees. :)

Suffice it to say my last walk in the heat of June 2022, at age 62, no training, a gain of 60+ pounds, and bad knees was much more difficult than age 55 in okay shape with lots of training even though in April 2015 we walked through snow.
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Tips For Uphill Walking

If a person has some level of cardio fitness, making it up a long uphill grade is a matter of pace, maintaining calorie intake, hydration, and utilizing meaningful breaks.

1. As you head uphill, adjust your pace to a comfortable level which you are able to maintain without needing to frequently stop and start. Frequent stops and starts adds to exhaustion. It doesn't matter if your pace is 4 miles per hour or 0.5 miles per hour. What matters is continuously walking between planned breaks.

Set a planned interval for a short and deliberate break -- say every 20 minutes, lasting for five minutes. Set your pace so that you can walk until reaching break time.

Setting your pace is a dynamic process, you need to adjust it as circumstances dictate. Please set your pace based on what you need, not on how you feel.

How do you maintain a pace at a set speed? My trick is to periodically check myself by silently humming a tune... the same tune.... which is easy to sync to each step I take. Don't laugh, but I use 'Hark The Herald Angles Sing'. It is NOT the speed of the tune that determines my pace, but my pace will determine the speed of the tune. Once that pace is determined, then you can use the speed of the tune to check yourself.

Some folks may view this as too formulaic or too rigid, but that is not the case. It is simply a tool to assist in understanding your body's rhythm while walking. The more familiar you become with your body's needs while hiking -- which happens as your experience grows -- the less need there is for such tricks like humming a tune.

As the grade uphill gets steeper and I need to slow, I don't necessarily slow how fast I take a step, I adjust the length of each step. In other words, in keeping time with my song, I might go from, say, 10 inches between one footstep to the next, to only 5 inches between steps. That will automatically slow how fast I am moving, and still keep me in step with my song.

Inexperienced folks will start out fast and try to maintain that pace because they are fresh, full of energy, and not at all tired. . .yet. They want to keep up with those in better shape. They are in a race for beds. They are worried about being caught in the rain. Whatever.

They will start to crump within a fairly short distance up the hill; and the crumping will become cumulative with each step, even if they slow down later, because they have burned through their energy producing stores with that initial fast pace. They not only will crump, but they are now going to stay in a state of depleted energy which only a very prolonged break can solve.

Start slower than what you feel is a normal pace for you. Let people pass you by, and see how that pace feels as you continue uphill. If you start feeling too out of breath, slow down. If your leg muscles start feeling too fatigued, slow down.

Also, keep the above tips and cautions in mind AFTER you take a break. You will feel refreshed and you will be tempted to start out faster than you should. RESIST that temptation. :)

2. At every short break time, eat something. Your stomach and GI tract can only process food at a specific rate of time, so you want to match your intake of food to that optimum time frame. Eating food at about the rate of 100 calorie increments every 20 to 30 minutes is a good time frame. A quarter of a Snicker bar and a bite of cheese, or a handful of trail mix, or a bit of bocadillo,or some Peanut M&Ms, or some energy gel with some nuts, etc. The idea is to replenish your energy producing stores that your muscles will need for the next 25 to 30 minutes.

In addition to hydrating during breaks, a good technique is to be sipping and drinking water while you are walking. You need to stay hydrated without overdoing water consumption.

3. If it starts to become very difficult to walk 20 minutes without stopping in between, then lengthen your break from 5 minutes to 8 minutes, or 10 minutes. Give your calorie intake a longer period to do its job, and for you to re-oxygenate and fuel your muscle cells. If you find that it fairly easy to walk 20 minutes before stopping, then add 5 more minutes to your walk time between breaks. Still fairly easy? Then keep adding 5 minutes to the interval before stopping. However, I would advise not going longer than 1 hour without taking a break. I usually break every 55 minutes or so.

4. It is understandable if you have some jitters about a physically demanding and prolonged walk up into the mountains or hills. Or even on less aggressive elevations.

Doubt may pierce your mind with a persistent whisper of "can I do this?" which forces one's mind and gut to focus on perceived inadequacies. Doubt doesn't wait for evidence of one's ability to perform, or to look at what actually will occur during your hike. Nope, all Doubt is concerned with, is making you feel inadequate and insecure.

So as you prepare for your Camino you can either let Doubt have its fun with you, or you can push Doubt to the background and tell it to, "Shut up; you just wait and see what I can do!!!".

