April 2009: We walked in the Route Napoleon in early April this year. We got up to the Cruceiro turn off but the snow was too heavy. We turned around on the advice of a shepherd bringing two 2 American pilgrims safely off the mountain as well as his sheep. The American's had started out too late the previous day and were caught out in the storm. Thankfully they had the gear to cope with an overnight on the mountain but were still pretty shaken.
We turned and descended back down to the valley on the Arneguy rd. So we ended up trudging up the valley route in rain/sleet/snow after all which was..... 'character building'!
I must say I have nothing but the fondest memories of Roncevalles and arriving there safe and sound felt like paradise.
Give it a bash but take on board any local advice. If the weather is tricky try to pair up with another pilgrim in SJPP so you can make sure that you have both 'checked in' on the other side.
- Shorter walking days as sunrise will be at about 8am and sunset at 18h00.
- If it snows, many of the markers and yellow arrows will be covered.
- You might have to walk on the roads which can be dangerous.
- Some of the albergues will be closed and many that remain open do not have heating.
- You will need warmer clothing (heavier) and more clothing to keep warm - larger backpack.
- You will need a winter sleeping bag and thermal underwear.
- There will be fewer pilgrims on the trails which could be a good thing on some routes, but risky on others.
- Many little cafes, bars and shops will be closed so you will need to carry more food than one does in summer.
- Many of the usual mountain scenes can be clouded in fogs and mist.
There are at least 15 official camino routes and variants in Spain. Some in the north will experience more severe winter conditions than those in the south. Some are quiet routes even in summer.
OCTOBER TO APRIL - WINTER WALKING INFO
November 2008 - O Cebreiro: : 10mins
Follow a couple of peregrinos as they walk their camino in November/December, wading through snow and blizzards.
The State Agency for Meteorology in Spain has reported that so far, this has been the coldest winter of the twenty-first century in Spain and the worst in 15 years. Blizzards, electricty failures, road closures and heavy snows have cut off and isolated many towns and villages. Many albergues, cafes, shops and restaurants have closed.
January 2009: Via de la Plata
January 2009 - winter photos:
January 24th - weather alerts:
February: Portugues route
Late February: Via de la Plata
5th March 2008.
Comments from pilgrims: