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Three rescues on the Route Napoleon yesterday

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Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Time of past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
The Burguete bomberos had another busy day yesterday. Picking up two pilgrims with symptoms of hypothermia and exhaustion near the Lepoeder pass and another near the Croix de Thibault who was taken to the Burguete medical centre.

 
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The authorities close the pass until 1st April not solely because of treacherous conditions including blizzards that some eager hikers ignore.

They close the pass simply because a high proportion of people who walk it are unfit for the regular winter conditions and/or they bring unsuitable equipment/clothes/footwear.

After 1st April most of the trecherous conditions have passed but it still can be challenging. The ground is still cold and wet, night-time temps are Sub-Zero and daytime single digits. At least this time of the year the days are longer, extreme weather less likely and rescuers can reach injured/exhausted people without endangering their own safety.
 
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I wonder if these people checked in with the Pilgrim Office to get a weather report before they left SJPP. I would bet they did not.
 
I wonder if these people checked in with the Pilgrim Office to get a weather report before they left SJPP. I would bet they did not.
Even if they did, so many have no real understanding of how these conditions will affect them. They simply don’t have the experience to make an informed decision.
Fitness & health is a factor as well as time of year.
Exactly.

And, as @Antnix1 says, “they bring unsuitable equipment/clothes/footwear.”
 
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Even if they did, so many have no real understanding of how these conditions will affect them. They simply don’t have the experience to make an informed decision.

Exactly.

Or, as @Antnix1 says, “they bring unsuitable equipment/clothes/footwear.”
That is a very good point regarding a pilgrim's understanding. I wonder if the volunteers in the Pilgrim Office discuss how dangerous walking can be and if they have the experience and the proper clothes to protect themselves.
 
Right now, I'm in the beautiful fortified town of Lescar, looking across at the snow caps of the Pyrenees towards that other pass.. the Col du Somport, where I'm headed. It looks pretty as a picture.. and menacing in equal measure. Not somewhere I'd want to be stuck.

20240419_132213.jpg
 
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I left SJPP on 15th, although Pilgrims Office assured us pass was open, signs said Closed. Went back and rechecked with office and they assured us it was open. Stopped at Orisson that night (Lucky bed) Did the top on the16th. Very cold rain and strong winds. I could see unprepared people getting in trouble, but if THAT level of unprepared, probably shouldn't be on trail this time of year at all.

LOTS of people on trail. Beautiful weather leaving Pomplona today.
 
Even in the clearest, most perfect weather, hikers can get in trouble due to the elevation and lessened oxygen levels. This is especially true for those with a compromised respiratory system, but can easily affect residents used to living at low elevations or travelers suffering from jet lag. So many pilgrims want to fly long distances, travel immediately upon arrival, spend a fitful night of unrest in an SJPdP albergue, and then walk further than they ever have before to reach Roncesvalles without considering the impact that has on their physical health.
 
I left SJPP on 15th, although Pilgrims Office assured us pass was open, signs said Closed. Went back and rechecked with office and they assured us it was open.
That was very diligent of you! Did you get an explanation about this confusing and conflicting information?
 
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That was very diligent of you! Did you get an explanation about this confusing and conflicting information?
Not really. Something about when "they" decide to make final sign change for season.
My friend was worried because we had heard the scam about the big fines if the route was closed.
 
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That is a very good point regarding a pilgrim's understanding. I wonder if the volunteers in the Pilgrim Office discuss how dangerous walking can be and if they have the experience and the proper clothes to protect themselves.
They do and 2 years ago -exactly!- today, they closed the pass because of snow falls and very high winds. The conditions were horrendous.
Everyone had to go through Valcarlos. Except the few who had booked at Orisson or Borda and then we were checked for adequate clothing/ experience etc. I couldn’t fault them, they were brilliant.
 
When I read this about "they" having to close etc., I get a little provoked. Here at home we have mountain peaks of over 2400moh, and in so many places there are tourist buses full of inexperienced people. Who do you think pays for all the helicopters, first aid and rescues?
It's a political issue here at home, I understand that you don't think about it as long as the individual's travel insurance is OK. But don't take the help for granted.
 
