This blog describes my 24-day traverse of the Pyrenees from Atlantic to Mediterranean, July 2011.
The Pyrenean Haute Route is around 800km with 42,000 metres of ascent.

Map of the route | Schedule

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24

Friday, February 4, 2011


I've now acquired the 10 maps required for the HRP, published by Rando Editions at 1:50,000:

1. Pays Basque Ouest, Carte No.1
Hendaye - Arizkun

2. Pays Basque Est, Carte No.2
Aldudes - Refuge de Belagua

3. Bearn, Carte No.3
Lescun - Candanchu - Refuge de Pombie - Refuge Wallon - Refuge de Baysselance

4. Bigorre, Carte No.4
Refuge Wallon - Refuge de Baysselance - Gavarnie - Heas - Parzan

5. Luchon, Carte No.5
Biados - Hospital de Benasque - Hospital de Vielha

6. Pica d'Estats, Carte No.22
Hospital de Vielha - Salardu - Pla de Boet

7. Haute-Ariege, Carte No.7
Port de Bouet (Andorra) - l'Hospital pres l'Andorre - Refuge des Bouillouses

8. Cerdagne-Capcir, Carte No.8
l'Hospital pres l'Andorre - Refuge des Bouillouses - Eyne - Refugi de Ull de Ter

9. Canigou, Carte No.10
Refugi de Ull de Ter - Canigou - Amelie les Bains

10. Roussillon, Carte No.11
Amelie les Bains - Col du Perthus - Banyuls-Sur-Mer


author said...

Hi Chris,
My name is Martin Stiles. I was doing some research for my own trip to europe for an HRP thru-hike when I came across your blog. The map with the refuges is great.
What week will you be starting?

- Martin

Chris said...

Hi Martin,
Thanks for getting in touch. I take it you're from the US?
Last year I hiked the GR11, which was fantastic
So I'm planning to attempt the HRP starting on 1st July 2011.
I've tried to fine tune that Google Map to understand the route and where the refuges are.
How's your own planning going?

Chris said...

Martin - I see you've been asking about gear on backpackinglight forum.

I've added this kitlist for what I took on the GR11.

Chris said...

For the HRP, I've already bought 3 new things:
1) Asics Trabuco Gel shoes
2) Camp Corsa ice axe
3) Kahtoola microspikes

I'm not 100% sure the axe and microspikes are necessary, but it could be dangerous crossing some passes without them.

Martin said...

Yes, i'm from the U.S. I am a french major and am studying in france
next autumn. Before i start classes in september i am hiking the HRP.
I appreciate the gear list. 10kg is very light!
Ironically, i just got the saucony xodus shoe for the HRP. what's your
opinion of the shoe?

Also, I am neither taking crampons nor an ice axe. The weight/cost is not worth it to me, but from what I hear it's personal preference and I am willing to re-route to a lower trail if there's a dangerous crossing. I guess I would like to take alpine gear if I were able to do more peak summiting.

Again, thanks for the info
- Martin

Chris said...

I think my backpack on the flight home was about 8kg, with water & food it is hard to get under 10kg. But a lighter pack means you can travel further, so you don't need to carry so much food and water!
I thought the Xodus shoes were too soft for the rocky trails. I got really sore feet and bad blisters from Day 2. I'm hoping that the Asics shoe gives my feet a bit more protection. I'll need to test out on some rocky trails beforehand.

The ice axe I plan to take weighs 200g, and the microspikes are about 300g. On the GR11 I "wasted" 1 complete day by attempting and failing on a pass, then hiking a long route around the hill. Plus I got myself into a situation where a slip would have meant a long fall. So I think I will bite the bullet and carry this extra kit, even if it might prove unnecessary. I think the trickiest sections of the HRP from Biaodos to Hospital Vielha can be avoided by following the GR11, but that doesn't appeal much, since I've done the GR11 already!

Martin said...

My base weight is at 8kg right now, which is a first for me, but I have been modifying my packing system to get it down to a lower weight for the HRP. I'm looking forward to some lightweight backpacking.

I've yet to test my Xodus shoes on anything strenuous yet, but based on your experience, the HRP will probably pretty rough on them. I will have to give this more thought.

I see your point about the ice axe/spikes, and I am definitely considering them. The cost is just not worth to me right now, though. We shall see...

Do you have an opinion about a self-inflating sleeping pad over a closed cell sleeping pad for this trip?

Chris said...

Hi Martin,
Personally I got really sore feet with the Xodus. I found the shoe way too soft for the rocky trails. The ice/spikes may prove to be unnecessary, or may prevent a huge detour or nasty fall. Personal choice.

I took a short pro-lite thermarest on the GR11. This allowed me to have everything packed inside my backpack apart from the tent and water bottle. I have the tent strapped on the outside for rapid access once you need to camp.

Do you have a rough number of days scheduled or a start date?

Martin said...

