Whiteburn's Wanderings

One man's wanderings backpacking around Scotland plus the odd digression

HRP Revisited

The plan: 4 weeks in the Pyrenees taking in the bits of the HRP that I’d missed out on my 2014 HRP trip due to the amount of snow in the high passes + take in a few bits of the Pyrenees that I liked the look of.

A lunchtime flight to Paris; overnight sleeper to Pau, train to Orolon Sainte Marie & bus to Arette; all went to plan, extraordinary.  A quick double shot of coffee in the local café then it was on the street to try & hitch up to the Col de la Pierre-Saint-Martin; not really fancying the 25km & 1450m climb up the road. Wonders seemed to never to cease; the first car stopped & I got a lift 22km to the Arette PSM junction leaving only 3km & 150m climb to get to the col (1760m) all be it in low cloud & light rain.

At the col some sort of cycle event was obviously in preparation with lots of cars, vans & even a couple of hospitality tents. Only 10:30am but no time to stop & enjoy a beer so the footpath E from BS262 was quickly located & it was off into the mirk……just like Scotland really.

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With the low cloud I half considered heading directly for Lescun but quickly dismissed that idea in favour of sticking with the plan & wandering through the karst landscape in the mist. After topping up on water at a small spring about 1km E it was off towards Pic d’ Anie (2504m) & as anticipated the ground got increasingly rougher & the summit was hidden in low cloud.

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I reached the summit in thick cloud with less than 20m visibility & intermittent snow/ sleet/ rain; great weather for sightseeing.

It sounded such an easy end of the day; get down W over Pico de Añelarra (2342m) about 1.5km away & locate the route down to the Col d’Anaye (2011m). It took well over an hour of zig-zagging through a 3-dimensional karst maze with gaping holes seemingly everywhere to get to the col. No path just a small cairn every 50m or so which normally would be fine but in 20m visibility it made for very slow going & there was liberal use of the phone’s GPS to stay on track.

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The route down from the col, just beyond Pico de Añelarra, was even more complex & a couple of times I had to back track uphill. About half way down I finally managed to find some cairns that confirmed I was on the right line but I felt very relieved to finally drop out of the cloud & see the familiar sight of Col d’Anaye.

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It took less than ½ hr to reach Source de Marmitou & a good pitch for the night; I was joined by 2 other tents but the cold & almost continual rain put pay too any conversation.

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Day 2

It had been a cold night with intermittent snow/ sleet & I’d slept late so it was nearly 9am before I was on my way up the 200m climb to the Col des Ourlets to the SW before following the frontier ridge S. Somewhere up there in the cloud lay the ‘Table de Trois Rois’.

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The ‘Table’ was shrouded in thick mist (useless photo’s) so it was quickly on the way S following the ‘path’ to Mouscate (2238m), on the descent I found a lost party of 4, no map, compass or GPS. I pointed towards the ‘Table’ & left them to it.

Dropping down below the cloud line at Col D´Escoueste (2124m) gave a nice panorama across the complex karst terrain being traversed.

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But most of the time it was like this.

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Approaching Ansabere (2372m) from the N the ‘path’, line of small cairns, ran up against a steep limestone wall & then headed off W across a large shelf. About ¾ km further on the path seemed to end & the only way ahead was a scramble up quite steep slabs for around 50m; a bit un-nerving with the limited visibility but here was nowhere else to go. Eventually the rounded W ridge of Ansabere was reached & soon a proper path reached, down which 30+ kids & teenage minders descended from the mist. On reaching the summit a couple appeared up the steep S slope wanting to know where they were (no map, backpacks, water bottles or anything!) & no idea where they had set off from. All I could was send them chasing downhill after the children…….it takes all sorts.

Acherito (2340m) was another ‘hill in the mist’ but I did manage a glimpse on the descent.

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By the time I descended to the Refuge d’ Acherito’s I’d had enough, it had felt like a long rough day & a roof over the head would have been welcome. I was to be disappointed though, the roof was 25% missing so I ended up pitching up nearby (once I had found a spot clear of cow muck).

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The phone’s GPS proved invaluable in the poor conditions; I’d loaded the Orux Maps App  with mapping from Topo Pirineos which I’d used previously on a Garmin  GPS unit, it worked excellently & far easier to use than the Garmin.