I go through at least a portion of the above every time late winter eases into spring and I begin preparing for the coming backpacking season, especially for planned multi-week backpacking treks. I went through that for my first Camino in 2017. I am hearing those voices again this year as I am planning on a Camino this Fall.

I just simply respond to the question of 'Can I do this?', by answering "I am as prepared as I can be, I will be flexible to things happening around me, and regardless of what happens, life will continue on".

After all, I am not going into combat, or heading into a burning building; I am just going for a walk. :);)
 

JimG59

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino de Santiago de Compostela (2022)
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean to Roncesvalles ?
It’s not that difficult but it should not be missed. It was one of the highlights, as it was for most people I spoke with, of my Camino from SJPDP in September. You can get your bag, if you intended backpacking, taken over to your accommodation by Express Bourricot.
 

Judith Bush

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2016 and 2017
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean to Roncesvalles ?
It’s honestly the best part. Just go slow!
 

Moniq

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino de Portugues
I set off from sjpp last April with a guy who was 73 at the time. He found it steep and arduous, mostly because it's a steady climb for the first 2-3 hours. The climb is much less steep after orisson. He made it. Anyone can do it, not just Olympic athletes. Start walking hills now, with your pack. Take it slow. You'll be tired, but you'll be fine.
Hi, I am more concerned about the descent. Is it very steep?
 
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Daisychain96

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean to Roncesvalles ?
It is difficult! We did it in October and we had hurricane winds in our face the whole way ! It was absolute torture for me !
 

tomnorth

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015)
First, I would like to encourage you to walk the stretch from SJPDP to Roncesvalles. The views are drop-dead gorgeous. As far as difficulty goes, we can only report on how difficult it was for us. We can't know whether you are up to it. But you say you are reasonably fit. I think a reasonably fit person can do this stretch. It is not easy, but it is not impossible. The difficulty lies in the long steep uphill stretches, followed at the end by a steep downhill section to finish it off. I've hiked harder trails. If you hydrate well and pace yourself, and if you are reasonably fit as you say, I bet you can do it.
 
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Rita Flower

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022 Via del la Plata
@MicheleL ,
my personal experience, at 72 I walked the Pyrenees from SJPP seven months ago, I stayed one night at about 9 kms away at Alebergue BORDA ,
you are younger, but I highly recommend stay a night at either Orrison or Borda , (1 km apart from each other ) it took a toll on me climbing , you can stay in SJPP , depends on the weather and enjoy the pretty city, walk slowly , you can do it, Look back and savour the glimpse at SJPP below in the valley , the beauty you have passed /walked over , it is all awesome.
you still have to climb more next day but the climb is over longer distance.
Slow and steady , have snack and water , take rest when and if you need it.

Please , despite you being tired and fatigue etc.. Don`t forget to enjoy the moment , you will forget it the hardship very soon,…
But all that you passing through , Pyrenees are beautiful on a sunny days but most beautiful is your Camino Walk.
Wishing you the best of luck .
Cheers and Buen Camino !
Canada

Beautiful advice - to remember to enjoy the experience, sights and sounds, even though it might be hard. The Pyrenees are still the standout highlight of my Camino Frances. I was 56 and I thought I was fit. Hahah. I had barely got out of town when I was puffing and panting and had to rest. But slowly slowly I made it to Roncesvalles. That was quite a few years ago. Now I would stay at Orrison, transport my pack and enjoy those absolutely beautiful mountains.
Buen Camino
 

musicman

Ensuitepilgrim
Time of past OR future Camino
2004, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
Break up your journey with a stop at Orisson- a great place and experience- you will have walked the so called hardest part by then.
 

Kathy F.

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2013, CF from Lourdes 2015, CP Porto 2022
I did SJPdP to Roncevalles in one day on the ValCarlos because very poor, snowy weather in late May closed the Napoleon. I was 63, not in great shape. Finished wet and tired but during daylight.

After a good meal and a good rest, continued to SdC without any real problems, except that it changed my life (for the better, so not really a problem).
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
I would choose the Valcarlos route which I walked 10 times from age 65 to 76. The views on this route are just great! The Valcarlos albergue although municipal take reservations.
See more here. There are also other accommodations available.

For more info on this historic route see
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...y

However next day after Valcarlos do stop at Roncesvalles monastery where the evening blessing in the Roncesvalles monastery church is a poignant experience for all; don't miss this age-old tradition.

During easier years in fair weather and foul at the end of each exhausting day climbing it was a pleasure to arrive at the monastery and attend in the ancient Romanesque church the evening blessing. If you choose to attend you will remember it always.

Happy planning and Buen camino!
 
