All tour information is user generated and although we try our best, we cannot guarantee its correctness. Always consult people with knowledge about the area and get a proper map. If in doubt, hire a guide!
In case you do this crossing by using public transport, the starting point of the route is the Porta – Pimorent SNCF train station, next to the south mouth of the Pimorent tunnel. You need to cross the Querol River through a bridge some 400m further from the toll for the tunnel to be able to reach the track (GR-7/107) that goes along the other bank. Otherwise, you can start from the village of Porta, where you need to drive under a railway bridge and continue until the parking, situated next to a bridge over the Querol River.
In either case, the route follows the dirt road that continues from this parking up to the Campcardós Valley. Follow it until its end. From there the path flanks the slope on the left bank and shortly after crosses the river in order to reach the gentler terrain in the other side.
The more it goes, the valley becomes wider and the Portella Blanca d’Andorra is soon visible. This is the pass that will let you cross to the Engaït Valley. The slopes on both sides of the pass are gentle, especially those on the W side. The descent doesn’t imply any difficulty, nevertheless, be careful with the lowest part of it, within the forest, where the slope is steeper and it’s often difficult to trace down the path. Alternatively, gaining some altitude, it is also possible to cross to the left bank of the river and ski through gentler slopes.
In both cases you’ll end up very close to the hut, next to the confluence of Engaït and Vallcivera rivers. Spend the night in the Cabana dels Esparvers, on the left bank of Vallcivera River, a bit further up the confluence, in a clearing of the forest. The hut itself is a bare stone construction with a wooden deck with capacity for six people. It’s very likely that you need the shovels in order to remove the snow in front of the entrance.
The next day, continue along the GR-11 through the forest on the left bank of the Vallcivera River. In some parts the track separates from the river in order to avoid steep sections.
Once out of the forest you’ll see the torrent that comes from Ríbuls Peak, under a rock needle located a bit to the W. Climb following the torrent, which crosses an area of big stone debris, where you need to find the best way up. When the inclination diminishes the torrent forks in two. It is possible to continue following either branch since both streams lead to a plateau situated below the peak. The one in the right is somewhat more direct. The last section to the summit is better handled by climbing the ridge that comes from the summit to the SE, which is less steep than the rest of the slope.
In the first part of the descent, maintain as much altitude as possible as you flank the S ridge of the peak, so that you can go beyond l’Illa Lake without having to use the poles too much. Continue the descent towards Bova Lake, from where you have to get out to the W instead of following the river that drains it. Turn then to the S and cross the Orris River (two ruined constructions next to the river), so that you maintain enough altitude to go down the woods of the slopes on the left bank of Madriu River.
Reach the river at a flat clearing. From there, follow the GR-11 track through the forest until Les Escaldes.
When you find the first paved road, keep following the GR along the river on the left-hand side until you reach the main road of the Valira d’Orient Valley. Note that the bus station is not on this road but on another one which is further below and which crosses the village.