The Pyrenees add another peak of 3,000 meters

The list of mountains over three thousand meters high in the Pyrenees is dynamic due to the updating of measurements, with more precise technology, of the peaks in doubt.

Thomas Osborne
Thomas Osborne
17 October 2022 Monday 08:36
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The Pyrenees add another peak of 3,000 meters

The list of mountains over three thousand meters high in the Pyrenees is dynamic due to the updating of measurements, with more precise technology, of the peaks in doubt. One of the peaks in question is that of Arnales, in Aragon, which according to the maps of the National Geographic Institute (IGN) rises 2,996 meters, although the Aragonese IGEAR rounded its height to 3,000. It was the Sostremetries team, made up of five Catalan topographers, who organized an expedition this summer to publicize one of the facets of their work to clarify the dilemma. His conclusion is that it measures 3,001.37 meters.

One of the three thousand lists that mountaineers take as a reference is the Ghostbusters, a group of lovers of the Pyrenees created in 2007 to verify the altitudes of the mountains about which there is some doubt. The criteria they follow is the one set by the late Juan Buyse, who coordinated a complete investigation that gave birth, in 1990, to the book Los tresmiles del Pirineo (Martínez Roca). Buyse, a Belgian businessman based in Priorat, who neatly portrays the journalist and writer Toni Orenzanz in El nazi de Siurana, proposed 212 peaks in his record. The author determined that in order for a needle, an outcrop or some protrusion to be worthy of being considered three-thousanders, they must meet several requirements, the essential being that they guarantee a minimum difference in level of ten meters between the summit and the access passes to it.

Applying this premise, and always taking Buyse's work as a reference, the Ghostbusters have been incorporating and removing spikes from the Belgian's inventory. The latest update indicates 124 main peaks and 92 secondary peaks, a total of 216, to which Arnales will most likely be added. The latest addition has been the Punta de la Brecha Superior de Llosás, which, according to the measurements of the Ghostbusters, proves 3,095.72 meters.

The authors of the research in the Arnales, Oriol Boixareu, Marc Calaff, Salvador Sala, David Segura and Andreu Alvarruiz, can affirm without any doubt that this summit exceeds 3,000 meters. The group organized an expedition on July 31 to ascend it, taking with it an optical level and a dual-frequency GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) receiver, with a very small margin of error. Once at the top, they set up a tripod with an antenna that received data from the satellites to determine the altitude. This information was subjected to what topographers call "differential corrections" to compare the measurement with the observations issued by ground stations in Aragon.

The result that it gave in situ was 3,001.56 meters, which in subsequent weeks and with more calculations was lowered to the aforementioned 3,001.37, with a precision of seven centimeters. Sostremetries will present the results of its investigations on November 4 at the Fira de Muntanya de Vic. The Arnales rises as the culminating point of three edges and, therefore, according to the rules established by Buyse, it is a main peak; not so the nearby needle of the same name, higher, 3,034 meters, but secondary, since it only has two edges, detail those of Sostremetries.

Carles Giné-Janer, from the Ghostbusters, comments that once they have the Arnales report, they will most likely add it to their list, which will have 217 three-thousanders throughout the Pyrenees.

Everything suggests that in the coming months or years there will be more news. Giné-Janer explains that in the Vignemale area there are two or three heights that could exceed the 3,000 meter barrier and meet the conditions to be included in the Ghostbusters catalogue.

Throughout history, different lists have been published with disparate figures of three thousand. Buyse, in his monumental study, fantasizes about the idea that Count Henry Russell, a movie character and pioneer of the Pyrenees, could have been the first to promote a list of peaks over 3,000 meters. In any case, Buyse considers that the oldest catalog on record is the one published by the Unió Excursionista de Catalunya in 1935, which determined 41 peaks.