Author Topic: Pyrenees  (Read 1432 times)

ninthace

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Pyrenees
« on: 16:24:33, 29/03/20 »

I was asked to post some pictures of the Pyrenees here to pass the time during the current crisis.  I am happy for others to do the same.  Can I ask that you add a short description of where it is and any other background that you think would be interesting or entertaining,


To set the scene -
The first picture is of a little chapel on a hill above the Hameau de Bruncan in the Commune of Sauveterre de Comminges where we lived. 

Most communes in France comprise one village or town plus outlying farms and such.  Sauveterre de Comminges is unique in that comprises 11 villages or hamlets in order to make up the numbers, making it the most extended commune in France.  To give you an idea, Bruncan had 90 inhabitants including us.
This is the Bruncan valley.  The little hill on the right is called Plamajou and is a shade over 1000m high.  There was a lot of good walking to be had in the forests round the villaer

and this rather grainy shot is the view from the lounge at sunset in winter.  The snowy mountain on the left is called the Cagire (1912m) - one of my favourite walks.

Next set - some proper hills
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ninthace

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Re: Pyrenees
« Reply #1 on: 17:21:56, 29/03/20 »
Climbing Le Cagire from the Col de Menté.
The Refuge de l'Arreau

Last chance to fill your gourde (French for water bottle - far nicer I think)

Starting to get above the trees

Gaining the ridge - the Pic de l'Escalette (1855m) to the SW

From the summit ridge looking S towards the highest peak in the Pyrenees - the Aneto (3404m)

Heading along the path to the summit (it feels an awful long way down to the left)

The ski station of Le Mourtis

The top.  The lady in the picture was my excuse for going up the mountain.  She wanted to be taken for a walk.
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richardh1905

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Re: Pyrenees
« Reply #2 on: 17:39:25, 29/03/20 »
Stunning photos. I regard the Pyrenees as 'one step up' from mountains in the UK, whereas the high Alpine peaks are 'two steps up'. Big mountains, but not so big that a fit and competent walker can't bag the odd high peak without having to worry about crevasses etc.


I'll see if I can hunt out and digitize my Pyrenean photos.
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gunwharfman

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Re: Pyrenees
« Reply #3 on: 20:09:15, 29/03/20 »
Thank you, I'll look up all those places this evening and dream of better days!

I watched a YouTube last night and liked it, the couple with two dogs walked the GR10 recently and they obviously made an effort to make their video a good one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6jVLrDg6v8

jimbob

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Re: Pyrenees
« Reply #4 on: 21:54:29, 29/03/20 »
Ah the fleas that tease in the high Pyranees.....
I lived in the Seo de Urgell in the 60s.
I was lucky enough to be given the chance to study across there for a few years.
I did walk in the areas around Andorra quite a lot. I was given the chance to go caving a few times as well but I hated it in all honesty, way too claustrophobic.
Memories......


Too little, too late, too bad......

sunnydale

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Re: Pyrenees
« Reply #5 on: 07:38:33, 30/03/20 »
Fab photos, looks stunning O0
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Jac

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Re: Pyrenees
« Reply #6 on: 10:14:41, 30/03/20 »
Wish I had that view from my lounge window right now :)
So many paths yet to walk, so little time left

ninthace

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Re: Pyrenees
« Reply #7 on: 10:29:25, 30/03/20 »
Wish I had that view from my lounge window right now :)
So do I Jac!
You could watch the seasons work their way up and down the mountains.  Best of all, you could spot fresh snowfall so you knew the best days to go skiing. We had 5 French and 1 Spanish ski area within an easy drive, 2 were within 1 hour.  Several of the stations were owned by the same company and my ski pass worked on all of them so no queuing, just rock up and ski.  If my wife woke up and found me missing and the skis gone from the veranda - she knew where I had gone.
As a retirement present, we put in a hot tub on the terrace.  Nothing nicer than to come back after a day skiing, sit in the tub until the stars came out then go in and dry off in front of a big log fire.

I will put up some more pics later today.
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gunwharfman

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Re: Pyrenees
« Reply #8 on: 13:11:58, 30/03/20 »
We want to see you in your tub!

ninthace

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Re: Pyrenees
« Reply #9 on: 15:15:54, 30/03/20 »

I shall ignore GWM's barb
Today I thought I would show you one of the, in my opinion, classic routes in the central Pyrenees - a circular route from the Hospice de France south of Bagnères-de-Luchon to the top of the Pic de Sauvegarde.  The route follows one of the routes used be the French Resistance in WW2 and returns on another route.  You will have to forgive a discontinuity in the weather but I stitched this together from 2 trips.
The route itself is about 18km, starting at 1385m and topping out at 2738m.  There is around 1600m of climbing and it took me about 6 hours.  Here is the route on GE, it goes anticlockwise.  This first set is from the start to the summit.




Looking down on the official start point, the Hospice de France.  This was used as a refuge by escapees prior to their crossing.  It fell into disrepair at one point as it is at the head of a fairly remote valley but now there is a road up and it has been opened as a restaurant.  The car park is a bit further downhill out of shot to the left. 



The path starts climbing almost straight away and does not stop for about an hour and a half.  It heads determinedly up the side of the valley towards a cliff



then just as you wonder if you are going to have to climb, it crosses by a waterfall



then climbs out via the side of the valley to pop out in a hanging valley



dominated by this lump, Pic de la Mine (2708m).