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jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021, Norte/Primitivo 2022, VF 2023
It is NOT difficult, but it IS EXHAUSTING (which makes it feel difficult). The first 8km are very steep - and since it is the first day of hiking, it makes it feel even steeper than it really is. Your body is not likely to be acclimated. Thankfully - in Orisson there are 2 albergues and one of them has bar with a huge patio for pilgrims to take a long rest while eating and rehydrating (please - if you plan to use their patio - please make a food/drink purchase). After that - there is still a lot more uphill, before you finally plateau and then head downhill into Roncesvalles. It is a long, hard, exhausting day for sure. But technically it is not difficult. The path is often a road or dirt path. Not "mountaineering". For the most part - you have easy footing, although there are some rougher path areas as well. It is gorgeous. The views are breathtaking if you don't have too much fog to deal with.

If you want to - you can book far in advance to either Refuge Orisson or Albergue Borda - I have stayed at Refuge Orisson and loved it. Albergue Borda looks wonderful too. But it is only 3 hours to Orisson for most people - so that would be a short walking day. For many - that is welcomed since the path leading there is so steep.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
But it is only 3 hours to Orisson for most people - so that would be a short walking day.
That's why I suggest that those staying at Orisson or Borda don't get an early start.
Take your time in the morning in SJPDP - have a leisurely breakfast, look in the shops, etc. Then start walking after 11 am to arrive in the early afternoon.
 

Jamieb

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
It wasn't that it was difficult it was just long and the day we walked the weather wasn't great which made it seem more difficult to me. Very steep getting to Orisson - that was tough. Once you start descending into Roncevalles it got difficult again - we started down the forest path but decided it was too much on the knees, backtracked and went the paved path.

The other thing that I thought made it difficult is that once pass Orisson there is not any services until you get to Roncevalles - there is a roadside van that served snacks, hot coffee but other than that nothing - no food stops, no bathroom facilities. Be sure to load up on snacks etc in SJPDP for that days walk.
 

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021, Norte/Primitivo 2022, VF 2023
That's why I suggest that those staying at Orisson or Borda don't get an early start.
Take your time in the morning in SJPDP - have a leisurely breakfast, look in the shops, etc. Then start walking after 11 am to arrive in the early afternoon.
Yes, agreed! Don't start too early. You wouldn't be able to go into the room until "check in time" anyway. Not that I minded hanging out on the terrace ;)

But also - don't start too late as you must be checked in before dinner time (6pm) - at least - that was the case for Refuge Orisson when I went.
 

aswansonsr

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Completed CF Sept, 2022
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean to Roncesvalles ?
It's a kick in the teeth, but slow and steady, you'll be fine. Consider this:

The Horses of Orisson
The first real morning waking on the Camino and 25km planned for the second day, it was predawn dark. The sky was cloudless and moonless. The ground and the road were dark, but the field of stars overhead was immense. The constellation Orion stood large to the south, Jupiter bright in the SSE sky; otherwise the dome of the sky was wallpapered with twinkles of varying brightness.

Dawn rolls towards the sun at a snail’s pace. The first shades of dawn are mostly imperceptible and are heard in distant cowbells or rooster crows. Without realization, I was a participant in my first Camino morning. I learned the difference between sunrise and dawn. Sunrise gets defined as a particular moment when the earth’s rotation turns a specific location out of the shadow of the horizon. Dawn on the other hand is an ethereal period. It’s a transition. It’s magical on the Camino.

As the black sky transitioned from dark purple to dark blue, I realized I no longer needed a headlight. Walking along the high plains of the Pyrenees’ foothills, every few kilometers passing a flock of sheep, the dark blue slightly more quickly lifted through ever lighter shades. On a hill to my left, three horses were running through the fields to the south. They stopped for a minute, almost as if in acknowledgment of our mutual presence, then galloped off south, over a hill and into the morning sky.
 
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.

Barbara

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
Or you could start somewhere else. About a week's worth of walking somewhere to the north of SJPP. That way you get used to the rhythm of walking before you have to walk up a biggish hill and you get to enjoy the pretty views. Unless it's raining or foggy, which it always seems to be for me. Don't overthink it. It's a marked path up a hill. It's a pass. They go over the low points.
 

cjward

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances May 2022
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean to Roncesvalles ?
I’m 70 in generally good health except for asthma and a knee issue that requires a full time support brace. You can do it! Take it slow. Stop is Orisson. Even if you don’t “need” to stop, It’s worth the opportunity to meet people you may see again in Santiago. Just listen to your body. Stop now and then To soak in the beauty and take photos. Put one foot in front of the other and remember why you’re there. If I could do it…truly anyone can. Not a question of can you do it!! But who is going to stop you!
 

