Col de la Core Mont Valier Refuge and back to the barn!
This trek had been on the back of our minds for a while and seemed an ideal training yomp for Stok Kangri with a night up high at the Estagnous Refuge just below Mont Valier.
After keeping an eye on the forecast we booked into the refuge for the Friday night hopefully giving us 2 good weather windows to explore. Some of the route we had done before, some was new.
We abandoned Billy at Cold de La Core and headed up on to the ridge and up TO Tuc D’Eychelle. Not a great start as the long grass was sopping wet and by 30 mins in our feet were drenched! Sock change once we were on to drier ground. Fabulous hike along the tops to Col de Craberous. Not a soul in sight perfect and not a cloud in sight either. We made good time so decided to drop to Lac Milouga for lunch, a dip for me before the final ascent up to Col de Poeuch which looks down on the refuge. Fabulous views every direction. We are amazed by all the wonderful alpine flowers and sedums we saw en route every colour possible and in abundance.
Was a big ish day with roughly 1800m vertical and we both felt not too bad. Do love the Estagnous Refuge, incredible views of Etang Rond and Long and we sat outside in the sunshine sipping beer till dinner was called. Great dinner lots of carbs ready for big second day tomorrow.
Headed off earlyish as we reckoned on a fairly long day. Climbed up to the Col between the Mont Valier and the Petit Mont Vallier easily with fresh legs before scarmbling up to the Petit Mont Valier and heading along the ridge on fun terrain to Col de Peyre Blanche. It was then into Issard Valley as we call it on the Spanish side as we were lucky to see about 30 Issard along the way, 6 Marmots and again a plethora of amazing flowers/sedums. The path to Port D’Aula was pretty non existent but we found our way without losing too much altitude. Pleased to be at Port D’Aula by 12 noon so allowing us enough time to continue onto the ridge to Port de Salau and drop back down to the barn. Bail out option was to Col de la Pause and then hitch back.
This is a great ridge line for views of both France and Spain. The wind was really blowing but it was a warm wind. We had a few drops of rain and then it just vanished so totally lucked out with the ideal hiking weather. Finally up to Pic de Montaud by 2pm. Found a little spot for a quick late lunch out of the wind before starting the descent down along the ridge and back to the barn. Feet by now were sore! We were both pleased to flop into the barn at 5pm and sit with cold drinks and cups of tea in the final bit of the sun for the day.
Grand 2 days out, and apart from the refuge we saw 3 people on day 1 and not a soul on day 2 but we were very happy to see so much flora and wildlife.