Some Tips for the Ring
Before starting out, consult the guides and check the weather conditions.
- It is very important to take a map, as the itinerary does not always have special signposting. However, there are usually some signs, such as painted waymarks, indicating a PR as well as milestones (small piles of stones on the roadsides).
- If you have organised the trek yourself, remember to book at the shelters more than 15 days in advance.
- The shelters can prepare you a picnic for the day; if you are going to need it, order it when you reach the shelter.
- There is a lack of water in Picos de Europa and you may only find it in the shelters. It is advisable for you to always take more water than you need during each stage.
- If you do not have sufficient experience in the mountains or you believe you are not prepared, hire a mountain guide.
- We advise you to be affiliated or have some sort of insurance.
- Dinners are served at the shelters at 8 o’clock in the evening; do not forget this.
- Always use adequate material and equipment. Do not overload your rucksack with unnecessary material. The pounds/kilos increase as the day goes on.
- Get fit and well prepared, train and get in the right frame of mind before starting off. You will enjoy it much more.
- If you suffer an accident, keep calm and inform 112 as soon as possible.
How does a shelter work?
- A mountain shelter is a sports facility adapted to its surrounding medium. They are always depopulated areas in the natural medium and in the majority of the cases in places that are difficult to access. It is a mountain SOS post and it takes in mountaineers to give them lodging and a short rest along their long road.
- Wardens manage the shelters, they are responsible for the radio station and communication in case of accidents or SOS in the mountains. They clean the premises, attend to the catering service provided, carry out the maintenance work and general upkeep of the shelter. In short, wardens are the cooks, the waiters, the dish-washers and the accountants; they also do building, plumbing or mechanical chores, and provide information about the routes, stops, state of the snow, etc. And they do all of this with a smile, or at least they try to.
- Shelters are usually very austere, but every year an attempt is made to improve them, for the benefit of all; the limited space of the dwelling offers collective accommodation. The rooms, dining-room, bathrooms and other amenities are shared, so respectful co-existence and tolerance are essential When you reach the shelter, introduce yourself to the warden, who will install you and tell you where to leave your rucksack and walking boots.
- Kitchen and dining room service. Do not forget that a shelter is not a restaurant and that there are few means to prepare the meals. There is only one dinner menu, but ask the warden when you book if there are any other options.
- The water supply in the shelters varies and depends on the location of the shelter. The water is generally harnessed from springs, lakes, streams, etc. The common standard in the Cantabrian mountain range is the lack of water in summer months, so respecting consumption is important There may be restrictions in summer due to lack of water and in winter due to freezing. The warden is responsible for controlling consumption, for the maintenance of the supply and for reviewing the quality of the water. The same occurs with the management and treatment of wastewater, showers and toilets.
- Energy independence. Only use what you need; the energy is consumed, produced and administered in the shelter: solar photovoltaic panels, fireplaces, stoves, gas… are the main supply sources, together with the emergency generator which can be used for a limited time. So be mindful that you are not in a village with normal supplies.
- The “Zona libre” is the area that remains open when the warden is away and the shelter is closed. Be respectful with the Zona libre and keep it clean and tidy. When the warden is at the shelter, the Zona libre forms part of its available places.
- Rubbish. There is no cleaning or waste collection service here, so take your rubbish away with you and leave it in the containers in the valley. The shelter waste is classified and treated to reduce its volume: compost is made with the organic matter, paper and board are incinerated and the rest is stored and taken to the valley by helicopter, at a high cost.
- Nature. Respect the flora and fauna; use the paths so as not to disturb the wildlife. Do not cause erosion by making holes in the paths or throwing rubble to make short-cuts. Do not make noises, sudden movements or shout, so as not to disturb the wild fauna. Keep dogs on a lead and far away from cattle. Warning! Dogs are forbidden in certain protected areas. A flower: look at it, smell it, but do not pull it up, this could endanger the survival of is species, and a broken flower does not grow back again. Fires are totally forbidden.
- The camping area. Ask the warden if you can camp and where; there are areas where camping is totally forbidden and only a certain number of tents are allowed in areas where camping is permitted.
- Respect the shelter animals They are not an attraction. They are also doing their work. They live there during the season and need tranquillity in their medium just like the rest of the fauna.
- Carriage. The shelters are supplied by the wardens Goods delivery vans do not get this far because of the difficult location and the snow. The shelters require infrastructures for provisions such as: helicopters, 4×4 vehicles, horses and in many cases, the warden’s back. That is why the prices of certain products consumed at the shelters may seem expensive, but do not forget where you are demanding a service and the costs entailed to serve you.