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They do and 2 years ago -exactly!- today, they closed the pass because of snow falls and very high winds. The conditions were horrendous.
Everyone had to go through Valcarlos. Except the few who had booked at Orisson or Borda and then we were checked for adequate clothing/ experience etc. I couldn’t fault them, they were brilliant.
The people that support pilgrims in their journey are so wonderful. Thanks for letting us know.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
The Burguete bomberos had another busy day yesterday. Picking up two pilgrims with symptoms of hypothermia and exhaustion near the Lepoeder pass and another near the Croix de Thibault who was taken to the Burguete medical centre.

Hi all, 62 year old reasonably fit for my age on my first Camino. I walked the Napoleon Way out of SJPDP on Thursday 18th - by the time we reached the Croix de Thibault we had what I would describe as close to freezing rain blowing up the mountain by strong winds. It was a seriously tough day to start.
The hospilateros at Roncesvslles Abbey were nothing short of amazing - getting through washing after washing loads until late in the night. Please thank them personsllly for all they do & leave a little donation. It will be much appreciated.
In short I would advise to seriously check weather conditions before heading out on this stretch before leaving and only do it if you know you can cope with the conditions and your state of ability.
Buen Camino.
Steward
 
When I read this about "they" having to close etc., I get a little provoked. Here at home we have mountain peaks of over 2400moh, and in so many places there are tourist buses full of inexperienced people. Who do you think pays for all the helicopters, first aid and rescues?
It's a political issue here at home, I understand that you don't think about it as long as the individual's travel insurance is OK. But don't take the help for granted.
Obviously "they" means something different in Norway. "They" means "not me, somebody else, I don't know". Katar1na asked if I got an explanation for the discrepancy and the answer was clearly no explanation available.
 
@Bob P is right: He had asked why the Pilgrim Office told him and other pilgrims, and then confirmed again, that pilgrims were allowed to walk over the Bentarte/Lepoeder pass of the higher route while the sign down in SJPP said "closed". I very much guess it is the sign shown below. The Pilgrim Office told him "something about when 'they' decide to make final sign change for season".

My personal guess is that "they" refers to municipal employees who had not yet gotten around to adapt the sign to the season that had started on 1 April.

I've been thinking about this and the other recent thread. I share the commonly negative opinions about daytrippers who reach high mountain tops by mechanical means such as cable car, taxi, private car, or bus and then behave stupidly in a mountainous area in such a way that it endangers their health and their lives and that of others. This is not the case for the demographic on the Napoleon Route.

I do think that these freshly minted pilgrims are serious about their walking and in general not foolish or reckless by nature. Unfortunately, some do get into trouble and more often than not the reason is that they are unfit, unexperienced and uninformed (and there may be exceptions - accidents and unexpected health issues happen also to the fit, experienced and well informed). And it is this aspect where change and better information and more effective advice could be helpful.

Note: These recent incidents/rescue demands did not happen during November to March.

SJPP sign.jpg
 
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The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.

BTW, I can read and understand English, French, and Spanish and I can guess the one Basque word. Am I the only one who wonders about how information is communicated to an international pilgrims population here?

How many will know what the chemins de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle are, what the Voie du Puy - GR65 means, what Col de Bentarte and Port d'Ibañeta are and what suivre Balisage jacquaire means? Even Ronceveaux may not ring a bell.

I marvel at this sign whenever I see a photo. ☺️

(We walked past it in May but did not notice it at the time. It was attached to the fence of a house shortly after the town gate in SJPP).
 
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. Am I the only one who wonders about how information is communicated to an international pilgrims population.
My French and Spanish are minimal but I think the core meaning is fairly clear. For those who have even less linguistic ability than me then Google Translate and a phone camera should make it even clearer. Something I have done a number of times with totally incomprehensible (to me) signs and menus in Japanese and I have been deeply impressed with the results. But perhaps my expectations are too high - I have often been surprised at the number of people who have been unable to identify their own country in Spanish from the list on the Santiago pilgrim office registration page .
 