Day 3

The low cloud on the peaks cleared quickly with the dawn & it took just over ½ hr to reach Ibon de Acherito, where I had planned to spend the prior night; a really nice spot.

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It was a pleasant stroll along the frontier ridge to reach the Col de Pau (1942m) & reconnect with the HRP as it made its way along to Refuge d’Arlet.

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Lots of pleasant camp spots in the area but it was much too early to think of pitching up so I strolled on to Ibon de Estanes; really the last good spot before the descent into Candanchu.

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Day 4

Coming down the HRP/ GR11 into the Aspe Cirque there’s always the concern over the amount of melt water coming down the river but today there didn’t seem much to be of concern.

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The river crossing was pretty tame with much less water coming down the mountain than on previous visits & in less than an hour I was in Candanchu. The small supermarket there was pretty well stocked & it proved easy to select a few days supplies before enjoying a lazy lunch in the restaurant opposite.

The 4km road walk to Aspen in the afternoon sun after ½ bottle of wine felt blisteringly hot & the 400m climb to Ibón Del Escalar brutal. Too many tourists around the lake for my liking so after a brief stop I decided to dawdle up the further 200m climb to Lac Casterau. Still a few day trippers around but lots of quite places to get pitched up but first laundry duty & a swim which was pure luxury, if a little cold.

The view from the Duomid was picture postcard.

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Day 5

An 8am start & a 400m descent followed by 600m climb, still it wasn’t too hot, yet, & the scenery splendid.

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At Lac de Peyreget I decided to avoid the unpleasant climb to the Col de Peyreget by checking out the route around the S of Pic Peyreget. From the lake an easy climb zigzags to the Col de I’lou (2194m) from where a straight forward path contoured around the mountain to Col de Soum de Pombie (2103m) which was only a short amble to Refuge Pombie.

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Then all the way down to the valley 600m below.

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I called in at the Cabane Du Caillou de Soques, by the valley road, water tight but very scruffy but at least it was shelter from the now blistering heat before the 1000m climb ahead up to Col D’Arrious (2241m).

It was a long hot slog up to the col but I was determined to find a decent pitch up high to make the sleeping more comfortable. I half expected to have to descend off route to Lac D´Artouste (on the HRP variation to avoid the Passage Orteig) but I stumbled upon probably the most idyllic pitch of the trip on the W shore of Lac D’Arrious (just before the Passage Orteig). The only downside was it was quickly in the evening shade & didn’t get the sunrise. The lake certainly provided the coldest dip of the trip & certainly the shortest.

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Day 6

6am quietly enjoying the first coffee in bed watching the first light silhouette the mountains; 3m in front of the tent a chamois walked into the picture, I froze cup in hand not wanting to spook it. It took a couple of seconds until it noticed something was ‘wrong’ & sprung off accompanied by several sets of hooves behind the tent; a moment to savour.

I was on the way by 7am; first stop the Passage Orteig just across the other side of the lake.

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The cables had been replaced since I was last hear & more bolts added, I was soon across & looking down on the Refuge D’Arrémoulit; not a very friendly location for a bivouac.

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From the refuge I’d decided to check out the alternative to the ‘normal’ HRP going over Col du Palas (2517m) & Port du Lavedan (2615m) by heading around into Spain to Embalse de Respomuso; it’s also shorter & with less ascent. The climb to Col d’Arremoulit (2448m) from the hut was straightforward, if sometimes rough going, the descent into Spain proved quite steep & loose.

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From the Lacs d’ Arriel around to Respomuso it was an easy cruise along a good path.

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Following the GR11 until beyond the Embalse de Campo Piano (100’s of fine camping spots in the area) I turned N & climbed to the Col Peyre-Saint-Martin (2295m) to rejoin HRP.

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The route to Col de Cambales (2706m) climbed easily NE for about 1 km up to c2220m, then swung E steepening & finally rearing up loose scree to the col itself. The E side of the col was a steep climb down shatter rock for a few metres from where the easiest route was to descend S into the glacial bowl & then follow it down NE. Once down about c2600m I abandoned the snow & soon picked up the path a little to the N leading down to Refuge Wallon (c2300m).

Time for a bit of backpacking luxury; a couple of cold beers, then a ½ L red wine carryout & retire to the Aire du Bivouac.

Day 7

A reasonable easy start to the day with grand scenery

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The Col Mullets proved as steep as remembered but soon I was looking down upon the Vallee de Gaube & the Refuge des Oulettes de Gaube below.

