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, July 6, 2011

Day 6 - Source de Marmitou to Col du Somport

6th July 2011

HRP - Day 6

Day 6, and my aim for the day was to see if I could reach Candanchu and rendezvous with Trevor Richens. The day started with a descent into freezing fog and pretty murky conditions all the way down to Lescun.

Lescun was a much greyer, duller place than I was expecting, but luckily it had an open supermarket and hotel next door where I could sit with a coffee for half hour, whilst trying to dry out my shoes and tape up my disintegrating toes.

I set off with slightly fresher feet, but a much heavier pack laden down with several days food, since I didn't know when I'd see another shop, or whether I'd definitely meet up with Trevor.

The trail lead up into a cloudy Labrenere valley, before climbing to the Col de Pau 1942m, where I suddenly burst out of the mist into bright sunshine. I had a chat with a Frenchman at the col before heading off towards Refuge d'Arlet on a fine trail with magnificent views. For the first time since starting, I was actually covering the ground at a reasonable pace so realised that reaching Candanchu that evening might be a possibility.

I texted Trevor who was just hiking out from Ordessa to Torla.

I now had a target to meet, but on the long zigzag descent towards Pla d'Espelunguere, there was nothing in the guidebook about turning right to reach the plateau, so I just kept on battering down the main forest road until I realised I was well below the turning off point. I probably should have turned around and gone back up, but the route sticking to the road now looked simpler and safer. The only problem was that I need to drop a further 300 metres down hairpins and then hike northwards before I could get onto the old road heading up to Col du Somport.

I now had a 600m+ ascent on tarmac in dwindling light, heading up into the mist. All I could do was to grind out the fastest walking pace I could manage, texted Trevor my ETA at the summit, and then fixated on my climbing rate on my Suunto.

With a mile or so to go, Nicki and Trevor suddenly appeared out of the mist in their hire car. Trevor jumped out and raced after me in his sandals brandishing a can of coke and bar of chocolate. This raised my spirits enormously and at around 9.45pm we reached the old border crossing and checked straight into an Auberge on the Spanish side. I then took my first shower since starting the trek, and sat down to a much-needed meal with Nicki and Trevor.

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