A little Pyrenees trip - plans for the HRP august/september 2019

Discussion in 'Places & Planning' started by island, May 11, 2019.

  1. island

    island Backpacker

    I thought I'd start my own planning thread - more as a way of keeping track of what we are doing and hopefully with some input from anyone with advice.

    I first went to the Pyrenees in the late 90's. I was studying archaeology and had a professor with a house in Lescun, I'd done some walking and camping before and the opportunity came up to spend the whole summer surveying for Neolithic remains. It was a landscape survey of an area roughly from Echo to Candanchu and a bit over to Lescun. Two of us stayed at the Selva de Oza campsite and walked out everyday with a range of gear to either look for dolmens or draw/map them. A great summer! A lot of sun, a bit of snow and some rain too.

    I had another trip several years later solo walking on the HRP from Candanchu to Wallon and then out via the Marcadau valley to Cauterets. Only a few days but a great time. I enjoyed the Resposumo/ Col de la Fache variant.

    Another trip a few years back... I went with a friend to Torla and then walked up and around Ordesa, to the Breche de Roland and then across to the Pico de Salarons and down to Torla again. Only a few days but fun.

    I've done other walking too, the Alps, Nepal etc I had a nice trip with French friends to the Queyras more recently, we went from refuge to refuge. I've decided that I'm not that keen on refuge bouncing, there is always a room full of snorers it seems!

    I'll have about 6 weeks at the end of the summer to try and walk the HRP with my girlfriend. We've been making gear choices and some changes. I think we're getting there...

    Hoping to go from 19th August onwards. It was going to be the start of September but have shifted it a bit earlier in an effort to avoid too much cold weather in October.

    We've been looking at routes and I'm keen to take a flexible approach depending on conditions. I'd like to walk back through the Selva de Oza area (probably just passing the Ibon de Acherito on the HRP would do it for me), I liked the Resposumo variant so am hoping to do that and then the rest depends on weather etc. Happy to drop onto the GR trails too.

    I'm revising a lighterpack list and I'll add that soon but here is a basic summary:

    Sleep
    Tarptent Stratospire Li
    Neoair - woman's
    Neoair - large (possibly cut down, not sure about taking a knife to it...)
    Cumulus 450 for her.
    Cumulus 350+ for me (added a bit more down)

    From looking at the temperatures it can get down to -5C. I think most nights might be 0C to -2C.
    I have a Arc'Teryx Cerium LT hooded jacket that I can sleep in along with an Icebreaker 175 top and 175 leggings in case of anything below -4C. And Corrymoor socks. GF has the same but I think she will be toasty in the Q450.

    Cook
    Trail Designs - TriTi Sidewinder with EN 1.3 litre pot

    Alcohol seems the way to go in the Pyrenees. I always took an MSR Whisperlite but it seems so heavy now compared to titanium. I was never that keen on petrol as a fuel too....

    Rain
    I have a OR Helium II that I've just reproofed. I bought a 3FUL rain skirt too, never tried it and might be rubbish in the wind but we will see. GF has Marmot Precip jacket and trousers.

    Wind
    I have a Patagonia Houdini that I live in. Often it's windy here but not rainy and it's light enough to carry everywhere - 3 years old and no sign of wearing out. I use it in the Alps, on the bike, walking, out on boats...
    Looking at getting some wind trousers - possibly the EE ones, possibly the Montbell ones. I'm thinking shorts then as it gets colder, layering up with the Icebreaker 175 leggings and finally wind trousers.

    Anyway, plenty more to sort out...
    Ed
    Nick and fluffkitten like this.
  2. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    Cumulus 450 for your GF. How warm/cold does your GF sleep ?

    I have a Cumulus 450 - I have added some extra down so probably more like 500+ now.
    I can just be OK at 0C if I pile on the clothing (down troos and pullover).
    Not the "fault" of the SB - just that some of us sleep 'cold' - females in particular.
    Have you tested it out in conditions similar to those expected in the Pyrenees ?

    PS. Hope I'm not "teaching you to suck eggs" ? :cautious:
    island likes this.
  3. island

    island Backpacker

    Thanks Cathy - any advice is good. They're adding more down to it. Should be a 450+. So maybe a rating of -2C to -8C. She thinks she'll be in the middle of that range...
    Yeah, it is a gamble as we won't be able to try it out before the trip (big fridge?!) As others have mentioned, below this rating it makes sense to go to a sleeping bag.
    I asked for a bit more down in my 350 as well. Might be rated at 1C to -5C.
  4. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    You may want to consider a silk SB liner, I think mine's about 125g.
    I've found that at low altitude my Cumulus 250 quilt to be tooooo warm in August & just used the liner; mind I can sleep comfortably down to zero using the quilt with a thin base layer. Liner would add a couple of degrees to the rating & would also come in handy if in late September if its cold & you want to use Gite/ Refuges (SB liner + blanket sufficient).
    island likes this.
  5. island

    island Backpacker

    Thanks Whiteburn, I have a silk liner and normally use it but wasn't sure for this trip. Good call as there will be a range of temperatures and also planning on staying at a few refuges, so will be handy as you say.
  6. Clare

    Clare Thru Hiker

    As tucas does nice wind trousers too and is EU based. Spain.
    island likes this.
  7. island

    island Backpacker

    Oo nice. Haven't seen them. Anything EU is great for me as its Vat free here in Guernsey.