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Once down in the valley you are treated to a spectacular view of Vignemale’s N face

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There seemed lots of people around, probably down to the relatively short walk from the Cauterets road, so I didn’t linger preferring to be back up the mountain even if it was a 700m climb. It took a couple of hours’ slog in the afternoon heat to finally have the Refuge de Baissellance in sight perched in the barren landscape (another very poor bivouac spot).

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The 800m descent from the refuge seemed endless & it’s not until ½ way down that the view down the Ossoue valley down to the dam is revealed.

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The Cabane Ossoue, near the dam, was occupied but I soon found a nice pitch 100m away & then went to the lake for a swim.

Day 8

I was away shortly after 7am as instead of following the HRP directly to Gavarnie (3 – 4hrs) I planned an excursion back to the frontier to follow the ridge between Pic des Ligades (2450m) and Port de Boucharo (2273m) & then the following day over to the Refuge Breche before dropping down into Gavarnie.

The day began well with clear skies.

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But by the time I reached Cabane Sausse Dessus, my departure point, only an hour or so later the sky was definitely looking a bit ominous.

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It only took the first couple of rumbles of thunder a few minutes later for me to abandon Plan A & continue on the path towards Gavarnie; & the rain started.

Can’t say that Gavarnie is one of my favourite places in the Pyrenees, usually mobbed by tourists & noisy. The first stop was the campsite where I picked out a spot at the quiet end & then headed for the showers only to find them locked up for cleaning. Somewhat disappointed I headed for the small but good village supermarket before taking in an overpriced lunch.

Early afternoon the rain had stopped, time for that shower & do the laundry; pure luxury, the first soap & hot water the clothes & I had experienced for over a week. Dinner was supposed to be a quiet affair with lots of green stuff, meats, fruit & a bottle of wine; the rain had restarted in earnest so I retired to the covered area on the campsite chatting to some guys from the Netherlands. Our convivial sojourn was rudely disturbed by the arrival of around 3 dozen Spanish scouts who all wanted to cram in out of the rain together with their 70L rucksacks & the nose was deafening; by 8:30pm my tolerance was straining so I went off to bed.

Mr. Grumpy got out of bed at 11:45pm to give the Spanish scouts my full repertoire of ‘bad’ French complaining about all the noise they ‘d been creating for the last hour or so (right next door to me); it seemed to have the desired impact whether or not they understood the words.

Day 9

Up & about by 6am, mainly to get the laundry hung out to dry before the off; Oh to have had a very loud air horn.

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Setting out the sky above the Cirque didn’t look particularly hospitable.

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At the Hourquette d’Alans (2430m) I had planned to take a more direct route to Parzan bypassing Heas by re-crossing the frontier via Port Neuf de Pinede (2460m) to join the GR11, but the sky looked increasingly unsettled so it was straight down to the Gave D’Estaubé (Port Neuf de Pinede left of shot).

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The road walk down from the Lac Des Gloriettes dam to Heas is only about 4km but seemed to take an eternity, I decided to check into the campsite attached to the Auberge de la Munia rather than heading back up the hill & risk the thunderstorm that was obviously brewing. That night I really enjoyed the €20 Formula dinner in the Auberge, very good value really.

Day 10

Awoken before daylight with a thunderstorm raging, lightening lit up the tent, pea sized hail turned the campsite white followed by heavy rain; I wasn’t going anywhere for a while.

The storm came & went until nearly lunchtime; I decided to take the rest of the day off. Through the afternoon low cloud still enveloped the mountains & intermittent rain continued, a really miserable day but there was another dinner at the Auberge to look forward to; another excellent meal.

Day 11

With all the lounging around & an early night I was up & away before 7am, the cloud hadn’t cleared from the mountains & Heas looked like some rain drenched Lakeland village.

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By the time I reached the Hourquette de Chermentas (2439m) the cloud definitely looked as though it was trying to break.

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Perhaps I would get a good view of the Barroude wall after all; it turned out to be completely obscured by cloud. Much to my disappointment I made my way over the Port de Barroude (2535m) & headed down into the Valle de Barrosa.

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It was still early, 4pm, when I reached the Cabane Barrosa, the HRP guide describes as “very basic, not useful” but it’s a very tidy bothy that’ll sleep 10-12 on platforms, table, chairs & even a brush. I knew that the next decent pitch was probably 4hrs further on beyond Parzan where I needed to pick up supplies so I parked up for the night.

