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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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 7 - Col du Somport to Refuge d'Arremoulit

7th July 2011

HRP - Day 7

After all the drama and excitement of reaching Col du Somport last night, it was quite hard to get going this morning, not helped by the unbelievable pain in my feet, like somebody smashing my toes with a hammer at every footstep.

Luckily the body and mind can only tolerate so much pain before eventually blotting it out, and half forgetting about it, but only if you keep moving. Therefore Trevor and I trudged up towards the deserted ski area of Astun for the climb to Col de Moines which leads back into France, with stunning views of mist swirling around Pic du Midi d'Ossau.

Trevor continued for another half hour or so before legging it back to Col du Somport, whilst I continued on towards Refuge de Pombie, which I'd last visited with Jeff Knight back in 1999. I stopped for an omelette for lunch before heading down the hill to Caillou de Soques. After a few minutes I was overheating, so put away my pertex top. Then in another 5 minutes or so I suddenly realised I didn't have my map any more. In a bit of a panic I ditched my rucksack and raced back up the hill. Luckily the map was sitting on the ground, and I could jog back down and continue as before. However, without the map it would have been difficult to carry on.

Having dodged this bullet, I vowed to be more careful in future. At the bottom of the descent I was back in thick fog, and really needed the map and description to locate the trail back up to Col d'Arrious. After the col was an exciting section known as the Passage d'Orteig protected by a handrail across a steep section.

A short rough rocky descent lead to the Refuge d'Arremoulit in a truly dramatic mountainous setting perch on the edge of a glacial lake. It was not all that late, but the prospect of continuing and bivvying in a wild rocky wilderness didn't seem that appealing, compared with a comfortable social evening in the refuge. So I checked in and went for a lie down whilst waiting for the evening meal.

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