Your assesment of the shoes is helpful. I'll check into the Asics that you are using. I also may end up going with Montrail or Vasque.
I'm also on the look out for a good deal on a self-inflating sleeping pad.

I'm planning on taking 40 days to complete the trail. I'm sure I coild do it faster, but, taking my time appeals to me. I think the cultural aspects of this trail will be great and I want a few extra days in case I decide to explore any villages or something of that nature.
I'll be starting on July 8th

David Lintern said...


planning the same trip this year with some off roading to GR11 around Aneto if needs be, as no winter kit will be carried. Planning a start end june, as late august in Andorra can get stormy so I hear. Taking a tarp, ti stove but nervous about running shoes, want mids really.

Nice gr11 blog you have....I have TR's/photos etc on stage 2 of HRP from last year on my blog if that's helpful to you. good luck,

Chris said...

Hi David,
Good luck with your trek and thanks for the photos on your blog. The Pyrenees are just a fantastic area for long distance hikes. I've scheduled 23 days for the HRP, but I'm not sure if this is possible - a good chance I'll need to book another flight back, but we'll see. Good luck with your own trek!

David Lintern said...

yr fitter than I am - no, really! The fastest i heard of 1st hand was 29 days, but you are a runner, they weren't. The section of gr11 we walked wasn't so different to the HRP - the latter is a bit higher, therefore rockier and nav is a bit more tricky, but its often cooler so that makes up for it.

looks like yr map selection is taking you slightly north, whereas I am headed into aiguestortes more. I am mainly using Joosten guide, are u using Veron?

Chris said...

David, my plan is to follow the Joosten route from Edition 1 of the Cicerone guidebook. I will probably chop those maps down to just the areas I need, plus any possible route variants. There are 2 or 3 minor short cuts, I'm not sure whether I would take. I managed the GR11 in 23 days, and some of those days I stopped earlier than I needed to, so I'm hoping that with the HRP I will be less constrained to sticking with guidebook stages, since there will not be so many official campgrounds or villages at the end of the day. Anyhow, I've scheduled 23 days for the HRP with my flights, so that's what I need to try to do.

Anonymous said...

Chris, David, Martin, hi,
I'm having a bash at the whole HRP too, around about the same time as you chaps. I'm catching the train down on 30th June, so I'll probably bump into some of you.

I'd like to sound you all out on a few things, so I'll be popping up here and there over the next couple of weeks. Hope that's OK. Not sure what the blog etiquette is.

Given that this is Chris's 'Maps' post, I thought I might start my asking you, Chris: Why does your map choice differ from my Joosten recommendations. Is it because you are following his first edition? If so, why not the second edition?

Chris said...

Hi Andy, Thanks for dropping by. I now have both editions of Joosten, but have already marked up my maps and photocopied onto waterproof paper, so I intend to stick more or less to Edition 1. The variants in edition 2 are pretty minor and only seem to add on distance. Given that I only have 23 days for the trip, I need to take the most direct options possible!

Anonymous said...

Chris, thanks for your response. I have the requisite Rando Editions maps and see the HRP marked on them. I'm wondering which HRP that represents. Any idea? That you've marked up your maps suggests your not following the pre-marked route?

Chris said...

Hi Andy, I've marked up my maps with the exact route from Joosten edition 1. The HRP is already on the Rando 1:50,000 maps, but I highlight it with a marker to make it easier to read.

Trevor said...

I met up with Chris on the climb up to the Col du Salpomb on a very misty Wednesday evening 6th July. He was well but pretty tired having made up some lost time and managing to get a little ahead of schedule at that point. Had a beer and some food with him that evening and hiked out halfway along the route to Pic du Midi the following day. I left him upbeat, looking forward to the rest of the trip and smelling considerably better after his first shower since starting the trip.

Chris said...

Good to meet up with you Trevor at Col du Somport. It was a marvellous suprise to find that Auberge at the summit and to take my first shower for a week! Despite the excutiating pain in my feet, I felt much fresher the next day and made good progress to the Refuge du Pombie before promptly losing my map on the descent to the road crossing and having to leg it back up the hill in a complete panic to find the map fluttering in the breeze.

Sally Dykhuis said...

I plan to hike the HRP in August-September this year. Does anyone have HRP maps they'd like to loan or sell me? Email Sally at sallydykhuis at yahoo dot com. Thanks!

Maximiliano said...

Hi Chris,
Planning to do the HRP in early Sept, but could not get three maps recommended by Joosten:

Editorial Alpina map Baztan-Bidasoa
Rando maps 22 and 24

However, I see here that you seem to have used Rando 4 instead of 24 and Rando number 6 instead of 22, right? So that means if I get numbers 4 and 6 I won't need numbers 22 and 24? Alternatively, is there any way to use electronic maps combined with GPS or iPhone?



Edvenify said...

How necessary are the maps? Would the guidebook map be sufficient?