Alto de Zuriza s(u)

This is one of several isolated, western Pyrenean foothill passes, that run parallel to the main ridge. They can be strung together in a day ride. The main attraction of this one is the rugged limestone canyon on the east side, and the equally rugged, narrow road.

I have used the pictures of panoramio and flickr contributors, as well as other web sites to illustrate this page. There are copyright notices and links  to all original pictures. My own pictures were on a computer, that was stolen at the train station Frankfurt Airport (model Acer Aspire One (serial# NUSGPAA01625101C947600F)

 

1.(00.0km,0500m)START-END WEST ALTERNATE: jct N240-A237
2.(02.3km,0510m)Sigues
3.(33.3km,0790m)START-END WEST: Isaba
4.(36.6km,0850m)profile turns right to Zuriza
5.(45.9km,1290m)TOP: Alto de Zuriza
6.(47.0km,1220m)profile turns right down canyon
7.(60.5km,0870m)START-END EAST: upper entrance to Anso
8.(85.4km,0640m)START-END EAST ALTERNATE: jct with N240 in Berdun


Approaches

From West.
I started the profile all the way down in the wide open valley of the Rio Veral. Up to point three the approach is the same for Port de Larrau and Col Pierre Saint-Martin. Past point 4 a hardly noticeable turnoff finally diverts from the main road to Col Pierre Saint Martin and climbs steeply up into a forested slope. A few rocky outcrops become visible above and I seem to remember a short natural stone tunnel. After another short workout the road levels out and leads out onto gentler pastures and meadows. On pictures this area is easily mistaken for the summit. As the slideshow indicates, this can be a great pastoral scene.

The real top is forested, but framed by trees with a nice view of high peaks to the west. I meet two mountain bikers here and we took youies of each other. That once was a popular practice before selfies exceeded them in popularity by a large margin; ... you know... you ask sombody nearby to take a picture of you with the scenery, and do the same for them.

From East. (described downwards) The profile does not continue to the village Zuriza, but takes a sharp right into the imposing entrance gates  limestone canyon. The best of the scenery starts now. This becomes apparent in the first moments of the descent. This road is very narrow and calling it paved is sometimes an overstatement. There is very little time to watch the road below when there is so much to see above.

Traffic can be quite a problem - not cars - I don't remember seeing any, but just like in one of the pictures in the slide show, I get caught in a huge flock of sheep. The sheep-dog looks just like the one in the picture, but I have to assume it's a different one. The road remains at the very bottom of the canyon, so that no special civil engineering efforts are required, outside of a small bridge or a small dirt parking lot to let cars pass in opposite direction. I take the most interesting pictures where the road extracts itself from the narrow limestone walls, a place to gain some perspective on what is above, instead of being caught in this crevasse. Also the light conditions improve with the downslope winds from the high Pyrenees. I am wondering if one or two of the pictures in the slideshow could have been take a little higher up, on the side of the canyon. But whatever light you get here plays the most important part in the visual story of this ride.

Copyright: Panoramio Contributor: Michael Steen piclink

Anso seems like it could be a pleasant tourist town. When I am there the cobbled streets and their natural stone buildings are deserted. I am the only costumer in the small grocery store and all I want is more bread for my still ample supply of salami. The town drapes over a long low ridge on the other side of the Rio Veral and make an interesting spectacle as the entire elongated town moves by the bicycle, rolling along at a convenient viewing height . All this makes it more interesting than just a "pleasant tourist town".

Below Anso the road becomes much wider and smoother - you could say it becomes just another regular run of the mill road. Only about three km below Hecho my route turns west over another low Pyrenean foothills pass, that parallels the  main ridge, and it just cries out to be compared to this one: Alto de Hecho (someteimes spelled without the H). But the profile continues back down into the valley and ends in the town of Bergun. I did not include any pictures of Bergun. But it would deserve its own slide show. It sits on top of a mesa near the middle of the valley. It is hard to imagine a better strategic position.


A Day on a Tour with this point as highest summit:

COMPLETELY PAVED:

( < Port de Larrau | Puerto de Cotefablo > )
Alto de Zuriza , Alto de Aisa , Alto Hecho : Isaba > Alto de Zuriza > Anso > Alto Hecho > Hecho with sightseeing detour > Jasa > Alto de Aisa > Aisa > down A2605 > Jaca with shopping and hostal search detours.
Notes: gps data is on stolen computer