Stories like this amaze me. I live in a Colorado ski resort serviced by an incredible volunteer Search and Rescue group. Locals receive cell phone alerts when Mountain Rescue groups go out, as well as follow up messages on the outcome and ways to prevent future incidents. Costs are covered by donations and the local government costs are reimbursed by the state. I’ve seen military helicopters fly in to assist with rescues, too. Years ago, it was decided not to charge because they wanted those needed emergency services to call, despite the cost. As a long time local, it’s interesting to hear about the calls. Someone “cliffed out” while climbing the local 14ers or falling down a scree slope or breaking an ankle from a climbing fall is very different from the call I heard about recently where a tourist ran out of water and called Mountain Rescue. They not only wanted someone to bring them bottled water, but requested Fiji brand. Maybe every pilgrim visiting the SJPDP office could be given an information sheet in their preferred language, not just listing the Albergue and elevations, but safety information, including the location of the basic shelter on the route and a minimal bad weather gear list. Fiji water not included.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Google Translate
I know that online machine translation can get amazing usable results.

Just for the fun of it I downloaded the Google Translate app to my phone.

Result for French to English:

Routes of Saint-Jacques de Compostela
Ruy Route - GR65
Ronceveaux via the Col de Bentarte
FARM
Itinerary recommended by the Valcarlos Way and Ibaneta port
The "Farm" bit is of course a major fail here ☺️.

But I am not saying that this is a major issue, far from it, I am just saying that there could be some room for improvement for the benefit of those who come from far far away and are not experienced globetrotters and map readers - and may not even have a map, whether in paper form or in electronic form. I am just trying to put myself into their new pilgrim shoes and see this new world through their eyes. ☺️
 
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Someone “cliffed out” while climbing the local 14ers or falling down a scree slope or breaking an ankle from a climbing fall is very different from the call I heard about recently where a tourist ran out of water and called Mountain Rescue. They not only wanted someone to bring them bottled water, but requested Fiji brand.
Here in the UK we often read stories of people contacting the emergency services via the 999 phone service for very trivial reasons. I sometimes wonder about some of the callouts that the Burguete bomberos respond to on the Route Napoleon. Whether the people calling for help are genuinely exhausted and/or hypothermic or instead have just discovered the experience is more challenging and uncomfortable than they have expected. Of course the emergency services take their role seriously and will err on the side of caution.
 
I once walked from SJPP on May 1st. The day before in St. Jean was sunny and very warm for late April with people sitting on patios in tee shirts.

May 1 in SJPP in the early morning was overcast and chilly. After we passed Orisson it became bitter cold with overnight snow on the ground and freezing rain. The zippers on our coats and packs were frozen shut.
The little hut was very cold and crowded with some group that had started earlier from Orisson and did not know if they should go forward or turn back.

so.....always be prepared when walking the Napoleon in the Spring.
 
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The first edition came out in 2003 and has become the go-to-guide for many pilgrims over the years. It is shipping with a Pilgrim Passport (Credential) from the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
I admit, I was ill-prepared to hike the Napoleon last year. This is from my blog entry for that day:

". . . Somewhere near the summit of the pass it began feeling very Everest-like. I didn’t take pictures because it was freezing by that point. Where I didn’t find the ascent particularly overwhelming – I guess I was prepared for it, I did find the mountain pass pretty unnerving. I don’t know what I was thinking. Mmmm. Mountain pass, not MOUNTAIN PASS with an emergency shelter and numbered way markers. The wind was blowing hard and the rain was falling. At one point I thought – it’s too cold to be raining – and it turned into hail. And there was me in only a shirt, shorts and rain poncho. But as I walked I thought about how I did some preparation hikes in cold blowing snow, and it made me think that this one day sort of encapsulated my entire experience of the Chemin. . . "

This is a mild description of my experience, since my blog was being read by friends and family thousands of kilometres away - I did not want to worry them overly. But I took shelter in the emergency hut, where someone had already lit a fire. I stopped there for about 30 min, ate some food and stayed out of the wind long enough that I could feel my hands again. This experience occurred on day 38 of my hike. I was prepared for the climb, which it seems was all one hears about. Completely unprepared for the weather. Since I was returning to SJPdP that afternoon by taxi, all I had was a day pack with food, and my warm clothes were back at the gite. I hadn't checked into the Tourist Info at SJPdP.