Moniq

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino de Portugues
I’m 70 in generally good health except for asthma and a knee issue that requires a full time support brace. You can do it! Take it slow. Stop is Orisson. Even if you don’t “need” to stop, It’s worth the opportunity to meet people you may see again in Santiago. Just listen to your body. Stop now and then To soak in the beauty and take photos. Put one foot in front of the other and remember why you’re there. If I could do it…truly anyone can. Not a question of can you do it!! But who is going to stop you!
How did you manage the descent with your knee. Because that is my worry. Like you in descent shape and 12 years younger and hardly an opportunity to do regular mountain/hill walking as I am from the Netherlands.
 

cjward

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances May 2022
How did you manage the descent with your knee. Because that is my worry. Like you in descent shape and 12 years younger and hardly an opportunity to do regular mountain/hill walking as I am from the Netherlands.
I’ve lived in Florida the past 7 years. Highest elevation 156 feet! No opportunity to see what limits I had. Can’t sugar coat it. Descents were hard. Especially going into Zubiri. I went slow. People past me so fast I felt the wind whoosh by. Use poles. Did I mention go slow? Many many times I went down sideways. Always bad leg first. Look where you are stepping!! Be stable before the next step. Go slow! Some people said to zig zag. My knee couldn’t take the pivot that required. You will find what works for you. Seriously there’s no magic bullet. I know what my struggles were. And I know without knowing anything about you, you’ve got this.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
How did you manage the descent with your knee. Because that is my worry
The descent into Roncesvalles is not bad if you take the gentler path to the right as mentioned previously.
As @Tincatinker said - if you take the gentler path to the right, which is suggested by the Pilgrims Office, it's much easier.
You can see it on this map - the dotted line at Col. de Lepoeder

View attachment 137406

The descent into Zubiri is more problematic.
 
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.

cjward

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances May 2022
How did you manage the descent with your knee. Because that is my worry. Like you in descent shape and 12 years younger and hardly an opportunity to do regular mountain/hill walking as I am from the Netherlands.
I will say, if you already know you have a risky knee. Get as much medical help before you go. Injections, brace, acupuncture. Talk to a sports medicine doctor. Use everything available before you go.
How did you manage the descent with your knee. Because that is my worry. Like you in descent shape and 12 years younger and hardly an opportunity to do regular mountain/hill walking as I am from the Netherlands.
one last thing that truly helped as much as anything—I was able to get physical therapy for my knee that helped strengthen it. I also was able to bring my full backpack to therapy and got some help in lifting etc the right way as to not injure my knee (or back). IMHO—There is no shame in sending some of the weight (or all) ahead over particularly difficult sections.
 

Tom Hagger

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés, Norte, Primitivo, Português, Plata etc.
Michelel, have an early start, take your time and, unless you are less fit than you think, you will have no problem reaching Roncesvalles. Buen Camino!
 

skystream

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances planned
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean to Roncesvalles ?
I walked it without prior training. And I am not athletic. It is worth it, do it.
 

FireDragon

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
March first stage, and second stage mid-April 2023
I am intent of avoiding Roncevalles because I need the calm before setting out on the Camino frances. I do wish to walk to the Col de Somport in mid April and would like to know if I need mountain shoes or trekking shoes will be okay given that Somport is approximately 1600 meters and there may have snow up there. I could call the tourist office in Oloron Sainte-Marie....
 

Carolina A-A

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés 2016
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean to Roncesvalles ?
Hi, my husband and I walked the entire Camino Francés when we were 59 and 63. He did fine throughout this stage and the whole Camino. I found the climb to Orisson steep and staying there a great decision. Waking up the next morning was truly heaven. The second day through the Pyrenees is much easier and so beautiful! However, I found the downhill through the forest from el Collado de Lepoeder to Roncesvalles the most difficult part of my whole Camino. It's quite steep and can be slippery. My knees suffered a lot (and, yes, I had trekking poles). If I do it again, I'll definitely take the alternative route down. Again, my husband had no trouble at all. The Camino is a beautiful, very individual, experience. Buen Camino!
 