Day 12

It took about an hour to get down the rough track to the dreaded black top & a further hour to get into Parzan; more to the point the knee (old injury) was starting to give me grief.  The village now has 2 new supermarkets but both catering for French tourists looking for cheap alcohol etc the best backpackers stop is the shop attached to the garage. Shopping followed by chips & a coke then back up the road to the Urdiceto turning with a long trudge up a dirt track to look forward to.

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The 10km & 1200m ascent to Paso de los Caballos (2326m) up the dirt road through the mid -day heat took nearly 5hrs & I was relieved to finally leave the road & be off on the descent.

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I finally pitched up near Cabaña de Sallena (1873m, UTM 280809/ 4726582), Camping Forcallo was only an hour ahead but in 2015 it was closed & there’s nowhere else to camp in the valley. The Cabaña is pretty rough but the roof appeared watertight so perhaps useful in bad weather.

Day 13

Cursing, I passed Camping Forcallo an hour into the day, it was open; would have saved an hour’s walking today & I could have enjoyed a cold beer.

It took a couple of hours up the GR11 to get to the turning for Refuge Soula. The route towards Port d’Aygues Tortes (2683m) is described in the Joosten HRP guide as “no path & there are just a few cairns to guide you”, there proved to be a reasonable path with cairns which led up to an upper corrie (good camping).

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From the corrie it’s was a simple matter of following the stream practically all the way to the frontier col.

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The descent to the Vallon d’ Aygues Tortes proved a steep zig-zag path on scree, no more difficult as others on the HRP but it did set the knee going again.

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The path down the valley the Refuge Soula proved a lot rougher going than expected & it probably took close to a couple of hours. I did manage to get a beer before they started serving dinner; I retired to the bivouac area pitched the Duomid, popped some pills & got the pasta going.

I did miss a trick coming down the valley; for those not heading for the refuge a shorter route is to turn off just after Refuge Prat-Cazeneuve & ascend towards Lac de Pouchergues before traversing around the hill to join to route up from Soula to Lac de Caillauas.

Day 14

The 500m ascent up to Lac de Caillauas was up a well worn path with lots of traffic from the refuge heading out for a day up at the lake. After crossing the dam the path became a little more ephemeral, I eventually picked up a more trodden line a lot higher above the lake than the 20m suggested by Joosten which soon led up to Lac des Isclots (2398m).

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An obvious path led up to Lac du Milieu (2510m) where the path disappeared amongst the boulders until the final zig-zag path up scree to the Glacier Des Gourgs Blancs. The snow was reasonably firm so it was easiest to stick to it as much as possible & avoid the boulders.

View down the glacier from Col des Gourgs-Blancs (2877m)

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Next stop the Col du Pluviometre (2860m) About 1km ENE

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I tackled the steep descent down a rock buttress to the R, not hard but loose, & then simply headed straight across the bowl & up to the col. An obvious line around the E flank of a rock bump led easily to the route to the summit of Tusse de Montarque (2889m). The summit was a bit of a surprise; it’s described by Joosten as being “a large plateau” which translated to real English should obviously have been “a rounded bump”. The summit did provide a good view of tomorrows objective the Col Inferieur de Literole.

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Just a 100m NNE of the summit the obvious path down to Refuge Portillon was picked up with the refuge clearly visible below.

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Interestingly the small lake just above the refuge, with all the ice floes, is the water supply so if you really want a cold shower you’re guaranteed to get one; costs €3 for a hot one.

On this occasion I booked into the refuge for the night as the bivouac sites in the area looked very poor. Can’t say I was overly impressed; the meal that evening was low on quantity (possibly ½ my usual fare) & very rushed. I also got an Olympic standard snorer alongside me which despite ear plugs meant I got a poor night’s sleep.

Day 15

I’d met up with Chris the night before so we set off together up the 400m climb to Col Inferieur de Literole (2983m), a pretty straight forward climb up scree & snow.

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From the col the it took a little time to sort out the next target the Portal de Remune (2831m) about 2km away to the SE & well above the Ibón Blanco de Lliterola.

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First step was to get down into the bowl below, I scrambled down loose rocks for about 50m before crossing to the steep snow slope & was glad of the security of an ice axe.

