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

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Why would anyone want to hike across the Pyrenees?

Here's the answer:


David Lintern said...

that will do, you are permitted to leave early from school ;)

6millionsteps said...

Many thanks for this excellent blog. I have much enjoyed reading your trip report. It brought back many memories as well as introducing me to a few novelties.

I did the HRP back in 2000 when there was very little information online or in English. To my shame I never wrote it up; it was for me pre-blogging days. I used the J Pasqual site in French which I read from end to end a couple of times, and which provided me with the bare basics of Stages and Resupply points as well as a hint of what to expect.

I followed the Veron route - indeed I carried an English copy of his book which I had somehow found in Australia. Mostly I slept in refuges but I did bivvy a few times. Next time it will be mostly camping I suspect. I like the freedom and flexibility that that allows. Most of the people I have read in the last month seem to have done this, and for much the same reasons.

And I say next time because I have become thoroughly sucked into the idea of doing it again. Recently I was asked for some advice about hiking in Spain and decided to look again at the HRP. I was amazed at the amount of great information that is now available, indeed my principle task has been to filter and digest it into a more readily usable digital form.

I carried a GPS in 2000, but purely for recording where I had been. It was never really useful for navigation as the French maps I had then did not have suitable grids. Now I have three other recorded trails (yours being one of them) and my own all showing on a coloured OSM map. Brilliant. Thanks for sharing your info.

My timing was also a little different to yours. I took my time - 60 days of it! But this included some rest days and some time climbing one or two other peaks along the way. About half I did solo and the middle month with one Australian mate. I started on 10th August - the idea being to reach Garvarnie after the French had finished their holidays - and I reached Banyuls on the 6th October. The only seriously cold weather was snow on top of Le Canigou, where there was a frosting of a couple of inches of ice on the summit cross. So much for it getting warmer as you approached the Med.

This timing worked well. The refuges were open till the end and they were never crowded except at one weekend near Benasque. The weather was almost too good to be true, at least on the Spanish side. I took the variant via La Grande Fache as the weather was not good in France.

At the start I filled two little 15ml Nalgene bottles on the beach at Hendaye. I sent one home with my first outgoing package of films/book/maps (I used Poste Restante for a few mail drops). The other I carried to Banyuls and was lucky to have some companions at the end to record my libation into the Mediterranean. I then filled the empty bottle and now have (somewhere) one bottle labelled "Atlantic" and another "Mediterranean". It was my plan to photograph these for the back cover of the book I never wrote!

As some small thanks for all your good work, I can but offer this hint... Te Araroa. Perhaps you already know about it? It is long but immensely rewarding. It took me 180 days. You might be a little quicker methinks!

I have a bundle of useful documents and GPS related data which I'd be only too happy to share.

Happy trekking,

James Lomax said...

The Pyrenees are wonderful. Wild camping is easy and excellent, you can do it beside the huts for food, the weather is far better than you find in Scotland - summer is mostly sunny and settled - the scenery is first class and none of it, mostly, is technically harder than you find in Britain.