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Weather predicament at SJPP - which route is safest?

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Readey

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Time of past OR future Camino
28th Sept 2022
Hello fellow pilgrims,

I’ve just arrived in SJPP and my plan was to set off for Roncesvalles tomorrow morning via the Napoleon route, potentially stopping at Orisson for the night.

However, the people at the pilgrim office have told me it is too dangerous to do the napoleon route until Sunday due to bad weather, and that the lower route is safer in the meantime.

BUT, having since spoken with my hospitalera, she has said that the people at the office are being too cautious and that the road route is much more dangerous because of the large vehicles at fast speeds (I’m also not too keen on the idea of this route).

I am therefore at a loss of what to do.

My current thinking is to wait in SJPP until Friday and set off for Orisson on that day (as the weather is apparently easing), and then to complete onto Roncesvalles on Saturday when the weather is expected to be much clearer.

Is anyone else in the same predicament?

What would you do if you were in this situation?

Thank you, as always! A x
 
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Always listen to the advice of the pilgrims Office! They have the best information about the weather and the circumstances. Yesterday afternoon two pilgrims had to be rescued by the bomberos (emergency) of Burguete because of undercooling.
The Valcarlos route has only a few stretches along the road, most of it goes off-road.
 
My current thinking is to wait in SJPP until Friday and set off for Orisson on that day (as the weather is apparently easing), and then to complete onto Roncesvalles on Saturday when the weather is expected to be much clearer. What would you do if you were in this situation?
I would always look at a detailed locally focused weather forecast myself and then decide while taking warnings from other sources into consideration. In the situation that you describe I would do what you write above, i.e. wait until Friday.


Col de Bentarte is the mountain pass of the Route Napoleon where you will walk. Note the orange warning for rain > 20 mm and note the hours of the day when rain is predicted. Note that it says: Weather anomaly: Unusually cool temperatures for this time of the year. Note that the forecast for Thursday and Friday has currently at the time of writing this post medium predictability and for Saturday high predictability.

Note the low cloud cover in the Meteogram section. People will walk in fog and rain and not see a thing.

You can also check the mountain pass for the Valcarlos route. It is called Puerto de Ibañeta.

Buen Camino!
 
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potentially stopping at Orisson for the night.
Do you have a reservation for Orisson and can you change it? Otherwise take the Valcarlos. Enjoy the historic pilgrim road. Rest in the Valcarlos Albergue and, on the following day, be careful at the Puerto de Ibañeta. It's elevation is not much below the Col de Bentarte and it can be a pretty rough hike in bad weather even though you have the kerb to guide you.
 
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The Napoleon Route is exciting because of the views - if it’s stormy (or even just foggy), it’s simply a hike no more exciting than any other. Choose the safe one as directed by the pilgrims’ office
 
Its more than 5 years since I walked the Valcarlos Route. The forecast for the Napoleon was very similar to the one above. The radar image was really an eye-opening. The walk to Valcarlos is a good warm up day walk. Supplies are available at a truck stop near the border and there are a couple of restaurants choice for an evening meal. I would count on 5 or maybe 6 hours to Roncesvalles and be aware that above 1150 metres expect rain and maybe some sleet. Buen Camino
 
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road route is much more dangerous because of the large vehicles at fast speeds (I’m also not too keen on the idea of this route).
Rubbish. There is some road walking, but mostly on quiet country roads- except for a short stretch after Valcarlos. Then the path goes away from the road altogether. It's gorgeous.
What would you do if you were in this situation?
Walk via Valcarlos, so long as I didn't have a paid booking at Orisson - and maybe even then.
 
Just a general note because you can frequently read that "the weather forecast was all wrong".

We are now well into Thursday but the Meteoblue forecast for today and for tomorrow is still marked as "medium predictability" - meaning that it could be a bit worse or a bit better in the end or that there is a shift in the timing or location of events happening. This is due to the fact that there are deviations between the various weather modelling systems. When you click on their multimodel link you see that they use 17 different weather forecast modellers. ECMWF (European system) and GFS (US system) are among the most important and well-known ones. Sometimes, but not often, there are significant differences between the short-term forecasts (3-7 days) of ECMWF and GFS. Some weather apps are based on only one such forecasting system.

