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snow storm in October?????


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I read an article about a pilgrim having died after he lost his way in a snow storm in the mountains (in April). I also read about the sunny and still warm days in autumn. My question is: How likely is snow at this time of year.
How much do I need to be prepared? I only wanted to bring a light weight Merino Jumper and a thin Merino shirt. Do I need a woolen cap in October? I'll start on the 5th October in SJPdP.
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Dorothee said:
How much do I need to be prepared? I only wanted to bring a light weight Merino Jumper and a thin Merino shirt. Do I need a woolen cap in October? I'll start on the 5th October in SJPdP.

I started October 6th, as I recall, in 2005 and only had a very light dusting of snow when I walked over O'cebreiro but that would have been closer to (or in)November since I also walked from SJPdPl. I walked in shorts every day and only used a thin pair of long pants in the evenings since I was not walking then and using movement to keep warm. But I had adequate clothing for the upper trunk of my body and kept that warm and dry always. I found the weather quite pleasant to walk in, if somewhat rainy, though. So, you should walk carrying clothing that you can add to or remove in layers. This way, when warm or hot, just walk in shorts and lightweight top. Towards the evenings or the further along you get towards late autumn, add more layers to what you have on. Layering is the key. You really don't require any very heavy article of cold weather gear when a few lighter weight articles of clothing suffice nicely instead, worn one on top of the other, in colder weather, or, strip down to the first layer in hot weather.
Going into the mountains without adequate clothing is dangerous as you pointed out yourself. Unless you know the weather will be clement what you have proposed seems inadequate. Some sort of waterproof cape or shell is necessary. Then as John says use layering.

When you get to SJPP check on the weather and if the locals advise that you take the road route follow their advice.

Buen Camino
Thank you all, that is very helpful and I will certainly "ask" (sign language because I don't speak French) the locals. Dorothee
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The etapa from SJPDP to Roncesvalles can be dangerous if you decide to walk it as any other "normal" etapa. In my opinion you have to prepare it more than usual.

If you begin to walk at, for example, 8:30, or 9:00, you possibly will arrive to Roncesvalles at 17:30 or earlier.

The pilgrim who died on april was lost with another group of pilgrims at 20:00 in the middle of mountain, and then he lose contact with them. Why, how? I don´t know. But when it's snowing, with bad weather, you have to go to Roncesvalles as soon as possible, if not you can ask any help with your mobile.

There's two ways to go. In the most beautiful and dangerous (by the mountain) there's an advertising. Don't take this way with bad weather. Be carefull.

This etapa can be so dangerous as others, you only have to know which are these etapas. First time I walk La Cruz de Ferro there were not albergue in Foncebadon. It was a hard etapa. When you pass the Cebreiro you have to walk more than 20 km over the 1000 mts high. But the Camino frances has a lot of yellow arrows. The Camino Sanabres is different. I had to walk on winter el Padornelo and el Alto de la Canda with a storm of snow last year (about 100 km over 900 mts high). No too arrows, no bars, nothing. In that conditions can be dangerous, but I knew it, so I prepared it. Something similar crossing el Puerto de la Fuenfria (Camino de Madrid) or, of course, El Camino Primitivo, Hospitales, El Acebo, El Palo, and so on.

In my opinion, in October possibly will not snow but ... be prepared. I waterproof cape must be enough, as William says.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
Hi Dorothee,
You mentioned the clothing you wanted to take. However it is really a matter of taking the clothing that the conditions may demand. Respect the mountains, remember that Astorga is 869m and you are climbing from there to over 1500m at the Cruz de Ferro, heading towards O Cebreiro y oudrop down but climb again to 1300m.
Respect the mountains, they are beautiful but unforgiving in poor conditions.
Buen Camino,
Dorothee the most practical advice has been given: take clothing that will work in layers, have an effective outer shell, make sure your body has "fuel" and check the weather report regularly - including asking the locals. If you are walking on your own especially in remote areas carry a mobile phone.

The Confraternity of St James has a very good booklet for Winter Pilgrims.