There is a path heading out that way now used by climbers and skiers but it was originally used by the Romans to get to their mines (hence Pic de la Mine I suppose)



The main path continues to climb to come out at the Refuge de Venasque where the weary traveller can purchase a drink or snack.  Everything was to be helicoptered in though so it is not cheap.  The first time I arrived there was a kids trike outside which came as a surprise.  Turned out there was a family with small children running the refuge.
 


The refuge is surrounded by a set of very pretty lakes - the Boums du Port.  The lump across this particular lake is the Pic de Sauvegarde.  It looks quite imposing from here.



The problem is how to get there from here.  There is a clue in this picture, look for the shaft of light running diagonally down the snowfield.  That is the way out.



A path leads round the lake and then climbs up a scree in a series of zigzags to this man made gap that muleteers blew with gunpowder so they could get through to Spain.  This gap was garrisoned during the Franco Spanish war of 1793-95.  There is a plaque explaining how the garrison was snowbound one winter before finally being relieved by the folk of Luchon who marched up there with fresh supplies and bands playing.  The first time I made the top I nearly threw up with the effort so I don't think I would have been a good bandsman!



The climb to the gap is worth the effort as you pop through into Spain.



Across the valley is the Maladeta massif guarding the highest point in the Pyrenees



The view behind is also good.



Now it is a sharp right and up the ridge for the summit with these two doing some atmospheric pointing



By and large the path is not too bad, there is one point were there is a big sloping slab with a cable sling across the top edge to stop you sliding off.  I do not have picture of it as I was hanging on with both hands.

And finally the summit.

My next instalment will be the view from the top, if anyone wants to see it?
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gunwharfman

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Re: Pyrenees
« Reply #10 on: 16:59:48, 30/03/20 »
Yes, please.

The sunlight through the gap reminded me of a scene from the film McKenna's Gold starring Gregory Peck which was on TV the other night.

richardh1905

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Re: Pyrenees
« Reply #11 on: 21:12:46, 30/03/20 »
Fantastic - thank you for posting. More please!
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ninthace

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Re: Pyrenees
« Reply #12 on: 16:24:55, 31/03/20 »
Thanks for the comments.  This section is the view from the top of the Pic de Sauvegrde.  We are at are just 14ft shy of 9000ft.  I apologise for the workmanship, these were taken with my Finepix camera.


This is looking down the way up from the Hospice de France which is now out of shot below the wood on the the distant hill.  The path came up the dark looking valley to the lakes of the Port du Port.  The Refuge de Venasque is by the small lake just slightly right of centre.



Coming slightly up and right, the further peak is the Pic de la Pique (2304m) and the nearer mountain in the Pic de la Mine (2708m).  The return route goes round the back of these two on the Spanish side.



Coming further right and looking pretty much S, this is the Maladeta Massif and the Aneto.  Aneto is the third highest mountain in Spain and the highest peak in the Pyrenees (under that little cloud).



Looking SW this the valley of Benasque in Spain.  It is one of the main approach routes for people wanting to climb the Aneto.  It is also the reason why the pass that I came through was made, to open trade between Benasque and Luchon



Looking N, this rather blue shot is Bagnères-de-Luchon, the GR10 comes in through the ski station of Superbagnères which is that building on top of the hill in the centre left hand edge of the picture.  My house was somewhere under those clouds.



The Pic de Sauvgarde is on the central spine of the Pyrenees, which can be seen in this shot running west.  The tops are from 2700m to over 3000m.



Looking down NW, this is the Lac de la Montagnette.



And just a few close ups:
The Boums du Port



Pic de la Mine, the return path goes over the col just above centre right hand edge of the picture.



And a close up of Aneto and the glacier.



Just as an aside before I go.  A friend of mine and occasional walking companion, who ran the village cafe, celebrated his 50th birthday on the summit.  It was done in some style, including plenty of wine and 2 crates of fresh oysters which were carried all the way up.


So that is the job half done, now all I have to do is get back down.



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gunwharfman

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Re: Pyrenees
« Reply #13 on: 17:49:23, 31/03/20 »
Thank you. You certainly have the photo procedure sussed.

It was at Superbagnores in 2015 and a short way down from there I was biffed in the chest by an irate cow, she lifted off my feet and knocked me down a steep bank. She never came after me thank goodness.

The route down to the town was very attractive and easy to walk as well, just as well because by now my right leg was very painful and bruised, one horn I believe caught me on my right thigh and the other I think caught my left hand. I know for sure that the cows head caught smack in the chest! I was carrying my Ipad mini around my neck at the time and when I checked it the screen was cracked across its full length. It was done for so it ended up in the bin at the next campsite.

By the time I reached the town my hand was dark, swollen and painful. As I walked I kept seeing huge (about 2' diameter) metal pipes in the woods that made their way down through the woods, for more than a kilometre, I think they started somewhere up near the ski resort and finished somewhere 'down there' near the town. I took it for granted that they were water pipes but never did find out for sure. A very chic little place to wander into, wonderful food as I remember and I camped there for two nights because by then I needed a rest day badly. My leg and hand soon were back to normal and first thing in the morning after my second camp I strolled on.




ninthace

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Re: Pyrenees
« Reply #14 on: 18:03:49, 31/03/20 »
Was the gondola from Superbagneres down to the town centre not running?  It would have saved you a walk!
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