FWIW.

The Pilgrim Office in SJPP uses https://www.viewweather.com/w1781825-weather-forecast-for-col_de_bentarte-spain_general_.html. The link is on the website of their association (https://www.aucoeurduchemin.org/meteo-682/) and if I remember correctly, they put a daily printout on their notice board in their welcome office.
 
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I'm supposed to be leaving SJPP on Saturday, with the weather forecast showing 'Very Stable'. If it stayed the same, would the Napoleon route be open? Or is there a problem with the wet ground from the days before?
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Or is there a problem with the wet ground from the days before?
@tommycamino, check with the SJPP pilgrim office. I would think that the volunteers will have been briefed by their local bosses and if it is one thing they know well then it is the current or likely condition of the trail and how pilgrims in general are likely to cope with it. Most of the Route Napoleon trail is on tarmac anyway. Buen Camino!
 
Hello fellow pilgrims,

I’ve just arrived in SJPP and my plan was to set off for Roncesvalles tomorrow morning via the Napoleon route, potentially stopping at Orisson for the night.

However, the people at the pilgrim office have told me it is too dangerous to do the napoleon route until Sunday due to bad weather, and that the lower route is safer in the meantime.

BUT, having since spoken with my hospitalera, she has said that the people at the office are being too cautious and that the road route is much more dangerous because of the large vehicles at fast speeds (I’m also not too keen on the idea of this route).

I am therefore at a loss of what to do.

My current thinking is to wait in SJPP until Friday and set off for Orisson on that day (as the weather is apparently easing), and then to complete onto Roncesvalles on Saturday when the weather is expected to be much clearer.

Is anyone else in the same predicament?

What would you do if you were in this situation?

Thank you, as always! A x
Probably too late @Readey, but I walked over Route Napoleon this morning from Orisson. It was cold, wet, windy...but I did it, and without any rain gear due to my jacket disappearing overnight at Orisson. To paraphrase John Brierley...Trust in God, but tether your expensive new raincoat 😄
 
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Probably too late @Readey, but I walked over Route Napoleon this morning from Orisson. It was cold, wet, windy...but I did it, and without any rain gear due to my jacket disappearing overnight at Orisson. To paraphrase John Brierley...Trust in God, but teather your expensive new raincoat 😄
@Enigma. Oh no! Are you serious?! Your raincoat was stolen? I’m glad to hear you made it nonetheless. And, @Enigma, were you in the shuttle bus yesterday afterall ? 🧐
 
@Enigma. Oh no! Are you serious?! Your raincoat was stolen? I’m glad to hear you made it nonetheless. And, @Enigma, were you in the shuttle bus yesterday afterall ? 🧐
@Readey the 2pm shuttle due to flight delays. Then a run up the hill. Sorry we didn't meet. Have a great camino :)
 
Weather can be very changeable in mountain conditions. What is listed for a future date as stable can be quite dangerous the next day. By far the best and most up to date information you will receive will be from the pilgrim office. Yes they may be overly cautious but do you want to be the pilgrim ignoring their advice if it really gets bad and worse than predicted?

Do you have a reservation at Orisson? If not, an overnight stop there may not be possible.
Walk via Valcarlos, so long as I didn't have a paid booking at Orisson - and maybe even then.
My current thinking is to wait in SJPP until Friday and set off for Orisson on that day
Do you have a reservation for Orisson and can you change it? Otherwise take the Valcarlos.