Portal de Remune turned out to be marked by a post which was visible from some distance away & getting there was an easy passage across scree & firm snow

From the col we took what looked by far the easiest descent from the col down to the SE, rather than E as described by Joosten which looked a lot steeper & rougher.  I think we were both expecting an easier passage down the Remune valley given the proximately of the road head. The desire for a ‘granny path’ was frequently mentioned but I can attest that the 1000m descent is far from a ‘granny path’ & the knee was quite sore by the time we hit the road despite the ingestion of chemicals.

I’d decided to have a rest day down at Camping Aneto about 10km down the valley & had already sussed out the ‘Cloud Bus’ which runs down from Basurta to Benesque; Chris decided to do the same. We waited around for the bus for a while before managing to hitch a lift straight to the door & after checking in headed for the bar for a couple of cold ones followed by a hot shower.

Day 16

A day off; laundry followed by a walk into Benesque to do some shopping then retired to the campsite bar for a lazy afternoon lunch.


0740 bus from the campsite entrance up to Basurta.

Took a break just around Coll Deth Horo (2210m), about 1km before Estany de L´Escaleta, a limestone area with active sinkholes; a great spot for a bivouac.

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Beyond Estany de L´Escaleta the route climbs to a large low angled bowl with the smooth granite slabs providing an easy approach to Coll de Mulleres (2928m)

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All the easy going served to lull one into a bit of compliancy but staring down the very steep E side of the col soon sorted that out. Once across to the N end of the col I’ve no doubt that you could climb almost directly down, I took a bit of a zig-zag finding a slightly easier passage to the boulder slope below.

Having dropped down a bit to get a good view the route does look an improbable one for a backpacker.

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The fun wasn’t finished there though, there was still a further 1500m to descent & lots of rough ground to enjoy & despite the day’s rest & more chemicals the knee was acting up again.

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We finally pitched up about 1km E of the Hospital de Vielha just out of earshot of the busy road through the tunnel.

Day 18

An easy day as far as navigation goes just following the GR11 up to Estanh Tòrt de Rius & then taking the little HRP diversion over to Lac de Mar.

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We stopped off at Refugi de la Restanca for a cold coke before climbing the 500m to Coret D´Oelhacrestada (2480m) where I planned to head off S along the Carros de Foc (Chariots of Fire) whereas Chris was to continue along the HRP to Salardu. We both decided to call it a day & soon found a decent pitch on the NE shore of Estany Des Monges.

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Day 19

I was on the trail about 8am with the expectation of an easy walk downhill to Refugi Ventosa I Calvell; quite pretty scenery though.

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It took around 1 ½ hrs to reach the refuge perched on an outcrop overlooking Estany Negre.

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Just along the trail there was a lovely looking swimming spot with good bivouac potential in the area.

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The trail led up from the far end of the lake, well I say trail it’s really just a line of yellow posts up a gulley piled up with large bounders rising 500m to the to reach Coll de Contraix (2743m); I could see people strung out ahead slowly moving through the boulders.

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No time for hanging around though the sky didn’t look very friendly & wet boulder hopping was something I wanted to avoid. I soon decided that finesse was a waste of time so just tackled the boulders pile head on, the majority were so huge that I was confident they weren’t going to move. It didn’t take long for me to be overtaking the stragglers & by the time I climbed the final short section of scree up to the col they’d all been left behind.

The descent to Estany de Contaix was almost as tough as the ascent with another large boulder field to negotiate & it was now raining.

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The rough going continued down the further 600m descent to the valley from where it was a 10min stroll up to the Refugi D´Estany Llong.

Having completed the northern section of the ‘Carros de Foc’ previously (it’s the same as the GR11) I can say that the leg from Refugi Ventosa I Calvell to Refugi D´Estany Llong is definitely the toughest part of the route.

My initial thought was to bivouac near the hut but I was put off by the huge number of people around the hut so after a short stop to take on water & give the knee a break I headed off along ‘tomorrows’ trail to find a quite spot.

The trail S from the refuge proved a bit of luxury; a well-built ‘mule’ track with low gradients & once out of the lower forest great views.

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I wandered past a couple of decent campsites, with water, but the afternoon sunshine & an easy trail I just kept strolling on.

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I finally pulled at at Estany de Dellui, just over an hour from the refuge, & got pitched up on the shore.

