Definitions

Aitzkorri

Aitzkorri

Aitzkorri or Aitzgorri or Aizkorri (IPA: [ais'kori], meaning in Basque 'bare stone', literally 'red stone') is a massif, the highest one of the Basque Autonomous Community with 1,551 m AMSL at its highest point (peak Aitxuri, meaning 'white stone'). The massif is formed by a crest of limestone summits aligned north-west to south-east all in a row at the south of the Gipuzkoa Province, namely Artzanburu, Andreaitz, Arbelaitz (1,513 m), Iraule (1,511 m), Aitxuri, Aketegi (1,549 m) and Aizkorri (1,528 m). Despite its slightly lower height, this summit is the most popular one. The mountain range is delimited at either end by the Biozkornia and San Adrian passes. On the one end the massif stretches west to the Aloña massif, on the other one to the Altzania massif (highest summit Aratz). The major Madrid-Irun railway cuts its way through the northern steep slopes of the mountain range, with two train stops, ie Otzaurte and Zegama Apeadero hardly working any longer.

Access points

Nowadays, Zegama Apeadero is well known for providing access to one hard northern trail mounting up rather straight to a central pass by Andreaitz. The initial mud track going up west (PR-GI 70) peters out into a narrow trail at a major crossroads (col of Intzuzaeta) after taking a turn south-west. Signals are abandoned and the trail penetrates straight into an open beech forest, where traces of the trail can go almost unnoticed. At the final stage of the ascension, the path winds up. At this point, autochthonous forest and steep slopes are left behind, yielding to a distinctive karst and grazing landscape.

Yet the main ascension route comes from the south-west, from the Sanctuary of Arantzazu (Oñati), where a beaten trail goes up through a thick forest of beeches and ends at the Urbia meadows. From there, the route climbs up to the summits (Aizkorri, Aketegi, Aitxuri and others).

Another access point lies on the east at the San Adrian tunnel and the Medieval road crossing it. At the southern exit of the tunnel, after a 50 metre walk, from a field a trail penetrates almost unnoticed up the forest on the left, so beginning a 30 odd minute uphill struggle (not in vain is it dubbed Kalbario Bidea) till an opening permits a beautiful view onto the north. The trail cuts on its way north-west along the verge of several limestone cliffs. In another 30 minutes, the summit may be attained.

Events

On the Aizkorri summit, a stark refuge hut (built 1934 as a shelter for shepherds and hikers) and the Santo Cristo hermitage lie nearby. A sport related event is gaining momentum and relevance in the 2000s that consists of a hard endurance test, ie the Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon, which takes place at different dates and runs around the Aizkorri massif and beyond to the Altzania massif (Aratz).

Adding to the appeal of the range, the whole Aizkorri and Aratz area was declared the Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Park in 2006.

References

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