I would say it's all too easy to get caught up in it all, and not be prepared. Even a notice board on leaving SJPdP with the current temperature at the top of the pass would have signaled to me to go back and get a coat.
 
I walked from Borda to Roncesvalles on Thursday April 18 and it was very cold with high winds, freezing rain/sleet, and very low visibility. We knew the weather was going to be bad, but it was worse than expected. Although well prepared I was still very cold - it was a bit of a catch 22 as I felt I was too cold to risk stopping. Despite gloves, my fingers were freezing, so I knew trying to open my pack and get out more clothes with numb fingers would take too long and I'd just get colder while stopped, and likely wet while trying to add more clothing under my goretex jacket. So I just powered on and kept moving. No lunch stop - nothing. Many people were in the same boat (well prepared but still very cold) and many were in much worse shape (unprepared and dangerously cold AND wet). Just a comment on ponchos - many people had poorly-fitting ponchos which barely covered their packs and left much of their back and lower body exposed in the driving wind and rain. Those who had Altus ponchos were very well-covered and protected. I would highly recommend going with the better, yes, more expensive Altus - how much is your safety worth?
We got to Roncesvalles VERY cold and wide-eyed and exhilarated. The hospitaleros did a good job of getting everyone checked in as quickly as possible.
Of course the next day to Zubiri was a blue sky day with hot sun beaming down on us. I know we appreciated it all the more, considering the prior day over the Pyrenees!
 
Thank you, @Smash123 and @arfajajc for your clear description of what the issues are and what the conditions were like last Wednesday and Thursday (17 and 18 April) on the high route from SJPP to Roncesvalles.

I kept a screenshot of the Meteoblue weather forecast for the Wednesday. The weather forecast for the Thursday was similar. This is for the Col de Bentarte on the Route Napoleon at 1314m. People not only need to see it, they ought to also understand what it means for them. Especially when they will already be tired when they arrive there after several hours of walking.
Meteoblue 17 April.jpg
PS: I can't remember when I took the screenshot. The predictability was still low (2 out of 4 dots), maybe because it was early or maybe the calculations of the various weather models were still somewhat unstable on the day itself. But it says clearly that it will be very windy, it will be wet, it will feel very cold (below freezing point).
 
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And below is the current forecast for this week. From Meteoblue and from Viewweather for the Col de Bentarte again. These are maximum and minimum temperatures. For the felt temperatures you need to look at the forecast for a single day - for today it will not feel warmer than 3ºC, despite the 8ºC max in the forecast.

It is always colder on the top of the route Napoleon at 1300 m altitude than on the route Napoleon in SJPP at 200 m altitude.

You can see the differences between the weather models used (note also the predictability / reliability factor) but it is certain that it will feel very cold again and it will be wet and you won't have great mountain views later in the week. And when you stop frequently because you are tired you will feel even colder. And when your clothes are wet from the sleet driven by the wind because your flimsy rain poncho barely covers your backpack you will also feel colder.

People believe that the pass will be somehow officially closed or that the locals will tell them but at best there will be warnings and recommendations and they are based on the weather forecasts that are online, in the newspaper and on TV.

Viewweather is linked on the website of the Pilgrim Office of SJPP.

Veiwweather and Meteoblue.jpg
 
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This may be one of the rescued walkers, looking to thank those involved.
 
This may be one of the rescued walkers, looking to thank those involved.
This refers to a different day, namely Friday April 12. The person writes on FB that he broke his leg (I got to the top of the mountain out of sjpdp (col de lepoeder?), then tripped and broke my leg). The photo that he posted shows a cloudless blue sky and great views.

The incidents mentioned at the start of this thread happened a week later, namely Thursday April 18 - when the weather was bad and when it had been predicted that it would be bad and how bad it would be.
 
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I once walked from SJPP on May 1st. The day before in St. Jean was sunny and very warm for late April with people sitting on patios in tee shirts.

