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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Monday, July 4, 2011

Day 4 - Refugio de Azpegi to Port de Larrau

4th July 2011

HRP - Day 4

It was cold and grey as I left Azpegi Refugio. The first few kilometres were all on small tarmac roads cutting through grazing pastures for wild horses and sheep. It was quite a soft gentle landscape with waves of hazy hills disappearing northwards into France.

After passing a small farm there was a steep rough descent to a footbridge, then zigzags climbing through sopping wet grass to the Col d'Errozate. It was all pretty quiet and deserted but for a few horses.

After crossing the road at Egurgui there was a very steep slog up a pathless hillside towards the Crete d'Urkulu before reaching a dirt track after the Col d'Oraaté which soon joins the GR10. Once on the GR10 the route find was pretty obvious and took a steep descent through woodland into a pleasant valley where I stopped at Chalet Pedro for some lunch - a much need bowl of pasta - my first proper meal since starting the route.

A group of 4 hikers on the next table left just before me, and I eventually met them again in a few hours time at the Col Bagargui. They were from Denmark and were hiking a few stages of the GR10. The shop at Col Bagargui was expensive and had very little selection which was slightly depressing, but not quite as depressing as the pain in my feet, which was now moderately excruciating. The Danes seemed rather surprised that I was continuing at around 4pm, but there were of course 5.5 hours of daylight left, so I had no choice.

The next section of trail seemed unnecessarily complicated in order to reach the Crete de Millagate and Col de Tharta, but from here the objective couldn't simpler since you have the mighty Pic d'Orhy staring you in the face.

I was slightly daunted to be starting this 600m climb up such an exciting looking mountain so late in the day, but I tried to rationalise what was the worst that could happen. And the sense of tension made me climb that much harder and faster.

The views were quite mesmerising, with wave up on wave of hazy hills vanishing to the horizon.

It was pretty cold and windy on the summit, and then very steep and rocky on the descent at first, so I couldn't really relax. Once a bit lower, the angle eased and at last I was just above the road at Port de Larrau where I bivvied for the night.

View HRP - Day 4 in a larger map

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