Gorbeia Natural Park

 

Location of Itxina

Itxina is a unique place located NW of the Gorbeia Mountain Massif, with an average altitude of 1,100 metros and a perimeter of 12 km.

Beginning at Pagomakurre (883 m), access to Itxina is via Kargaleku pass, from where one can walk carefully to Ojo de Atxulaur or Itxingote pass, close to Altipitatz (or Altupetatz) (1,172 m).
The eye of Atxular

The wide and stony path begins in the car park located opposite the hostal and the hermitage. A gentle (35 min) ascent takes us to Arraba access (1,073 m). Halfway up the path we leave behind the crossroad of the old ascent via Zanburu, which is a difficult, even dangerous walk in fog or snow, and suitable only for experienced mountaineers familiar with this area.

The double row of birch trees planted in 1984 have hardly grown, they are, however, useful for pointing the way toward Aldape and Eguiriñao pass. We must now veer right to take the route that goes down to the Gangueen shelter. The path leads us to the ruins of a tuberculosis sanatorium which was in operation around 1904.

After an easy walk over grassy terrain, we skirt the water-logged hollow at Uretzar, and ascend the initial ramps of Kargaleku pass (1,111 m) separating the Arteta crags (50 min). The path that traverses Itxina labyrinth toward Atxulaur begins there.

Route

Although there is only a partial view from Kargaleku, the view from Itxina is much better in comparison. The terrain is surprisingly rocky, as the sundry crevices are camouflaged by the numerous beech trees. The area was deforested until the end of the 20th century, but with charcoal making a thing of the past the forest has grown back to its former dimension covering the stony precipice.

Altipitatz is easily recognisable as it is opposite Kargaleku. In order to reach it, we must take the path which skirts Kargaleku Trokea on the right. The red and white markings make it easy to follow.

We reach Atxeko Iturri Hill (1hr 15min) after following the rising and falling path and traversing some beech groves. Opposite we see the summit (optional) of Ederra-Iturriko Puntie (1,135 m). Despite its name in Basque, Iturri, there is in fact no fountain to be found. The fountain in the area is Lexardi Trokea well (35 min. from this point) on the path to Ojo de Atxulaur. Note that the quality of the water is low.

To the left this hill we see the ruins of a tin roof shack, surrounded by beech trees on the way to Altipitatz. There is a narrow path traversing rocky ground, although one loses the path in places, it takes us to the crest (1hr 55min) where we can see the remains of a former summit box. Careful attention is required while traversing this path due to its level of difficulty, and in places, the extra assistance of one’s hands is requisite.

At the foot of the mountain, we find the wide hollow of Itxingote Trokea with excellent views of Orozko and Lekanda. There are two options to return to Kargaleku. The first is to descend via rocky grounds until Itxingote where there is a spring, and from there return to Arraba by following an unclear path. It is simpler, however, to retrace one’s steps back down via Kargaleku (2hr 40min), Arraba bogs (2hr 46min), Arrabakoate (3hr) and descend to Pagomakurre (3hr 35min). Four hours including stops.