May 1 in SJPP in the early morning was overcast and chilly. After we passed Orisson it became bitter cold with overnight snow on the ground and freezing rain. The zippers on our coats and packs were frozen shut.
The little hut was very cold and crowded with some group that had started earlier from Orisson and did not know if they should go forward or turn back.

so.....always be prepared when walking the Napoleon in the Spring.
Hi @grayland - I could have written this pretty much word for word for what happened to me on 3 May 2014. I set out from SJPP in the warmth of the sun. Things still ok at Orisson.Then, not too much later, I had to take shelter in the small hut for some time. I vividly recall one peregrina in tears - all I could do was offer her some chocolate. It was her first day and she too had set out in sunshine, not expecting this. I had walked from Le Puy so I was a bit 'hardened' by then - but, it was SO WINDY, SO WET and SO COLD! Things can change quickly. So, even if the forecast is good - as you say, always be prepared.
 
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I walked from Borda to Roncesvalles on Thursday April 18 and it was very cold with high winds, freezing rain/sleet, and very low visibility. We knew the weather was going to be bad, but it was worse than expected. Although well prepared I was still very cold - it was a bit of a catch 22 as I felt I was too cold to risk stopping
I did my crossing on May 9th or 10th last year, and felt exactly the same! It was too much of a risk to stop. I was glad of the emergency hut, which at the very least got me out of the wind while I took some food.
 
I did my crossing on May 9th or 10th last year, and felt exactly the same! It was too much of a risk to stop. I was glad of the emergency hut, which at the very least got me out of the wind while I took some food.
Unfortunately for us the hut was crammed full with no more room inside, and on the lee side outside (downwind), someone had decided to use it as a toilet, leaving feces out in the open. Quite disgraceful and not somewhere we wanted to stop to rest or for food.
 
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Below are the Viewweather and Meteoblue forecast for today for the Col de Bentarte (1300 m) on the Route Napoleon from SJPP to Roncesvalles.

The weather models used for their forecasts do not converge yet, hence the differences. But this is certain: It will be cold and it will feel even colder than the thermometer temperature on the higher parts of the Route Napoleon. Rain, sleet and even snow are to be reckoned with. If you wear trainers, your feet will feel icy in the slush and rain. If you don't have appropriate rain protection, your clothes will get wet and you will feel colder and colder. It gets even colder the later it is in the afternoon and the closer you are to the time of sunset. Tomorrow will be similar.

Let's just hope that there will be no need for the rescue teams to pick up pilgrims again on their first day and that people with no or little experience in this environment will be sensible enough to postpone for a day or two or walk via Valcarlos which is a lower route and where you can more easily call a taxi to pick you up if you do not want to or cannot walk on because you feel too exhausted and cold and wet to continue.

Meteoblue.jpg

Viewweather.jpg
 
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I once walked from SJPP on May 1st. The day before in St. Jean was sunny and very warm for late April with people sitting on patios in tee shirts.

May 1 in SJPP in the early morning was overcast and chilly. After we passed Orisson it became bitter cold with overnight snow on the ground and freezing rain. The zippers on our coats and packs were frozen shut.
The little hut was very cold and crowded with some group that had started earlier from Orisson and did not know if they should go forward or turn back.

so.....always be prepared when walking the Napoleon in the Spring.
Yo just mentioned on another thread, beautiful clear day yesterday leaving Sjpdp and snowing on the way to Roncesvalles today.
 

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Some rare video footage, about 5 minutes, in an article of today on ABC.es: Pilgrims who are not only walking past Ibañeta (Valcarlos route) in fog and snow but also pilgrims who are walking from the Lepoeder pass (Napoleon route) in fog and snow down to Roncesvalles.

From the way they walk one can tell who is experienced in such an environment and who is not.


Screenshot:
Lepoeder 23 April.jpg
 
As we all know, weather in the mountains is unpredictable.
I crossed in late April one year, with a bit of snow still on the ground, blue skies and had a wonderful walk.

