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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Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 15 - Estany deth Cap deth Port to Estany d'Airoto

15th July 2011

HRP - Day 15

The next day, thankfully my ankle was OK... I was away from Estany deth Cap deth Port at daybreak, slightly nervous about reaching the Salardu shop before siesta. The initial section was on vaguely familiar terrain having hiked this during the GR11 last year. At Refuge Colomers I peeled off northwards at the dam to descend a nice broad valley. Luckily I reached Salardu at about 12.50pm with the shop closing at 1.15pm. I grabbed some food, and also bought some more strapping and ibuprofen at the pharmacy. Whilst re-packing I lost patience with lugging around the Kahtoola Microspikes, so left them behind under the bench.

I grabbed a quick plate of pasta before setting off on the afternoon shift. Initially the route appeared to be heading in completely the wrong direction, but in fact picked up a nice shaded trail through the woods before hitting dirt roads up to the vast skiiing area covered with grazing horses. The climb continued steadily past a few lakes until I suddenly bumped into Rick DeLong coming the other way. We had corresponded by email beforehand, so it was good to meet in person. Rick had already thru-hiked the PCT so knew all about travelling light, and had a pack way lighter than mine. We chatted for half an hour before heading our separate ways. I was a bit anxious now that it was getting late as I flogged steeply up Tuc Something. A pretty dramatic rocky summit. The continuation along the ridge was seriously rocky and slow-going.

I eventually reached the Coll d'Airoto and my plan was to drop to the Refuge d'Airoto which has a water source, but I made the mistake of trying to go around the lake on the north-eastern side which turned out to be an horrific boulder field that was wearing on the nerves and time-consuming. So I kind of ran out of time to get to the refuge and instead just wind-camped high above the lake on the first bit of flat ground I could find. This meant I had very little water for the night which wasn't ideal.

View HRP - Day 15 in a larger map


Storm said...

Hi Chris, I just recently completed the HRP folloing Cicerone's guidebook and I've gome some doubts about this section. I'm trying to find out whether the author's description is bogus or whether I made a mistake.
When you reached the end of the last large lake and started climbing the ridge towards Tuc Something (Tuc Marimanya), did you go straight on from the, up the steep part of the ridge and then straight on along the next ridge towards Coll d'Airoto?
I'm asking because I turned left after the lake, walked to its other side, where the actual summit was according to my map, and started climbing in a sort of "corner", where the ridge makes a 90° turn. I reached a narrow gap in the ridge, climbed to the summit on the left hand side (there's a small concrete block with MP written on it), but that was the wrong way, so I went back down to the gap and continued below the next ridge, on its left side, on huge boulders. There was a tiny lake down below on my left and when I got to the other side I had to walk a couple of hundred metres to get to Coll d'Airoto.
If you remember this part, could you please get back to me? I just want to know whether the guidebook sent me completely off track (in which case I'll kick Ton Joosten's ass) or if I just misunderstood the instructions. Cheers, Jiri.

Chris said...

Hi Jiri, Thanks for your comment, and well done on your own HRP crossing in 36 days. You've got some good photos, and much better than I got on Pic Canigou. I meant to correct Tuc 'Something' but never got round to it. I do remember getting slightly confused on that section and it being pretty rough. I did try to descent to Refuge d'Airoto to get water for the night, but ended up in some enormous near lethal boulder field, and eventually gave up trying to reach the refuge and hence spent the evening and night with no water, which wasn't much fun. Cheers, Chris

Storm said...

Yeah that part was very rough. Looking back I think I made a mistake and climbed to the left of that Tuc instead of going straight up (although I still blame the book for being unclear on that part). The part after Coll d'Airoto was even worse, it took me several hours to get through that second boulder field and some of those rocks weren't very stable, I nearly fell at one point. There's a path on the left side of the lake, high above the water, but I missed it and ended up walking to the shore and then to the refuge.

Thanks for the quick reply btw. 36 days isn't bad I guess but if I had managed to get my lazy ass up early in the morning I could have done it much quicker :)

Chris said...

I distinctly remember climbing up a steep strip of grass to a rocky ridge to the right of the main Tuc peak, then turning left to reach the summit via some steep rocky ground. The stretch of ridge running eastwards was fairly rough to Coll d'Airoto, but that boulder field above Estany d'Airoto was something else. I think I crossed it too high, and eventually gave up with the idea of trying to get down to the refuge, and instead just camped on the first available flat bit of ground.

I was much more time-pressued than you and needed to finish in 24 days, or I'd have missed my flight home. Hence I needed to be up at 5am most mornings.

Storm said...

Now that's a motivation. I shan't buy a one-way ticket next time. Thanks again for your feedback, very useful!