How to avoid failure "be prepared"
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc

freespirit

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances - Lourdes v SJPDP - Santiago (June/July 2010) Camino Frances - SJPDP - Santiago (July/August 2015) Camino Frances - SJPDP - Santiago (June/July/August 2017)
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean too Roncesvalles ?
Hi I first did the Camino in 2010 at the young age of 65 from SJDP to Roncervalls at times was hard going and sometimes easy, just stop for a rest now and then, but i can be done i also did the same trip in 2015,have faith in your self and you will make it
 

Barbara

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
I am intent of avoiding Roncevalles because I need the calm before setting out on the Camino frances. I do wish to walk to the Col de Somport in mid April and would like to know if I need mountain shoes or trekking shoes will be okay given that Somport is approximately 1600 meters and there may have snow up there. I could call the tourist office in Oloron Sainte-Marie....
Something with a decent grip. Look at the weather forecast. Or get the bus. Some go over the top, others through the tunnel (vehicles only tunnel, no walkers or bikes)
 

Jermann75

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2018
Why not just take it slow? Regardless of your fitness ability?

It's the first day, enjoy, chat with people, take photos, talk to the cows... There's so much to see, imagine if you could just enjoy every step instead of trying to get to the next place.

Orisson is such a wonderful experience as well. When I was there they had a lovely dinner that really connected the people there. Some of those people were with me the entire walk.

If you don't have a tight timeline, I'd do it in 2 days.
 

FireDragon

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
March first stage, and second stage mid-April 2023
Something with a decent grip. Look at the weather forecast. Or get the bus. Some go over the top, others through the tunnel (vehicles only tunnel, no walkers or bikes)
Thanks…something to think about..the bus…first time through the tunnel was 4 months after it was opened when traveling from Madrid to Geneva.
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
+ others
It's a tough climb. I did it as a fairly fit 54yo and would not discount the effort. What I clearly remember is the cyclists pushing their bikes uphill only minutes after keaving SJPdP! Of course if you have trained on other walks prior to departure then it will be easier. If you haven't... well, one of the Dutch volunteers at Roncevalles told me a pilgrim died of a heart attack 2 weeks earlier, just 400m short of the monastery. This happens rarely, and most make it successfully, but it can happen so you need to be realistic.
 
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Kev&Kath

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances - Oct/Dec 2021
VdlP - Apr/Jun 2023
You could also take the Valcarlos route; essentially going around rather than over, if you have any concerns or the weather forecast is unfavourable (you didn't mention time of year except to say 'months').
Happy planning 🤗
👣🌏
The 'Valcarlos' is an interesting route. The actual walk to Valcarlos town is magnificent, and I'd say the first day (if you decide to break the walk to Roncesvalles into two days) is a great opener for the Frances. However, day two presents a fairly intense walk...gaining almost a 1000 metres in 12 kilometres. Certainly not the constant climb that the Napoleon presents, but no walk in the park either.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2018
Spring 2023 Via de la Plata
The first 5 miles are the steepest on the Camino Francés, but most of the Camino between St Jean and Roncesvalles is on a road or nice path - it's not mountaineering!

Check out this time lapse video to see the complete stage:


[QUOTE="trecile, post: 1084185, member: 52787"] enjoy.77541/[/QUOTE]
I would suggest stopping at Orisson or Auberge Borda to split up the first stage.
Staying in Orisson is a wonderful experience. I've done it twice and wouldn't miss it!
 

backpack45

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Vezelay (2017, in progress); Primitivo & Norte; Geneva/LePuy; Arles; Portuguese; Francés + more
There is also a bus. Not very "pyrenees" but more a illustration of foothills rather than mountains.
Staying in Orisson is a wonderful experience. I've done it twice and wouldn't miss it!
It's a wonderful experience as is staying over at Orisson to have a good meal and start to the pilgrim experience. I hope you don't have to miss it!
 

MargiSchmidt

CF: SJPP to Santiago Sept-Oct 2022
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, Sept 9, 2022...First One
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean to Roncesvalles ?
Hi Michele- I finished my first camino from SJPP to Santiago in Sept/Oct of this year. I am 63. I think that it all depends....on the weather and on your level of fitness. It's a tought ascent and quite rocky in parts. If I were to do it again, I would reserve a bed in either Orisson or Borda vs walking all the way to Roncesvalles. Mostly because it was 97F / 36C on the day I walked that portion of the route and the heat and incline were not fun. I was dangerously dehydrated when I arrived at Roncesvalles- when it's that hot, one just sweats water out almost as fast as it goes in.
Also, I definitely would not miss SJPP. Such a beautiful village.
Lastly, based on chatting with other pilgrims along the way, that first night on the mountain is a lovely bonding experience that I'm sorry to have missed. But there were other climbs along the journey as well, and my best advice- which is the same advice I received from many, is, listen to your body. I recommend giving it a shot- just practice climbing hills with your backpack. I surprised myself... I'm sure you will too! Buen Camino!
 