Couple of years later, almost to the day, I crossed with Pat my wife.
Low cloud, and limited visibility.
Strong winds, driving rain, very cold........

We agreed crossing over the top, we would not stop.
We would just lose too much body heat.
Chocolate bars and the right clothing kept us warm and dry..........

Amazing how the weather can differ.
For new Pilgrims.........Be prepared! 👍
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
As we all know, weather in the mountains is unpredictable.
I agree with much of your post but weather in the mountains is not unpredictable. It can change quickly which is something different but even then within limits. The temperature will not rise from 1 ºC to 25 ºC within minutes, not even within an hour.

The low temperatures in recent days had been predicted by the weather models. The likelihood of precipitation was known. Wind chill factor, wind gusts - also predicted although there is always a bit of variations to one side or the other. It does not mean that the weather forecast was wrong, as one can read so often. That it gets colder - compared to the valley - the higher one climbs and that this is a significant factor when you climb for 1000+ meters has been a known fact for what? Centuries?

Pilgrims being uninformed and unprepared is a factor in many of these rescue reports.
 
I agree with much of your post but weather in the mountains is not unpredictable. It can change quickly which is something different but even then within limits. The temperature will not rise from 1 ºC to 25 ºC within minutes, not even within an hour.

The low temperatures in recent days had been predicted by the weather models. The likelihood of precipitation was known. Wind chill factor, wind gusts - also predicted although there is always a bit of variations to one side or the other. It does not mean that the weather forecast was wrong, as one can read so often. That it gets colder - compared to the valley - the higher one climbs and that this is a significant factor when you climb for 1000+ meters has been a known fact for what? Centuries?

Pilgrims being uninformed and unprepared is a factor in many of these rescue reports.

I agree 100%
The weather reports on both crossings I mentioned were fairly accurate.
But local weather 'on the day', rain, cloud temperature can change quite quickly.
i.e. Low cloud can come in and change the environment quite quickly. (though not by 25C !)

My point was merely, that at the the same time of the year, in different years, the weather was very different!
So keeping up to date with weather reports is essential.

I think what catches new Pilgrims out..........is how the weather changes with altitude.
'On the top' is very different to down below in the valley!
 
BTW, this current "cold snap" is coming to an end now.

It is nothing unusual for April in this part of the world, and its effects were not only felt and seen on the Route Napoleon but in large parts of France, Germany, Switzerland and the Benelux countries. It is due to air from the Arctic which is why the wind direction in the weather forecasts was shown as ⬇️N during the last few days ... 😊

In Spanish, this typical weather situation is called a DANA - Depresión Aislada en Niveles Altos. It is also known as gota fría which translates literally as cold drop.
 
A guide to speaking Spanish on the Camino - enrich your pilgrim experience.
Even in the clearest, most perfect weather, hikers can get in trouble due to the elevation and lessened oxygen levels. This is especially true for those with a compromised respiratory system, but can easily affect residents used to living at low elevations or travelers suffering from jet lag. So many pilgrims want to fly long distances, travel immediately upon arrival, spend a fitful night of unrest in an SJPdP albergue, and then walk further than they ever have before to reach Roncesvalles without considering the impact that has on their physical health.
I agree with most of what you say, especially starting already tired. That said, the oxygen level is not really a problem going over a fairly low pass. A bit over 1000 metres for St Jean pied de Port, rather more for Somport. There is an article on wiki https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_high_altitude_on_humans
Most aircraft are only pressurised to around 2000m though admittedly you aren't walking.
 
That's a 24⁰ range. The record is 27⁰ in two minutes due to a Chinook wind, a downhill warming of the wind. 😯

To be fair, there is a fair bit of distance both physically and perhaps meteorologically between the Cize Pass and South Dakota.
 
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That's a 24⁰ range. The record is 27⁰ in two minutes due to a Chinook wind, a downhill warming of the wind.
I knew that extreme temperature drops (or rises) can happen when I wrote my post. I was writing in the context of "weather in the mountains is unpredictable".

I am happy to be corrected but from a quick look on the net, Spearfish, South Dakota, USA does not look like what I understand by "in the mountains" to me.