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Day 20

The Collada de Dellui (2573m) was an easy 200m climb from the lake, it did look as though I’d probably chosen the last good pitch on the ascent.

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East the land of lakes, sadly not looking at their best with low water levels (hydro)

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An easy stroll down to Refugi de Colomina

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More very scenic lakes

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Down to the wonderfully located Refugi Josep Maria Blanc

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Even at 2pm the bar/ restaurant at refuge was pretty busy. I had thought of a bivouac in the area but after a quick check of the neighbourhood decided to descent to Espot about 8km down the valley, 1000m descent.  The dirt road leading down from the refuge was much rougher than expected, not one than your average family 4*4 would survive, but led efficiently ½ way down from where a much more pleasant path led straight into town.

After a couple of beers decided a bit of comparative luxury was called for & checked into the Pensio Palmira; I’d stayed there previously & at €30 very good value. Spent the next hour soaking in the bath together with most of the soap products, it did seem to benefit the aching knee considerably.

Day 21

Plan A was to get the park bus N & re-join the HRP & take a week to walk into Andorra but I decided the condition of the knee wasn’t conducive to much more ‘mistreatment’; time for a Plan B. I figured if I could get to Andorra la Vella it would open up opportunities for some easier walking.

Fortunately, I’d researched public transport in & around Andorra only difficult was that Espot is a bit out on a limb. The answer was to get to Sort some 30km to the S; this turned out to be easier than expected.  Hitching a couple of rides saw me in Sort around 10:30am, getting onward was a bit problematic. The park bus to La Seu D’Urgell with a connection to Vella didn’t leave until 5:30pm so it was either try & hitch the 55km & risk getting stuck in the middle of nowhere or wait for the bus. I decided to wait around have a lazy lunch & watch the canoeists play in the river.

I ended up in Vella after 7pm to find the phone didn’t work in Andorra & nowhere to stay; after unsuccessfully checking out a few small hotels at the N end of town I gave up & found a bar with wifi. Turned out to be a good find, the 2nd 3 course meal of the day €8 including wine. Booking.com worked it’s magic & I managed to get a room in the old part of town a couple of km’s away.

Day 22

A day off on Vella, wasn’t really impressed. Spent a lot of the day eating & studying maps figuring out an easy 4 – 5 day route to Latour de Carol.

Day 23

The knee was still felt a bit dicky but I’d had enough of being in the town so it was on the bus E to Soldeu at the foot of the Vall d’Incies.

The 2km road walk way more pleasant than anticipated as the road was closed to traffic & the scenery quite refreshing after the crowded town. Half way down the valley I called into the campsite’s bar obligatory double expresso before dawdling to the end of the road.

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The Joosten HRP route avoids the valley floor sticking to the high ground (left) to cross the frontier by the Port d’Incies, directly ahead, over to I’Hospitalet-pres-I’Andorre. I was to follow the Veron route to Porte-Puymorens sticking to the Spanish side with the intent of being as tardy as possible.

From the road head an easy path climbed the 300m to a large meadow with the Refugi de Siscaro; I didn’t take a look but I saw walkers using the building.

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I’d decided on a lazy day so after lunch I wandered up to Estany de Baix in search of an isolated spot, too many day trippers around for my liking so I left the main route & climbed E to just above Estany de Les Canals Roges, c2500m, where I found a nice spot with water & soon got pitched up.

Day 24

Despite my best efforts at sloth I was headed uphill by 7:30am, just to the N the Pic de la Tossa de Juclar (2670m) looked to have masses of cloud being blow up it from the N (France)

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Once on the Cap Del Port ridge (c2700m) it became obvious that to the N was swathed in low cloud leaving Spain in the sunshine. The next port of call was to be Pic de Maia (2597m) about 3km to the S smothered in cloud.

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Take the worse elements of Vella & drop it somewhere = Pas de la Casa; a place worth avoiding, I grabbed an overpriced lunch & moved on.

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The path E of town proved very transitory & intermingled with lots of cattle tracks, eventually I just headed directly uphill to find the dirt road shown on my map. The dirt road didn’t really exist just some parallel cattle tracks but it was in the right place, marked with cairns & heading the right way; before long the Mines de Pimorent came into sight.

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The old mine buildings are totally derelict & no use to the back packer but I was heading for Cabane Mines (UTM 400135/ 4711685) a small open shelter overlooking Puymorens. Well Pyrenees Refuges.com was obviously out of date, the place had received a facelift & there was a farmer living there. I eventually found a good spot about 1.5km to the NE well hidden away from prying eyes as I was so close to roads.