You have lots of experienced pilgrims giving you good advice to wait. If you do not have an Orisson reservation you may not be able to get a bed there. Check with the pilgrim office or call he albergue. Seven years ago I walked from Le Puy. The morning i was to leave SJPP the weather was miserable. It was raining hard and very chilly. My friend and I were staying right on the road the pilgrim office was on. We went outside and saw lots of pilgrims walking. A pilgrim we met having pizza the night before told us to hurry up and get ready to go. We told him we were going back to bed and if it is this bad in SJPP can you imagine what it will be like going up the mountain? We ended up staying in the wonderful Beilari albergue. Woke the next morning to clear skies and perfect walking temperatures. Armed with lots of pastries we bought the day before we had a great day. It helps that you tackle that mountain after you have already walked about 740K! We met a few people later on who had left that horrible morning. They said it was absolutely horrible the whole day.
 
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Hello fellow pilgrims,

I’ve just arrived in SJPP and my plan was to set off for Roncesvalles tomorrow morning via the Napoleon route, potentially stopping at Orisson for the night.

However, the people at the pilgrim office have told me it is too dangerous to do the napoleon route until Sunday due to bad weather, and that the lower route is safer in the meantime.

BUT, having since spoken with my hospitalera, she has said that the people at the office are being too cautious and that the road route is much more dangerous because of the large vehicles at fast speeds (I’m also not too keen on the idea of this route).

I am therefore at a loss of what to do.

My current thinking is to wait in SJPP until Friday and set off for Orisson on that day (as the weather is apparently easing), and then to complete onto Roncesvalles on Saturday when the weather is expected to be much clearer.

Is anyone else in the same predicament?

What would you do if you were in this situation?

Thank you, as always! A x
We just walked from SJPDP (Tue 9/27) to Borda, 1 km past Orisson, and it was continuously raining and windy all the way up. On the way to Roncesvalles from Borda, it was heavy horizontal rain with winds gusting to 80 kph. I could almost swear we got hit with sleet. It was really horrible and scary until we were in the forests just before Col Lepoeder. We were soaked, freezing, and really miserable. Take the word of caution, be safe, have a very good raincoat, layer up, wear waterproof socks and waterproof shoes, and use walking sticks. Buen Camino.
 
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Do you have a reservation at Orisson? If not, an overnight stop there may not be possible.
I am travelling from Ireland with my son to Barittz and then to SJPP and our flight was delayed twice and then cancelled until tomorrow morning . We had two beds booked at Orisson for tonight which J have cancelled but they wouldn’t give a refund inspite of the circumstances. Is anyone else effected by thus cancelled flight from Dublin?
 
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.
I walked napoleon route yestrday with lot of other polgrims despite the office warning. My suggestion is absolutely to wait better weather if you have the chance. The few pilgrims who took the lower route where also disappointed, lot of walking on the main road…
 
Probably too late @Readey, but I walked over Route Napoleon this morning from Orisson. It was cold, wet, windy...but I did it, and without any rain gear due to my jacket disappearing overnight at Orisson. To paraphrase John Brierley...Trust in God, but tether your expensive new raincoat 😄
What a bummer that some low life decided your raincoat was better than theirs or that they forget theirs. You should be able to get a suitable replacement in Pamplona. Buen Camino,.
 
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I am travelling from Ireland with my son to Barittz and then to SJPP and our flight was delayed twice and then cancelled until tomorrow morning . We had two beds booked at Orisson for tonight which J have cancelled but they wouldn’t give a refund inspite of the circumstances. Is anyone else effected by thus cancelled flight from Dublin?
Yes its a little known fact that they do not give refunds or rainchecks. You pays your money and you takes your chances. Cheers
 
Yes its a little known fact that they do not give refunds or rainchecks
I thought that it was quite well known that Orisson does not issue refunds. It's right on their home page.

Screenshot_20220929-162037.png

 
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Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
Hello fellow pilgrims,

I’ve just arrived in SJPP and my plan was to set off for Roncesvalles tomorrow morning via the Napoleon route, potentially stopping at Orisson for the night.

However, the people at the pilgrim office have told me it is too dangerous to do the napoleon route until Sunday due to bad weather, and that the lower route is safer in the meantime.

BUT, having since spoken with my hospitalera, she has said that the people at the office are being too cautious and that the road route is much more dangerous because of the large vehicles at fast speeds (I’m also not too keen on the idea of this route).