Also when I am walking in what could become wintry conditions I always carry a lightweight base layer of top and long johns - nowadays these "technical" clothes weigh next to nothing - expensive but a good investment. I'd advise you to take advice from a good supplier - explaining that weight is very important. As for the outer layer I'd advise you to look for a waterproof and windproof jacket that fully unzips under the arms to give maximum ventialtion when needed.

Buen Camino

I really didn't want to take a mobile phone. Thats the point for me: to leave all what seems to be considered necessary these days.
Otherwise I think I am well prepared. Dorothee
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Dorothee said:
I really didn't want to take a mobile phone. Thats the point for me: to leave all what seems to be considered necessary these days.
Otherwise I think I am well prepared. Dorothee
Dorothee... one of the things recommended here in NZ by Mountain Safety people, is that you could carry a small whistle. In times of poor visibility, the sound of a whistle carries more than a voice. As I plan to start in Le Puy mid-April when I might encounter some bad weather, I will probably take my small plastic whistle, for the first few weeks at least.
All the best for your Camino.
I understand the mobile phone point entirely but for me safety comes first - an alternative for some pilgrims is to buy a Spanish sim card or prepay phone - hence no incoming calls from "reality" but the comfort of always being able to dial 112! :)

Your call - so to speak.

Dorothee said:
Do I need a woolen cap in October? I'll start on the 5th October in SJPdP.

Hi Dorothee,
I've done the Camino twice in October/November and both times found myself walking into a strong, cold west wind from Burgos clear across the meseta to the montes de Leon. The weather had been warm till then and I was cursing the extra weight in clothes I was carrying, but that changed when the cold set in. If I hadn't had a cap with ear flaps to keep the wind out it would have been a miserable trek.
I also walked through blizzards on the way from Rabanal to El Acebo and again on the way to O Cebreiro. I didn't feel terribly cold, but that's because I was wearing five layers of clothing - undershirt, t-shirt, long-sleeve, sweater and shell. I wore them to bed too when I slept in the unheated refuge of Santa Catalina.
I'm not trying to discourage you. I loved walking through that blizzard, it's one of my fondest memories of the Camino. But only because I wasn't shivering through it. Do as others have suggested and bring clothing you can layer: cotton and light wools.
The nice thing about cold weather is that you don't have to carry a lot on your back; you're wearing it all!
Buen camino!
Hi Dorothee, I walked the Valcarlos Route in May a week or so after the pilgrim died on the mountain. It was very cold & raining that day & those on top of the mountain said they had snow, hail, sleet, rain, thunder, & lightning to deal with! The locals will tell you which way you should go in October, so listen to them. If there is a big red X on the Route Napoleon sign, then don´t go that way.

As for gear, silk long johns are the best. :)

Personally, I¨ve taken a mobile phone with me both times, & have only given the number to 2 people. That way, I know who it is when the phone rings & if I don´t recognize the number, I presume it´s a wrong one & don´t answer.

Buen Camino
Hi there,The guy who died in April was only 3kms from Roncevalles and safety.He was fifty years old,very fit and well dressed for the very cold conditions.He lost the route in a heavy snow blizzard.Many of the yellow arrows on this stretch are painted on rocks and trees and were covered by the snow.If he had sheltered he would have been uncomfortable but would have survived.
I walked the route one week later and the weather was glorious.
The point is that you should NEVER take liberties in the mountains.Even without snow you can quickly get into a dangerous condition by getting soaked in cold weather.
A whistle is an excellent idea and is actually the internationally recognised distress call---blow six times then wait for a minute then repeat.Go on until you get help.
A large sized poncho at least is necessary and it will also keep your backpack dry.A fleece is light and very warm when needed.They also dry quickly and are fairly inexpensive.
Hopefully the weather will be beautiful for you but you have to be prepared.
On the issue of the mobile phone,I have walked and climbed and toured a lot in Spain and have discovered that there are huge areas where a phone just will not work so don't just rely on getting help using your mobile.Very hit and miss.
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Yes mobile reception can be patchy but dialling the 112 emergency number seeks out and accesses all other available networks as well as your own and is therefore well worth trying. But of course by no means foolproof and other precautions must be taken.


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