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Icheepoo

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese Camino (Sept 2022)
Are there sheep and horses on the Varcarlos route like what I see on alot of videos of the Napolean route? I'm more interested in that than the mountains. Even if the Varcarlos route doesn't have that to offer, do other parts of the CF give a similar experience? Walking with a herd of sheep and horses...
 
How to avoid failure "be prepared"
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
Are there sheep and horses on the Varcarlos route like what I see on alot of videos of the Napolean route? I'm more interested in that than the mountains. Even if the Varcarlos route doesn't have that to offer, do other parts of the CF give a similar experience? Walking with a herd of sheep and horses...
No. At least not the free-ranging ones; some in pastures, though.
 

FireDragon

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
March first stage, and second stage mid-April 2023
I live in France, area when hiking I see the Pyrénées and I often wonder if pilgrims going to Santiago would benefit from input from here.
 
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
1. As you head uphill, adjust your pace to a comfortable level which you are able to maintain without needing to frequently stop and start. Frequent stops and starts adds to exhaustion. It doesn't matter if your pace is 4 miles per hour or 0.5 miles per hour. What matters is continuously walking between planned breaks.
I think this is one of the most important bits of advice about walking uphill that I have read. Actually, it is good advice for ANY kind of walking, in my opinion. No two people walk at the exact same pace, and the uphills put that into stark relief. If you’re walking with someone, your body will thank you if you agree ahead of time that you will see each other at the top.

I have been both the faster and the slower member of a pair of walkers. For my first camino, I was the faster one and used to stop and wait for my walking pal. She later told me that she would have preferred not to always see me in the distance, huff up to the point where I was, and then see that I was ready to get going again just when she was ready to rest. We later walked the Norte together and agreed to start out together, but once we were out of town and on our way, each one would just fall into her natural walking rhythm and we would see each other at the albergue. It was oh so much more relaxing and invigorating.

I am now on the slower end of most walking pairs, and I find that Dave’s advice about geting into my own rhythm works beautifully. This sometimes mean that I pass my speedier partner who is taking a rest, but I resist the urge to stop and just keep going until I need the stop myself.

I had no idea that frequent stops and starts add to exhaustion, but that’s a good physiological explanation for what might seem like rude behavior on my part!
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
I am 61 in reasonably good shape
I first did SJPP to Roncesvalles on a single day as a "reasonably" fit 64-year-old. It was hard work - the first part up to Orisson and then the last part down to Roncesvalles - but entirely do-able. I had some of my backpack contents transported that day.

Michele - How are you on stairs? I don't bother training on stairs but they might be a good comparison with that steep part before Orisson. Going up, say, 5 flights of stairs slowly with a pause on each landing is much different from jogging up while talking excitedly to other people. The walk up to Orisson is like that. I am always surprised on my walks at home, how much more easily I get out of breath when I try to eat, or talk, or do something else that interferes with my breathing and pace.

I assume you will be taking walking poles, and have figured out how to use them properly before you go. (But don't be intimidated by the complicated descriptions of how to do that!)

If a person has some level of cardio fitness, making it up a long uphill grade is a matter of pace
I agree with the slow and steady advice, but think it is fine to stop and rest regularly. I set my eyes on a goal up ahead, or decide on a number of steps before I can stop. Then I go slowly and steadily, maybe counting step by step - 50 more steps before stopping, 40 more steps..., etc.
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
I agree with the slow and steady advice, but think it is fine to stop and rest regularly. I set my eyes on a goal up ahead, or decide on a number of steps before I can stop. Then I go slowly and steadily, maybe counting step by step - 50 more steps before stopping, 40 more steps..., etc.

I do establish a need for regular stops in the post. Once the rest stop time is established - depending on conditioning it can be every 15 minutes to every hour. The focus is as you indicated, continue to that rest stop point at a level of pace that avoids the need to stop before reaching the rest stop.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
Please set your pace based on what you need, not on how you feel.
Dave can you expand a bit here on what you mean? I'm a bit confused since what I need while walking uphill is determined in large part by what I feel in the moment - once I get going, that is.

At the outset, I treat a hill like the 1st 20 miles of a marathon, holding myself back until those reserves are most needed and the worst of the distance is behind me.