I am therefore at a loss of what to do.

My current thinking is to wait in SJPP until Friday and set off for Orisson on that day (as the weather is apparently easing), and then to complete onto Roncesvalles on Saturday when the weather is expected to be much clearer.

Is anyone else in the same predicament?

What would you do if you were in this situation?

Thank you, as always! A x
I was in a similar situation in April 2019. The Pilgrim Office put out a strongly worded warning. I decided to wait in SJPP two more days. On the day I had originally planned to start, they had to rescue 50 people off the mountain because of dense fog, zero visibility, and freezing conditions. Several were hospitalized. I waited 2 days and conditions then were perfect.
 
If you are going over the Napoleon, there is a shelter (and not a very big one) at Izandorre. I had to use it in September a few years ago due to the sudden change from sunshine to heavy showers.


As was said before, check with the Pilgrim Office and note where the shelter is, just in case.
 
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If the pilgrim's office says no, it's a "no".

The valcarlos is a nice alternative. Carry a flashlight and some reflective stuff for the short road walking section.

I guess the Napoleon can be walked even in winter and/or bad weather for someone with good mountaineering skills, but for the average pilgrims, one should stick to the given advice, even if the route is not closed for winter officially yet.

Those who say that the Valcarlos is dangerous and mainly road walking probably have never walked it or have for some reason missed all the signs leading off the main road and onto the nice hiking paths.
 
Because it's there
That's a reason. Not the best one.
But whatever.
Those who say that the Valcarlos is dangerous and mainly road walking probably have never walked it or have for some reason missed all the signs leading off the main road and onto the nice hiking paths.
Absolutely.
 
I was in a similar situation in April 2019. The Pilgrim Office put out a strongly worded warning. I decided to wait in SJPP two more days. On the day I had originally planned to start, they had to rescue 50 people off the mountain because of dense fog, zero visibility, and freezing conditions. Several were hospitalized. I waited 2 days and conditions then were perfect.
We were there too and fortunately had a booking at Orisson. Everyone else had to walk or taxi back down to SJPP by police order! Even next day was treacherous cold and windy— not pleasant!
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
We were there too and fortunately had a booking at Orisson. Everyone else had to walk or taxi back down to SJPP by police order! Even next day was treacherous cold and windy— not pleasant!
Do you refer to last Thursday or to how you remember events from three years ago, on 24 April 2019, when a group of about 20-25 pilgrims from Ireland (not 50) called for help and were transported by the local rescue team from the Lepoeder shelter in adverse weather conditions for which they were apparently neither equipped nor fit enough - low temperatures, snow, very strong wind gusts and blizzard like conditions? I don't think that the weather was quite like that yesterday and the day before.

BTW, anyone walking the Route Napoleon today? @Readey? From far away it looks like no rain, quite a bit of sunshine, not particularly windy, not cold and getting even warmer. Could you see the snow covered higher peaks of the Pyrenees further to the east?
 
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If you take the Napoleon route take the safer alternative for the descent into Roncesvalles at Col de Lepoeder

View attachment 133742
Trecile offers really sound advice. In May 2018 I crossed the Col in snow, sleet and rain. I couldn't locate the road route and so descended the trail through the forest which I had taken the year before without difficulty. But, this time the trail was wet and muddy. Not 50 meters from the top I slipped and took a tumble. I did a complete roll or two before I stopped. I wasn't injured badly -- just a cut on my knee from scraping the rocks, but I was lucky. Very lucky. The fall could have ended my Camino. If it's wet, take the road to Roncesvalles.
 
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Hello fellow pilgrims,

I’ve just arrived in SJPP and my plan was to set off for Roncesvalles tomorrow morning via the Napoleon route, potentially stopping at Orisson for the night.

However, the people at the pilgrim office have told me it is too dangerous to do the napoleon route until Sunday due to bad weather, and that the lower route is safer in the meantime.