    Not so great living here digitally... Tried to get the View ranger app on my phone and is 'not available in your country'.
  8. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    The Viewranger Pyrenees 'strip' map is not bad BUT the component of the maps for the Spanish side aren't too hot.
    On the phone I use Topopirineos which has a lot more detail in terms of paths but visually unappealing & its in Garmin format so you need an app that can read, such as Oruxmaps.
    island likes this.
  9. gixer

    gixer Thru Hiker

    Not had a problem using Viewranger anywhere else in Europe

    You can always use a VPN though
    Best i'm finding currently is ExpressVPN

    There are 2 servers in London (Docklands and East London)
    With this connected Viewranger will have no idea you're outside the UK
    Diddi and island like this.
  10. tom

    tom Thru Hiker

    Cutting and sealing TR airmats is very easy and safe. Just make sure the fabric doesn't develop folds but you can reseal if there is a problem. I alway make a 1cm seam for safety. I once had a seamsplit in the Pyrenees but quickly sorted it by borrowing a hot iron in a guest house.

    The 3F rainskirt is not enough in wind unless you are slim and up to 5'5" (I gave mine to a friend and it works for her) The MLD rainskirt has a lot more fabric and kept me dry in all weather (5'10") for the last 3 years.

    Wind trousers - As Tucas Milaris are great as well as the Inov8 ones (I reviewed them here recently).

    For myself, I hike in shorts till end September at least and then in baselayer+shorts+windpants combi as winter kit. The Pyrenees can be a bit unpredictable weather and temperaturewise but unlike the alps, conditions can vary greatly between closeby locations which helps.
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
    island likes this.
  11. Fair Weather Camper

    Fair Weather Camper Thru Hiker

    Just wondering if six weeks isn't a bit of a short time to do the whole length of the HRP, and really enjoy it?

    Most folks seem to reckon two months, unless they're going for some kind of glory chasing fkt?

    We've circumnavigated the coast of Guernsey - (and Herm) and then criss crossed the middle each way for luck - very nice - but opportunities for full on hill fittening must be limited.

    Are you planning on the purist 'coast to coast' HRP version?

    Or concentrating on the more exciting pointier parts in the mid section?

    Wouldn't mind doing the whole thing in one go.. Maybe one day - you are lucky to have six clear weeks to do something like that.

    Temperature wise at that time of year, you need to be prepared for really hot in the daytime, but also potentially very
    wet and cold at the same time.

    We've had some pretty chilly days of sleet / rain in the first part of September, all our clothes, and still not very warm.

    I usually take a synthetic jacket that I can walk in under a waterproof, if it's both wet and cold.
    Plus take a down jaket for more cosiness in camp - and for pillow making duties.

    Your archeology trip sounds great.. Love me a dolmen.

    It will still all be fantastic whatever you do.

    I first went to the Pyrenees when I was a ten (a couple of years back now) my pa was an academic geologist, so a lot of our 'holidays' centred around mapping expeditions..

    At the time I felt a teeny bit hard done by that we never went to holiday parks.. Looking back now, I realise how lucky I was..

    Ps totally agree re communal sleeping / snorers.. My normally peaceable sang-froid, tends towards thoughts of murder in those circumstances..

    Broad rule of thumb.. Dont share sleeping space with anyone, to whom a sharp elbow cannot be applied if they start up with that kind of racket. :whistling:
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
    cathyjc and island like this.
  12. island

    island Backpacker

    Yes, 6 weeks might not be enough but we're going to give it a go. There might be a bit of wiggle room with timings....

    In terms of getting fit, yes, it's hard on a flat small rock! There are some cliffs with paths to the south but they aren't very high. Quite a few steps but nothing like hills or mountains here. I use kettlebells, go cycling, go freediving. Trying to build up the kettlebell squats, especially with the 24kg one. Adding a few more hills and hill repeats in to the cycling and will start to take the long way home which is 20 miles rather than 3miles. Just done a 2.5 hr freedive session and will definitely sleep well tonight.

    Thanks @tom , going to have a look at the As Tucas Milaris. The material looks awesome. Will try and cut down my thermarest tomorrow morning (and try not to butcher it...).

    Been buying a bit of gear for us both, getting there...
    HRP Ciceronebook - looks great, need to read through it and make plans.
    Enkeeo poles for GF - look decent enough
    Black Diamond poles for me - heavier but will rely on them for the tent.
    Sawyer Micro - looks great, comes with the blue coupling so was planning on using with an Evernew 1.5 litre bag that I already have. Probably won't take the syringe and will backflush often with the bag and coupling.