So am I correct to assume that you mean that it's important to temporarily ignore the "feeling juuust fine!" messages at first?
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Exactly. What is meant is that one can feel energized refreshed and full of excitement, etc. . . and start off at a very rapid pace that matches those feelings. The effect will be to quickly deplete stored glycogen to a level of exhaustion that cannot be recovered from during the rest of the walk or hike without a very long stop.

Most of us have the experience of doing what you do, holding back our pace in anticipation of a long hike ahead. As we seemingly slowly plod along, we see those who are less experienced fly by. Inevitably it seems we catch up eventually as they now struggle from excessive tiredness.
 
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
More snow on the way for the Pyrénées and rainy days until Friday for the plains.
Fortunately, @MicheleL isn't planning on crossing the Pyrenees until August, and no one should be planning to walk the route Napoleon this week since it's closed for the season. 😉
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I live in France, area when hiking I see the Pyrénées and I often wonder if pilgrims going to Santiago would benefit from input from here.
This is a kind offer, but running a routine weather report in a general thread such as this was doesn't make sense to me. You might find there are other ways to provide this information in a way that allows forum members who are just about to leave SJPP to get some idea of the conditions.

Of course, there are many useful resources that provide similar information, including the Pilgrim Office in SJPP and national weather services. These are all well worth monitoring as you start your journey.
 
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davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
If you will, I am on location and could help pilgrims not familiar with the way things are done here..including weather reports. LOL.
Perhaps volunteering with the Pilgrim Office in St Jean Pied de Port would be useful for you. That office already provides service to assist with up to the minute weather reports and route conditions, as well as assist with lodgings, eateries, etc. You might be of help with that effort quite nicely.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
I am on location and could help pilgrims not familiar with the way things are done here..including weather reports
In years past @estorildon was living in Barritz and would sometimes post here about local conditions up in the mountains (he'd go up in the car). If severe weather was happening or on the way it was quite useful.
 

HarleyQ

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean to Roncesvalles ?
This is just our experience Aug/sept 2022….we both are in our mid 50’s and had been training for a year. But nothing in our area could prepare us for SJPP to Roncesvalles.
It is hard and the books list the level of difficulties, but they really don’t reflect the true terrain. Incline for several miles is hard not to mention all the rocks.
I fell twice outside of Zuribi going to Pamplona on rocks in the decline. I was taking it slow going my own speed. The people behind me were in a rush both times. They expect me to move and when they come up right behind as like I’m slowing them down. I’m watching my footing and looking ahead. The moment I looked behind me is when I fell.
By the end of that route I had two swollen knees and took two rest days. I didn’t want a rescue and I continued walking. We did have to fly back to the states. I could no longer decline.
Positive note…I have gotten better due to husbands care of my knees and helping me exercise to heal.
We are going back in 2023 and if I holdup the line then so be it. I am on a meditation walk for me.
Take your time and know that not all pilgrims are mindful of others safety.
 

FireDragon

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
March first stage, and second stage mid-April 2023
In years past @estorildon was living in Barritz and would sometimes post here about local conditions up in the mountains (he'd go up in the car). If severe weather was happening or on the way it was quite useful.
From where I live, I am located approximately 150 km from the bottom of the Pyrenees. The weather here is very much like that of New England in the US with changes on quick basis. It used to be that we could count on the various French and Spanish weather predictions. I started to use US forecasts and for this area they are unfortunately often wrong.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Uh-huh. 😶

Just a three word reply:
Meteoblue. Or Windy.
That was nine words!!

I think there is probably a underlying problem, and that is that forecasting alpine weather is particularly difficult, conditions can change for the worse rapidly, even in summer, and walkers need to be prepared for that.
 
Last edited:
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
That was nine words
😇

Yes. That's exactly the issue.
There is also this:
 
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SirRon

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
May-July 2023
Yes, agreed! Don't start too early. You wouldn't be able to go into the room until "check in time" anyway. Not that I minded hanging out on the terrace ;)

But also - don't start too late as you must be checked in before dinner time (6pm) - at least - that was the case for Refuge Orisson when I went.
Late reply hah but this is my plan as well. Later start in SJPDP and then stop in Orisson (or Borda if I don't get a reply)
 

SuetoSantiago

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (August 31, 2022)
Hello I am going to walk camino from Roncevalles to Navarette . Can't do the whole thing and this is my 1st time. I have months to prep still and I am 61 in reasonably good shape .
I am considering starting in St Jean de Port
How difficult is the stretch from St Jean to Roncesvalles ?
Hi Michele. I had the same concerns and am 60, but the stretch over the P from SJPP to R was incredible! Actually, one if not my top favorite segment along the Frances! You can do it! I suggest staying the night in Orisson and then finishing to R the next day. My sister and I posted a very detailed video on our YouTube channel (Sisters 2 Santiago) that you can watch to see what it's like. Good luck and happy trails!
 