BUT, having since spoken with my hospitalera, she has said that the people at the office are being too cautious and that the road route is much more dangerous because of the large vehicles at fast speeds (I’m also not too keen on the idea of this route).

I am therefore at a loss of what to do.

My current thinking is to wait in SJPP until Friday and set off for Orisson on that day (as the weather is apparently easing), and then to complete onto Roncesvalles on Saturday when the weather is expected to be much clearer.

Is anyone else in the same predicament?

What would you do if you were in this situation?

Thank you, as always! A x
The Valcarlos Route is lovely and there is only a very short stretch of road which wasn't busy when we left at dawn from Valcarlos. We stayed overnight in Valcarlos and found it a good warm-up day. It is mostly along lovely wooded trails and past some pretty villages. It was hot weather when we left and we appreciated the shaded walk. Those who walked the Napoleon that day didn't enjoy it as it was very windy and exposed.
 
In recent days there have been several rescues by the bomberos with hypothermia. One person got stuck at the shelter and couldn’t go on.

what cold weather gear have you got? WTerproof boots, gloves, hat, down jacket? If you are not ready for cold, wind and wet, that’s hypothermia territory.

Dont go against local advice. This is the very start of your Camino, you’ve miles and miles to go…
 
We just walked from SJPDP (Tue 9/27) to Borda, 1 km past Orisson, and it was continuously raining and windy all the way up. On the way to Roncesvalles from Borda, it was heavy horizontal rain with winds gusting to 80 kph. I could almost swear we got hit with sleet. It was really horrible and scary until we were in the forests just before Col Lepoeder. We were soaked, freezing, and really miserable. Take the word of caution, be safe, have a very good raincoat, layer up, wear waterproof socks and waterproof shoes, and use walking sticks. Buen Camino.
Sounds a lot like my hike up from Triacastela to Fonfría a few days ago, which I did in jeans, t-shirt, army boots, and woollen cape.

I wasn't miserable at all, it's a state of mind, not a consequence of weather.

Horizontal rain ? Ours at one point was going upwards ...
 
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I am travelling from Ireland with my son to Barittz and then to SJPP and our flight was delayed twice and then cancelled until tomorrow morning . We had two beds booked at Orisson for tonight which J have cancelled but they wouldn’t give a refund inspite of the circumstances. Is anyone else effected by thus cancelled flight from Dublin?
The same thing happened me last year travelling with my son travelling from Dublin. We were delayed one & 1/2 days. We also had accomodation booked in Orisson I contacted them and explained we hadn’t left Ireland they also cancelled the booking but would not refund the room! When we did eventually arrive in Barittz we couldn’t get a bus and ended up getting a taxi to Roncevalles at a cost of €200 we didn’t have a choice as we missed one days walking.
i’m joining the camino this year in Astoria to Sarria to close my gap and then Santiago to Finisterre depart Dublin Sept 4.
Buen camino
 
This thread was started in September 2022 because "bad weather" was predicted then for crossing the Pyrenees from SJPP to Roncesvalles. Now we are close to September 2023 and I had a look at the Meteoblue forecast for today and for the next few days on the Col de Bentarte, the top part of the Route Napoleon.

I could barely believe my eyes: The temperature is expected to peak between 12:00 and 15:00 with expected values of 30-32 ºC. What??? At 1314 metres above sea level in the Western Pyrenees???

There is currently a late summer heatwave moving over Spain, parts of France, Switzerland and Italy. I read in the news that the zero degree Celsius level in the Swiss Alps has reached a new record: as high as 5300 m which is a new record since they started recording these data in 1954. Yikes.

It will be over by Friday though.
 
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.
I could barely believe my eyes: The temperature is expected to peak between 12:00 and 15:00 with expected values of 30-32 ºC. What??? At 1314 metres above sea level in the Western Pyrenees???
A nearby mountain is at about the same latitude as the Route Napoleon and its peak isn't that much higher at 1,900 meters. Sunday saw three rescues. The wind chill was just below freezing with wind speeds at 90 kph and there was heavy rain. Ya gotta be careful in the mountains.
 
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