    Waiting on the Tarptent Stratosphere Li.
    From what I've read it is a good idea to buy more line for peak guy outs. Will have a read about best line. I have quite alot of thin dyneema line from diving but might not be suitable. Stuff I have is 1.2mm and 1.5mm.
    The tent comes with pegs but I have always used shepherd pegs in the Pyrenees. Any advice on pegs? I read that it's good to buy two longer pegs for pegging out the ends.
    Titanium shepherd pegs? Others?

    I also bought a trowel, The Deuce #2. Is crazy light. Better than trying to find a stick....

    Spending lots but trying to get gear that will last (and the bank haven't rung me yet... eek).
  13. Clare

    Clare Thru Hiker

    Gold Easton pegs and ti nails (not shepherds hooks). I take 4 gold Easton’s, 2 ti nails and 2 small msr groundhogs. If TT haven’t yet dispatched your tent you could have the Eastons added to your parcel as they’re not easy to get in the EU.
    Mole likes this.
  14. Clare

    Clare Thru Hiker

    The Strat is supplied with blue Eastons. @Mole would/will say that the longer gold ones are essential on the PitchLoc ends. I basically just believe him although on hard ground the blues are probably fine as can’t knock in deep anyway. At least I can’t. And I swing kettlebells too :angelic:
    Mole and edh like this.
  15. Nick

    Nick Backpacker


    6 weeks is fine for the HRP, the first time we did it was a short school holiday and managed it in 32 days, more time is great but much more than about 36 days and we would have to start extending the route ;)
    Whiteburn and Mole like this.
  16. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    I suppose it depends what your priorities are, crossed paths with a Dutch couple in their mid-50's doing the GR11 one year & they were planning a 90 day crossing (they'd been on the trail ~50days). The only trouble with going slow is the amount of victuals you need to carry, my preference for long distance stuff is to travel efficient between resupply point & then take the time to enjoy some time out with 3 course meals & a bottle of wine :)
    cathyjc and Nick like this.
  17. Fair Weather Camper

    Fair Weather Camper Thru Hiker

    Definitely time out for enjoying slow, and satisfying meals...

    Why on earth would you stitch your way, back and forth through France and Spain, on meagre rations, working up a hearty appetite, and then not make the most of the delicious local fare on offer, when opportunity arises??

    Unconscionable :eek:
    Nick likes this.
  18. Nick

    Nick Backpacker


    On that occasion it was all we had, still managed fab sit down dinners in Lescun, Gavarnie, Benasque and Llorts, but we do both like to keep moving, 90 days I think we would look at GR10 back along GR11 and HRP back again :o o:;):wacky: maybe haha.
    Fair Weather Camper likes this.
  19. Fair Weather Camper

    Fair Weather Camper Thru Hiker

    Big talk Nick :rolleyes:

    Certainly a big walk..
  20. Nick

    Nick Backpacker


    You've made me feel so guilty about this years trip it's time to look towards Europe again............maybe cycle to the start as well :smile: !!
    oh for a little more time.....................and money.:thumbsdown:
    Fair Weather Camper likes this.
  21. Fair Weather Camper

    Fair Weather Camper Thru Hiker

    How so I've made you feel so guilty???

    What did I do / say??

    You can borrow my Ocean-going pedalo if that'll help :)

    But yes there's still plenty closer to home, Eastern Europe, Africa, Scandilands all perfectly reachable by train too.. :angelic:
    Nick likes this.
  22. Nick

    Nick Backpacker


    First time in about 15 years we are getting on a plane and someone far more enlightened keeps posting environmental apocalypse end plane travel posts, SORRY SORRY please forgive this momentary lapse ................................. should stay at home with my new tent :wacky: hate flying anyway :sick: due to be on Boeing Max fall out of sky planes too! x
    Fair Weather Camper likes this.
  23. Fair Weather Camper

    Fair Weather Camper Thru Hiker

    Well if everyone only flew every fifteen years it might be a bit more ok.

    Moreover, i can hardly point the finger anyhows - I'm always setting fire to sh*t..

    Not to mention endlessly tractorising about the place.

    We can all, only do, what we can do (or not do) in the system as it is... Much of it is stacked against us 'doing the right thing' atm - somehow that needs to change.

    Anyway fret not Nick there's still time to sign up for this for next year, to revamp your eco-halo :angelic:

    Which might also appease the "Metal Tube Stays in the Sky Please" Pixies :redface:
    Nick likes this.
  24. Nick

    Nick Backpacker

    I think we may have wittered enough on a fine Pyrenean thread :stop: Setting fire to sh*t is a basic requirement so doesn't count but you do need to develop that solar tractor. Signed :rolleyeses: x
    Fair Weather Camper likes this.
  25. Fair Weather Camper

    Fair Weather Camper Thru Hiker

    Mmn Sir, yes sir...Scurries off to workshop, head bowed with industrial intent, suitably admonished :angelic: :geek:

    So let's get ourselves back to "Much Wittering about the Pyrenees" - A far more titillating subject :x3:

    editted for kisses x x
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
    Nick likes this.

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