TRAVERSE 3 : OSSAU - CAUTERETS
Spectacular High Mountain Scenery...
READY TO HIKE ?
Four our third week of the Great Pyrenean Traverse we enter into high mountain territory, and shift from the GR10 to the Pyrenean High Route. This six day trek covers one of the most spectacular sections of the trail from the Pic du Midi d’Ossau past the Balaitous and in front of the Vignemale to the lovely spa town of Cauterets.
• Back and forth across the French/Spanish border
• Six days trekking on the Pyrenean High Route
• Optional ascent of classic peaks La Grande Fache and Le Petit Vignemale, along with Pic Palas
Dates 2023 : 30 August - 6 September
This price includes :
• 6 days guided walking
• 7 nights accommodation in hostels and refuges
• All breakfasts, dinners and picnic lunches
• Collection from and return to Lourdes train station
Meet the group at the train station in Lourdes. Transfer to a hostel for your first night. Group briefing over a a drink before dinner the same evening.
Transfer to the Lac de Bious Artigue (1422m) from where we walk up past the emblematic Pic du Midi d’Ossau. Local people refer affectionately to this mountain as Jean-Pierre and it is the remains of a volcanic caldera (250-400mya) that was then pushed upwards as the Pyrenees formed (~40mya). We trek around the mountain via lakes and the Suzon Pass (2127m) to the Pombie Refuge (2032m).
+900m, 7kms, ~3h walking.
We follow the high route east down through the woods before climbing back up to open mountainside and the Arremoulit Refuge a short distance from the Balaitous (3144m). This small refuge is set in a magical cirque beside the lake of the same name and we are warmly welcomed with great food including home-made bread!
-642m, +860m, ~6h walking.
From Arremoulit (2257m), we cross over to Spain via the Palas Pass (2517m, we may well have the time to take in the peak of the same name at 2974m before heading past a series of lakes to the Embalsa Respumoso (lake) and the refuge beside it (2150m) for the night.
+260/717m, -367/-824m, ~6h walking.
Leaving Respumoso we climb over steep mountainsides to the Col de la Fache (2664m). It was through this pass that many allied pilots escaped Nazi forces during the Second World War, and it was also the pass through which Republican forces fled from Franco in the Spanish Civil War just 5-10 years earlier. From the pass fit walkers with some scrambling experience can reach the summit of the Grand Fache (3005m) before walking down to the Marcadau forests and the Wallon Refuge (1865m).
+514/+855m, -799m/-1140m, ~7-8h walking.
We cross the border again today as we trek up the Arratille valley (perhaps stopping for a dip in one of the lakes!) and back into Spain at the Col d’Arratille (2528m). Our passage is brief this time however as a short traverse and climb brings us back to France at the Col des Mulets (2591m). As we descend from here towards the Gaube valley we have a first glimpse of the spectacular north face of the Vignemale. Our refuge, les Oulettes (2150m) is at the foot of this great summit. Memorable views from our dinner table!
+726m, -441m, ~6h walking.
Today is a long day’s walk and allows us to finish the week in style with the spectacular Petit Vignemale peak (3032m). We’ll rise early to have the climb done before midday and begin our long descent back to civilisation. As we will backtrack on our return there is the option of doing only part of the climb, or sitting it out and enjoying a lazy morning admiring the view in the refuge. We climb up to the Horquette d’Ossue and then up steep and slightly exposed slopes to the peak from where we have panoramic views and can clearly see the great Ossoue glacier. Looking westward on a clear day, we can make out our long and impressive itinerary via passes, summits and lakes. We head back down to Oulettes, and descend from there to Pont d’Espagne, where we catch a bus down to Cauterets for a well earned shower and bed for the night.
Return transfer to Lourdes train station to connect with your onward transport. Or continue your Great Pyrenean Traverse!
Please Note: This itinerary may be altered if conditions and weather are judged to put the safety of the group at risk, or if they indicate another route would be preferable for the group’s comfort. Our guides reserve the right to make changes to the itinerary without notice. These changes will be explained to the group if they occur.
This trek involves relatively long days with an average altitude gain of 1000m/day. To consider this trek, you should be comfortable walking for 8 hours in the mountains at your own pace with, of course, short rests here and there and a decent lunch break. The following day, you should be able to get up and do the same again! We are walking in high mountain terrain and although, for the major part, we are on paths, you still should feel happy with rock or scree underfoot.