We’d been keeping an eye on the weather and looking for a 4 day window to get away with the tent into the mountains to a new area. Weather forecast kept changing but we had a plan to leave on Friday no matter what!
So when we woke to cloud and mizzle at 6am on Friday morning we were not impressed! However, the weather gods were with us and as we turned up at the parking area the sun was shining and continued to do so for pretty much the whole trip.
For those of you who do not know this area, we drove over the famous Col de Tourmalet en route to the parking a few km below.
WOW, what a stunning area this is and so pleased we got to see it at it’s best. Full of granite peaks, quite a few 3000m peaks too, pine forests and loads of stunning lakes and valleys each with their own different charm and beauty.
Walking in from Tournaboup parking area up to the Coubous lakes area, quite a few day trippers about not as busy as we thought it may be. We took a small path up over a steep col de Mounicot before descending into the Glere area where there is a refuge. We were higher up than here and found a wonderful camp spot to ourselves on Lac de Mourele. Perfect for a dip. We also lucked out and saw a Chamois and quite a few marmots too.
This was a big day as we were planning to take in Pic de Neouvielle at 3091m. We had spied the Col de Chausenque as a way up to join the main “toursit route” on the other side and hoped it would go. It was a steep boulder hopping 2 hours up with a 15 minute section of very loose and very steep terrain, not very nice! But the rest of it was OK. From there it was another boulder hopping route up to the summit. Quite busy mainly with Spaniards so we did not get the summit to ourselves but shared it with about a dozen others. Incredible views in every direction especially of Gavarnie. We were pondering a couple of different options from the summit but decided that with heavy packs maybe our scrambling plans were a tad over ambitious so we descended to Lac D’Aubert for the night. This is an official bivi site as officially there is no camping in the NP other than the 2 official bivi sites. As it was a Saturday we did not have the place to ourselves! But it was great to see so many people of all ages up there for the night, kids being introduced to camping in the mountains, climbers wanting an early start the next day, GR10 people. It was a quiet and chilled place even if it was busy. Did manage a lovely dip in the lakes which was great after a hard and long descent down.
Another glorious morning and we were up and away by 8am after brekky and de camping and had the next 2 hours pretty much to ourselves as we passed over the Col D’Aumar and down into the Estibere valley with lots of pretty lakes before arriving at the large Lac de L’Oule, good snack stop here before joining the GR10 and yomping up to Refuge Bastan and beyond to the col. This was stunning with the lakes, fishermen were about and even some random ducks on one of the lakes! We had a quick lunch near the refuge before continuing up to a col with the hope to climb Pic de Bastan. It was just beginning to cloud over at the col and we looked at the way up the Pic and it did not look tempting at all, loose rock never great so we decided we would pop over another col and head to Lac de Bastan to camp. Good call!!!
Found a superb camp spot again to ourselves with sun till 745pm. As we got to the camp spot the clouds cleared and we had a glorious evening. Even Al joined me for a dip! Lots of marmot action and birds and of prey which we are struggling to identify! Think we are both looking forward to non dehydrated food again!
Woke to an amazing morning, one of those mornings that you pinch yourselves and say how lucky are we! Blue skies all around us, cloud in the valleys below, wonderful light on the lakes and a peak to climb! A gorgeous walk up to Col de Nere and then a scramble route up to Pic D’Aygues Cluses, a small peak but a really gorgeous one. Sat at the top in the sun on our own taking in the wonderful surroundings. It could not have been nicer. Scrambled across the ridge and down the other side to the next col. We were on the shady and windy side of the ridge and it was freezing! Hats, gloves and layers went on for 30 mins till we got to the col to defrost!
The ridge ahead looked tempting but will have to wait until another day due to time. We ambled down the beautiful Aygues Cluse valley following the beautiful river on easy terrain. A new refuge is being built by the lake and looks like it will be open next summer with current progress.
Our final stop was by the river for a quick lunch before heading back to Billy.
Would highly recommend this area to anyone who enjoys hiking we loved it. And if anyone can help us identify any of the birds that would be ace.
A fantastic few days away with hubby and the tent, nothing could have been nicer. Re charged and pleasantly pooped!