Photo Epic – A great day out in the Basque Country – Ascent and descent of Ernio

While holidaying in South West France, a stone’s throw from the French and Spanish Basque country, I took the opportunity to hook up with my riding buddies Carlos and Jorge for a back-country Basque ride on one of the local classics, just outside San Sebastian. I was to bring my camera along so Carlos and Jorge could write a piece for their local magazine.

It was to be a big mountain day. Monte Ernio. 1,000 metres high. One mountain. One ascent. One descent.

I have to say (as everyones does, but I mean it) this was one of the best all-round days I have had on a bike – a lot of climbing, but manageable. A fair bit of carrying, but all walkable. And an amazing 10 kilometre descent with a wide variety of trails thrown in – from steep sheer jagged rock, to UK style woodland flow. I wish I’d got more pictures through the beautiful sun-dappled, dusty woodland singletrack, but, you know…

All in all, a great day! i hope you enjoy the photos!

The ride starts from here, a typical Basque hostel on a hillside - ideal place to fill our water bladders for the long day ahead...
The ride starts from here, a typical Basque hostel (venta) on a hillside – ideal place to fill our water bladders for the long day ahead…
The first part of the climb is easy fire road with the summit always in sight, but seemingly a long way away. And a long way up!
The first part of the climb is easy fire road with the summit always in sight, but seemingly a long way away. And a long way up!
Stunning scenery is standard on this 'ruta!
Stunning scenery is standard on this ‘ruta’!
Carlos masters a tricky section
Carlos masters a tricky section
A nice bit of easy singletrack before the hiking starts...
A nice bit of easy singletrack before the hiking starts…
Up we go...
Up we go…
... and up...
… and up…
A brief respite to pass the cross's lucky hoops over us before the final ascent.
A brief respite to pass the cross’s lucky hoops over us before the final ascent.
Once at the top it's time to drink in the view and admire our climbing prowess...
Once at the top it’s time to drink in the view and admire our climbing prowess…
The Crosses at the the summit of Ernio
The Crosses at the the summit of Ernio.
Time to start heading down?
Time to start heading down?
One last view...
One last view…
The first part of the descent is a kilometre of uber-tech rock. I walked this particular bit. As ever, it's harder, rougher and steeper than Carlos and Jorge make it look!
The first part of the descent is a kilometre of uber-tech rock. I walked this particular bit. As ever, it’s harder, rougher and steeper than Carlos and Jorge make it look!
... and down...
… and down…
... and down...
… and down…
... and down... (love this shot!)
… and down… (love this shot!)
Wait for me guys!
Wait for me guys!
And lo and behold after the toughest kilometre is done, a restaurant appears serving the most delicious home cooked food!
And lo and behold after the toughest kilometre is done, a restaurant appears in the middle of nowhere, serving the most delicious home cooked food!
Lunch is served. Bacon egg and chips (with basque peppers). Best ever!
Lunch is served. Bacon egg and chips (with basque peppers). Best ever!
Yep, we've only come a kilometre
Yep, we’ve only come a kilometre
As we enter the woodlands we get a reminder of the remoteness of these superb natural trails. Sculpture by Carlos!
As we enter the woodlands we get a reminder of the remoteness of these superb natural trails. Sculpture by Carlos!
The terrain changes completely to fast flowy, rock and root strewn switchbacky awesomeness!
The terrain changes completely to fast flowy, rock and root strewn switchbacky awesomeness!
As usual, it's never tasted better (excuse the iPhone remote release!)
Finally at the bottom – a handily placed bar! As usual, it’s never tasted better (excuse the iPhone remote release!)
Adios Amigos - for now!
Adios Amigos – for now!
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