pepi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Last: Sept 2022
next 🤷
Response by ChatGPT Artificial Intelligence:
The stretch of the Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles is considered by many to be one of the most challenging sections of the entire Camino. This is due to a number of factors:
  1. Length: The distance from St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles is around 28km. This can be a long and tiring walk, especially if you are not used to long-distance hiking.
  2. Elevation gain: The route includes a significant amount of elevation gain, with several steep climbs and descents, including the famous Pyrenees mountain pass of Col de Lepoeder (1,192m). This can be challenging for people who are not used to hiking in mountainous terrain.
  3. Weather: The weather in the Pyrenees can be unpredictable, with the possibility of rain and cold temperatures, even in the summer months. This can make the walk more challenging, especially if you are not properly prepared.
  4. Terrain: The terrain can be rocky, with steep inclines and declines. This can be challenging for people who are not used to hiking on rocky trails.
That being said, many people successfully complete this section of the Camino, and it is a rewarding experience. It is important to take the necessary precautions, such as properly preparing for the hike and taking the time to acclimate to the altitude if necessary. It's also important to have good hiking shoes and equipment, to be well-rested and well-fed, and to be mindful of your own limits.
 

Tincatinker

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2012
acclimate to the altitude
🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 Oh dear, I wish my brain didn't work like it does. I had an instant vision of Base Camp at Honto; Camp 2 at Orisson, and eventually the brave summit party setting out from Camp 3 at the Collado de Bentartea. Dedicated Sherpa carrying the spare oxygen...

Still, I enjoyed the laugh. ChatGPT, you could be my new friend
 
The Way: Through a Field of Stars (audiobook)
A great book to listen to while training for the Camino or to relive the experience!

freespirit

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances - Lourdes v SJPDP - Santiago (June/July 2010) Camino Frances - SJPDP - Santiago (July/August 2015) Camino Frances - SJPDP - Santiago (June/July/August 2017)
I set off from sjpp last April with a guy who was 73 at the time. He found it steep and arduous, mostly because it's a steady climb for the first 2-3 hours. The climb is much less steep after orisson. He made it. Anyone can do it, not just Olympic athletes. Start walking hills now, with your pack. Take it slow. You'll be tired, but you'll be fine.
Hi all,, not being able to log in any ideas
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Hi all,, not being able to log in any ideas
The suppliers of the forum software introduced a bug where user names are now case sensitive. You may have been trying to login with an uppercase F. I don't think this bug is consistent across browsers. Also, I've been told a fix is on the way.

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Kasee

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Sept. 2022
I am a 68 yo woman and in decent shape but no athlete! If you’ve done any hiking at all with hills, you will find most of the Camino more of a walk, rather than a real hike. I started the last time woefully out of shape and with no practice prep. That first day is long but can be broken up at Orison. Take it slow, listen to your body, and IMHO you will be fine. Far more pilgrims fall to blisters than terrain! The standard book makes the daily walks look steep. But if you look at the actual elevation gain or loss, it’s not much. Very doable.
Totally agree. I was 64 when I did it and it wasn’t nearly as intimidating as I had had heard. Do some long, uphill training walks with your backpack and you’ll be able to better judge whether to break the day up or not. And IT IS BEAUTIFUL!
 

Marbe2

Active member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
That's why I suggest that those staying at Orisson or Borda don't get an early start.
Take your time in the morning in SJPDP - have a leisurely breakfast, look in the shops, etc. Then start walking after 11 am to arrive in the early afternoon.
First,if you decide to stay in Orisson or Borda, make reservations ASAP for August. You just can’t show up spontaneously, normally, and get a bunk.

Second, Trecile’s suggestion of leaving later in the morning is a good option , if you don’t want a bottom bunk. But if you do, Orrison usually opens up for beds after midday and by 2-3pm there won’t likely be many, if any, bottom bunks available.
 
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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I do love SJPDP. It has such a happy vibe during Camino season. I got stuck there for several days on one Camino while waiting for friends, and really enjoyed it. It seems a pity to arrive late and leave very early the next morning (as I did on my first camino). If you can, spend at least a few hours wandering around the place. For those staying at Orisson or Borda, I recommend leaving late in the morning. I can remember having breakfast, outside on a terrace, and watching pilgrims walk over the bridge. It was such fun to sit over a leisurely coffee and watch the excitement.
 

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