This explore has been on our list for a while and we finally got to do it in fabulous weather with an abundance of wildlife and absolutely nobody around, what more could we have asked for. Lee as always was a fund of information on the area which helped giving us a plan of attack.
So we set off from Col de la Pause which we know well and up to Port D’Aula. An easy stroll up to the Spanish border although quite windy the sun was out so ideal walking conditions.
At the col the map came out. We followed a vague path mainly on the Spanish side for 2 hours. En route we saw lots of Issard, (the Pyrenees equivalent of the Chamois) so that was a real bonus. Plenty of Marmots too but tricky blighters to photograph so Al says!!!
We then headed up to a col Peyre Blanc for lunch….looking down on the refuge, Mt Valier and Petit Mt Valier waiting to be climbed after re fuelling.
A slightly tricky down climbing section, made us both concentrate! And then from the final col it was only a 20 minute walk up to the Mt Valier. The thunder was roaring around us but only a few spots of rain before it passed and cleared again. Only ones on the summit fantastic and good views too. From there it is about 1.5 hour descent to the hut with our dodgy knees going slowly!
A fun night at the refuge with a couple of Dutch guys, and 8 French guys. Think we got special treatment as I was the only female there that night, dorm with just one other single guy so no ear plugs needed and a good nights kip after some excellent garlic soup, chicken in a wild mushroom sauce and crÃ¨me caramel.
We got a detailed forecast from the guardians with the advice to get going early as a HUGE storm was expected mid afternoon. So we took their advice and headed off by 730am the next day. Up via Etang Rond and Longue both stunning in colours and amazing reflections. A good path took us up to Col de Clauiere (which is one of the paths used for the Chemin de Liberty) so some history info on the way too. As we got to the col, clouds were whisking up and around us made it all look pretty amazing. Luckily the clouds came and went and we managed not to be in them at any stage which was a relief as that would have made ther route finding a tad trickier.
Issard tastic we must have seen at least 70 odd in about 1.5 hours, one huge herd of 30 plus was amazing to watch. We felt so lucky to see so many at such close sight. We sat 30 mins from Port D’aula sipping tea and watching the wildlife around us for half an hour before getting back to the col and then descending to the refuge for our picnic lunch and then on to Billy. The weather held out so we were dry and got back to the barn for hot showers before the storm began and now the water buts are full again!!!!
Fabulous 2 day explore, we would definitely do this hike again, doable in a day but much more enjoyable in 2!