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Day 25

I made my way down the short distance to Col Du Puymorens where Veron’s HRP heads off E to Barrage de Lanoux & Carlit, my intended route but the knee was starting to act up again so I’d made the decision to head down to Puymorens & pick up the Tour du Carlit directly to Latour de Carol.

I found my own route into Puymorens, simply following the ski piste straight down into the backdoor.

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An easy enough path led up the 600m ascent through the forest to the Coll de L’Home Mort (Dead Man’s Pass; not exactly a welcoming name), 2280m, where the forest suddenly stopped & an expanse of grassland opened up.

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A couple of km’s further I reached the Cabane Serrat Del Freser a potential overnight halt but it was only 2pm so I strolled down to the campsite in Latour to put the feet up for a couple of days awaiting the train home.  I did find a very useful supermarket in the village & a very good bistro by the station which kept me very well fed & watered.


13 comments on “HRP Revisited

  1. Jools
    August 20, 2016

    What an excellent trip report, fantastic images accompanying too. I am only slightly very envious…

    • Paul Atkinson
      August 20, 2016

      Thanks, the only way to overcome envy IME is to get there first.

  2. rcmcwill
    August 24, 2016

    Used to explore the Pyrenees by van and public transport (mostly the Spanish side)when I was a young man, and before I was really a hiker. Would love to go back now and hike. One day, but it’s further for me than for you, Paul.

    • Paul Atkinson
      August 24, 2016

      The Pyrenees is certainly addictive. I’ve got to admit that if I had to chose which side of the frontier to be on it would be Spain.

  3. Nick Mandeville
    October 18, 2016

    Hi Paul, looks like another great Pyrenean adventure, will have a look at your route at the start sounds like a contender for my one day ultimate HRP, also very interested in the Aiguestortes area, am I right that camping inside the park is a no no. Changed my blog over to Blogger (justanothertrail.blogspot.com) you might be interested in the route we took from Gavarnie to Rioumajou and the Porte de Cel circuit.

    • Paul Atkinson
      October 18, 2016

      Camping outwith official sites is not allowed in the parks BUT bivouvac is; nominally you have to be an hour from the road & pitch up after 1900 & be away by 0800.

      • Nick Mandeville
        October 19, 2016

        Ok so effectively the same as the French National Parks rather than the likes of Ordessa where it is all to do with altitude, many thanks.

  4. David Stenning
    December 1, 2016

    It looks like you didn’t bring the MLD Trailstar on this trip, is that right? If so, why the change? What did you use for footwear, I think in 2014 you were wearing Inov-8 shoes. Any problem with non-waterproof shoes in the rain?

    • Paul Atkinson
      December 1, 2016

      I used the MLD Cuben Duomid, lighter, smaller footprint & very weather tolerant.
      Used the non-waterproof Merrill Moab Ventilator shoes on the GR11 2015 & HRP 2016; proving tougher than the Inov8’s but 4 weeks in the Pyrenees can still tear them up.
      When it rains the feet get wet but they will dry in less than an hour; I’d find waterproof boots far too hot for walking in summer & if they do get wet they take days to dry out.

      • David Stenning
        December 1, 2016

        Thank you for the quick reply. I remember how fondly you wrote about the Trailstar so it’s interesting to see that you’ve swapped it out for a different shelter. I wonder if you would consider doing a gear list for this trip as you did for the 2014 one. I always enjoy reading your work and look forward to more.

      • Paul Atkinson
        December 1, 2016

        I’ve a 2016 Gear list post in the offing, just been too busy &/ or lazy to complete it.

  5. Rosie
    December 19, 2017

    What were the dates of your trip? Would you keep it the same or start earlier or later?

    • Paul Atkinson
      December 20, 2017

      Both the 2014 & 2016 trips reached the high Pyrenees mid-July, however there was a significant difference in snow conditions. In 2014 a start 2 – 3 wks later would have been more sensible, in 2016 could have gone 2 wks earlier.
      I’ve taken to monitoring the Snow History at Formigal which I’ve found gives a good general picture; current history doesn’t show snow level for 2013/ 14 but that year it peaked at over 4.5m.

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This entry was posted on August 18, 2016 by in Trip Reports and tagged , , .

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