PS: I see that Chinook winds are Foehn winds. Foehn winds are a widely known phenomenon on the north side of the Alps. Spelled Föhn in German.
 
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BTW, this current "cold snap" is coming to an end now.

It is nothing unusual for April in this part of the world,
I remember reading one year that there was snow on the Napoleon route in June!
Both times that I crossed in May it was cold and wet.
 
The point that I’ve been trying to make, perhaps not very successfully, is that none of this - very strong wind or wind gusts, very cold temperatures, a lot of rain, a bit of snow, very low clouds and fog - come out of the blue on the passes of the Route Napoleon. At the very least on the evening of the coming day one can have a pretty good idea of what it is going to be like the next day and can postpone for a day or two or start in Roncesvalles or Pamplona instead of SJPP or buy at least a warm hat, an extra layer of clothes and a pair of gloves in the well stocked shops in SJPP if one had not considered this option at home …
 
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When one watches the behaviours on the Lepoeder pass seen in the EFE video, one understands better why there are these "rescue" operations. This is not a dangerous mountains situation as it is commonly understood. Nobody would dream of speaking about closing such a trail to the right and left in the Pyrenees or in the Alps, let alone actually have it closed by some authority or other during April to October.

What I see in the video are persons who move relatively fast and confident; quickly consult their mobile phone to see where they are and where to go; descend fast with legs apart, making short zig-zags, quickly assessing where to put the foot next, using poles on both sides to assist a bit with balance. Then there others who, I don't know how to describe it in English, totter downhill, hesitant, feet close together and parallel, with both poles ahead of their bodies stuck into the soil, slipping even, and not knowing where to go, is it this way or that way, walking forwards a bit along the road and then backwards again, they may have been given the sheet with the detailed illustrated map as a handout in SJPP but now it is in the backpack and with the weather it is too inconvenient to get it out and look at it. One pilgrim walker wears a summer strawhat and another one wears shorts and has bare legs.

I am not dissing these people personally. They made it to the Lepoeder pass in one piece and under their own steam and they did not need the Burguete Bomberos. But I think it is symptomatic.

Of course now someone will come along and explain how much that strawhat warms in wintery conditions or that it is better than nothing, and the pilgrim with the bare legs will be from England, Wales or Scotland and has worn shorts in April since he was a small boy in kindergarten and he is not going to change his habit for one day on the Route Napoleon or he prefers that his skin gets wet by snow, rain and hail instead of the legs of any long trousers getting wet and clinging to his skin.

🙃
 
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By it's very nature this is going to happen - the sheer volume of people of mixed fitness/abilities/ages/nationalities dictate this. And as has been pointed out it is not always their bad planning at fault, there can be a myriad of factors. Should everyone require high mountain training certificates to undertake that first day out of SJPdP to be able to deal with any extreme conditions - not feasible. A degree of sensibleness and remaining informed is best, but even then you can get caught out.

In the mountains of NW Spain there are numerous rescues (most via helicopter) every weekend, sometimes of very experienced people and sometimes of stupid people, it's not specific to pilgrims doing stuff they shouldn't.
 
When one watches the behaviours on the Lepoeder pass seen in the EFE video, one understands better why there are these "rescue" operations. This is not a dangerous mountains situation as it is commonly understood. Nobody would dream of speaking about closing such a trail to the right and left in the Pyrenees or in the Alps, let alone actually have it closed by some authority or other during April to October.

What I see in the video are persons who move relatively fast and confident; quickly consult their mobile phone to see where they are and where to go; descend fast with legs apart, making short zig-zags, quickly assessing where to put the foot next, using poles on both sides to assist a bit with balance. Then there others who, I don't know how to describe it in English, totter downhill, hesitant, feet close together and parallel, with both poles ahead of their bodies stuck into the soil, slipping even, and not knowing where to go, is it this way or that way, walking forwards a bit along the road and then backwards again, they may have been given the sheet with the detailed illustrated map as a handout in SJPP but now it is in the backpack and with the weather it is too inconvenient to get it out and look at it. One pilgrim walker wears a summer strawhat and another one wears shorts and has bare legs.

