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SJPP to Roncesvalles 4 Les Autres

I have added this new thread as SJPP to Roncesvalles is worrying me a bit. It is where I want to start, which is daunting in itself, but it also seems to be a formidable stage?

I am a left-leg above-knee amputee and would appreciate as much info as possible about this stage please?

Many Thanks, Mark



New Member
Hi Mark,

I would greatly suggest that you plan a stop in Orrisson in this case. I did my Cammino last September and even though i am a regular tennis player i found it a bit hard to keep walking up to Rocesavalles éspecially in bad weather. One also has to take in consideration that i am used to sunny Malta and i am not a mountain person. However if you intend to stop at Orrisson make you that you make your reservations before because it gets full very quickly. It might sound a bit expensive at the beginning but it is worth the money because the place is clean, there is a 3 course meal in the evening and a very good breakfast in the morning!!

Buen Camino


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Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
The first 10kms is the worst - so it is good advice to stop at Orisson on the way up. This will leave you with about 15kms (9 miles) to walk the next day.
Consider sending your backpack ahead of you to lighten your load and keep your balance.
There is a similar service that pilgrims use to send backpacks up to O'Cebreiro instead of lugging them up the hill.
There is a refuge, a youth hostel and two inns in Roncesvalles so you will find accommodation even if it takes you all day to get there!
PS: And, the beers are cold!


Staff member
Donating Member
Sil wrote: And, the beers are cold!
Sil, I can read your mind...here's the hook let's see if Arn and Vinotinto bite!


The motivation to make it up the mountain from SJPDP is one thing, the responsible question is whether you have the physical ability and the time...both critical to your decision. Add in the possibility of bad weather and you have a mix fairly courting disaster.

Take the suggestions given-not with a grain of salt-but rather a sprinkle of common sense.

Buen up hill Camino,


I was really worried about this leg, and I kept getting as much information as possible. The most extreme seemed to be one man who took 15 hours to make it from Saint Jean to Roncesvalles. My travel partner and I had been walking a lot at home in the months prior to the trip, but we knew we weren't in the best of shape so we were worried. Most people said that it would take about 8 hours. When we finally did it, we took 13 hours, and it was grueling. This leg is really to be respected, and I agree with the advice to stay in Orisson. I will do it that way next time.
Hi again, thanks for the suggestions. Orisson is a definate, with my username (which is another story) I would have to. Looking at a map it looks like the path runs alongside a road. Could anyone advise whether, if the worst came to the worst, I could simply call a taxi to take me to Orisson? Also, am I correct in thinking that Orisson to Roncesvalles is not as arduous? Many Thanks


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Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Actually - I think that the first 10kms are the worst. But, that isn't to say that the remainder isn't arduous. Some pilgrims find the worst is going downhill to Roncesvalles.
If you are concerned about the terrain - you could take the road route (the original route) which passes through Val Carlos where you could stay overnight. It is also very scenic but doesn't reach the same elevation as the Route Napoleon.
.......I sometimes get words stuck in my head, some I'm sure I've never even heard of? Anyway, 'Orison' was pinballing around for a while. I looked it up and liked what I found. This was at a point in my life when I was at a crossroads and wasn't sure whether to walk The Camino or concentrate on writing? I liked the word orison so much that I decided to see if the domain name was available, which it wasn't. So I tried close variations, e.g. 'orizon' and the like, but nothing was available. Then I thought of 'oriSSon' and did a Google search..........only to find at the top of the page the hostel on the blinking camino! I was a bit more than slightly blown away and not surprisingly took it as a sign of which way to go.


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leon to Santiago (2006),
SJDP to Santiago (2009)
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CMD Maybe (Sept 2016)

I have been wondering for a while how to pronounce Roncesvalles ?


Planning walk for sept 2009


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Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Basically, the letter V in Spanish is pronounced as a soft 'b' and the letter C as a 'th' - so you could say "Ron-thes-bye-ess" The French call it Roncevaux.
Hi Mark,
I am new to the Camino (setting out myself from SJPP this July), but have been a physical therapist for 25 years, with lots of time devoted to amputees. I would recommend taking hiking sticks for hilly terrain if you do not already use some sort of assistive device. All the best, and I think we should feature you and your walk in an inspiring journal article for physical therapists!
Re: Better you take the Valcarlos Route

Hello Mark.
I would you strongly advise not to take the Napoleon Route. From SJPdP it goes so steep uphil like you climb a dyke! And after Orrisson you are in a total (beautiful) wildernes! there is NO paved road. Only a narrow path. There is nothing where you can get rescue if someting happens to you on this part of the trail. And you will be slower than the other pilgrims! So if you come in need there will nobody be around there to rescue you.
My strong advise: Take the Valcarlos Route. In case of emergency you can stop a passing car.
There is a backpack transport from SJPdP to Roncesvalles. Bourricot Express. But keep in mind: You will be the last pilgrim coming into Roncesvalles in the evening. All accomodations might be full! Better stay for a night at either at Arnegui (French) or at Valcarlos (spanish). In both places are ample accomodations.
Buen Camino


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Camino(s) past & future
Pilgrim's are very caring, so I am betting that an earlier arrival at the albergue will have pity on you and give up his/her bed. Don't worry.
I too am worried about the hike from SJPP to Orisson. What i've read the incline seems to be challenging. I've only been training for a month and I begin the Camino in May. Generally speaking i'm not an athletic sort and most of my physical activity consist of leisurely walks. Any advice out there? If I take it slow and have a light load how difficult will it be? Is there very many people don't make it to at least Orisson? Does the incline continue from Orisson to Roncevalles? Thanks for the info.


Is it me? I didn't think that the Napoleon Pass was so bad, actually, I thought it utterly wonderful ... - I mean, there isn't any climbing or scrambling is there.... you are on a well paved road for most of the upwards section, then through a pass and splendid views of mountains forever, and hovering Egyptian vultures and miles and miles of track and then a choice of two descents, one short that is scrambly in the wet, and one a little longer that is less steep.

I did it in one go from St. Jean, and, yes, I was tired - and there was one place where I lay and rested for perhaps an hour - and it did start to snow at one point (March) and I did get frighteningly cold at that point - but it wasn't Hannibal going over the Alps with elephants ... true, people die up there - but only in heavy snow or because of bad hearts and people die on the Meseta too, and in their beds at home.

Starting with Napoleon's whole army, with horses and cannons, and wagons, and the women and children that followed those armies, how many people have gone over the Napoleon Pass?
How many people of all ages, fit or not fit, slim or fat, young or old - ancient even, have left St. Jean in the dark, walked up past Orrison, over the top and down into Spain, arriving when it is still daylight and feeling so wonderful? And knowing "if I can do that - I can do anything! - the rest of the Camino? Bring it on!" How many?
A million? Two million?

There is so much fear. As you said, you are an amputee, you didn't say that you were disabled. The chances are that you are more fit than most of the people who start in St. Jean.

You will know your own fitness level, and how much you can do with your prosthetic - I say go for it.

Start early, take your time, take food and drink and a clear mind, and stroll over the Napoleon Pass into Spain. :wink:
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2009), Via Podiensis (2011), Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres (2014)
I was worried myself about the stretch from SJPP to Roncesavalles. It seems Orisson is the answer to my prayers! Thank you very much for the information.

Manny D

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