I am not dissing these people personally. They made it to the Lepoeder pass in one piece and under their own steam and they did not need the Burguete Bomberos. But I think it is symptomatic.

Of course now someone will come along and explain how much that strawhat warms in wintery conditions or that it is better than nothing, and the pilgrim with the bare legs will be from England, Wales or Scotland and has worn shorts in April since he was a small boy in kindergarten and he is not going to change his habit for one day on the Route Napoleon or he prefers that his skin gets wet by snow, rain and hail instead of the legs of any long trousers getting wet and clinging to his skin.

🙃
Dare I?
Oh what the hell...
🤣
 

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It is so disappointing that *the pilgrim with bare legs will be from England, Wales or Scotland" and nowhere else.
To be expected but disappointing nonetheless.
Family insider joke about how small kids are dressed in March and April and difference between two or three countries. Nothing to take too seriously.
 
It is so disappointing that *the pilgrim with bare legs will be from England, Wales or Scotland" and nowhere else.
To be expected but disappointing nonetheless.
No we have them here in the US as well. Usually teenaged or college-aged boys who also don't bother with a coat either. I see them daily as I walk to work on my university campus. I am dressed in puffy coat, buff, ear band, gloves, long pants, etc and they are marching along in the cold Wyoming wind dressed for the beach.
 
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No we have them here in the US as well. Usually teenaged or college-aged boys who also don't bother with a coat either. I see them daily as I walk to work on my university campus. I am dressed in puffy coat, buff, ear band, gloves, long pants, etc and they are marching along in the cold Wyoming wind dressed for the beach.
You no doubt do, as every nation does.
It is nice not to stereotype by nationality on an International forum.
 
Gary Larson from the Far Side ... never fails to make me laugh. 🤣
I wanted to add something but I did not have time earlier. I find the cartoon very funny but I'd like to say again that I don't want to imply that people are stupid but rather that they are uninformed and don't properly assess the implications for themselves.

They are on their first day, in a climate and geography that they may be very unfamiliar with, they have been told and read that they don't need a map (just follow the yellow arrows), they don't need a weather app (look out of the window in the morning to see and anyway pilgrims walk in all weather) and they don't need to carry food (bars are everywhere). It usually works fine for them to follow this advice. But not always on the first day out of SJPP - which can be a very long day for some and they are not aware of how long it will actually take them to get to Roncesvalles.

I saw a recent comment from Roncesvalles (transl.): [I am here], in Roncesvalles, seeing the pilgrims arrive. The poor people come in freezing cold, in very bad shape, often without having been able to eat because they had no place to sit down for a moment and eat a sandwich, and many of them without even being able to drink a little water. When the weather is bad, it is much better to come through Valcarlos.

I had not even thought of that. I always carry some food in my backpack, no matter what and where. But, yes, if you don't carry anything or you are so cold that you can't stop and there is nowhere to sit down (I often carry a small isolating mat to sit on ☺️) then you may well not eat and drink all day.

Which made me wonder: Does the guy with the food stall / van near the Croix Thibault even drive up on days when the weather is very bad?
 
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Which made me wonder: Does the guy with the food stall / van near the Croix Thibault even drive up on days when the weather is very bad?
It was cold, windy and very rainy last year when I crossed, and he was there.
 
Just saw it on the Bomberos' Twitter account: To the 3 from last Friday we can now add 4 from today. They worded it like this (transl.): This Thursday afternoon we attended to four pilgrims at #Lepoeder who could not continue the journey due to difficult weather conditions.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I did not intend to say anything else about the bare knees in the snowy scenes on the Lepoeder pass, but for what it is worth: I was not thinking in nationalities but rather in geographies and regions with a mild moderate maritime climate where it rains a lot and where it does not get very hot very often and small public school boys wear shorts and grown men were skirts in such climatic conditions. Then I thought, ok let's add the third region on the island, they have the same climate although I know nothing about their clothing traditions. :cool:

Everybody else who lives in similar climes where it does not snow a lot during winter months and males walk with bare knees all year round - please feel included in my comment. 😘
 
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