Pyrenees

Discussion in 'Places & Planning' started by DuncanDo, Jan 24, 2017.

  1. DuncanDo

    DuncanDo Summit Camper

    Hi all,

    I'm planning a thru-hike of the Pyrenees this summer. I'll be leaving the west coast on/around 18 June and have six weeks to do it.

    The plan is to do a mix of the three classic routes though will likely stay principally on the Spanish side. Will aim to stay high and wild camp for the majority but descend to resupply etc.

    I'm keen to hear from anyone on here who has done any of the three routes, or who made up their own, as to how it went, their experiences and any bits of advice they'd like to pass on.

    Also, for anyone else planning to do the same this summer - don't forget Andy Howell's Pyrenees forum. If anyone else is planning to do it this year or next, do reply below - I'd love to hear what you've got planned and to compare notes!

    Duncan
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2017
  2. Arne L.

    Arne L. Section Hiker

    @Whiteburn has been there and has the HRP under his belt, be sure to check out his website.

    I've done sections of the GR10 and the HRP, mostly in the area around Gavarnie/Ordessa.

    It's a magnificent place.
  3. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    You'll find a lot of info:

    https://whiteburnswanderings.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/the-haute-route-pyrenees-hrp/ - C2C
    https://whiteburnswanderings.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/a-bit-of-gr11-slackpacking/ - C2Puigcerda
    https://whiteburnswanderings.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/hrp-revisited/ - Lescon2Latour

    I'm also planning to be back in the Pyrenees in 2017; probably Bidarray to Puigcerda (~500km) trying to stay high & take in bits I've not visited.
    Drop me a line with your email address & I can provide some info that you may find useful.
  4. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    I should have added that if you're planning the high passes on the HRP that it's probable that with a mid-June kick-off they'll still have a lot of snow. Suggest you monitor the Pyrenees skiing websites, some give historical snow depth data, & be prepared to carry an axe & spikes.
  5. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    Mr Whiteburn is a great source of info.

    I'll be there for about a month on HRPish routes this summer. Been a few times a while back.
  6. Chris2901

    Chris2901 Section Hiker

    You may also contact @Marco A. Sánchez of As Tucas ,who is a very experienced walker in this region.:thumbsup:
    Marco likes this.
  7. DuncanDo

    DuncanDo Summit Camper

    That's all brilliant, thanks everyone. @Whiteburn - I'll message you now.

    I'm hoping not to have to carry an ice axe and spikes - the aim is to use a combination of the three routes to avoid having to do so. That will likely mean changing the plan as we approach the mid-section/high Pyrenees depending upon what the local info is re snow levels. In particular, I'd be keen to hear from anyone who did exactly that or from anyone who thinks that isn't doable.
  8. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    Doable... but with big detours perhaps..

    Axe and crampons... 600g - not a killer
  9. DuncanDo

    DuncanDo Summit Camper

    Thanks @edh. I fear mention of ice axe and crampons may put my wife off coming so I'm keen to find an alternative. Having just read his report, looks like @Whiteburn found a way without the axe for the HRP in 2014.
  10. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    Camp Corsa, 205g & Vargo Ti Cleats, 120g = 325g :)
    DuncanDo and edh like this.
  11. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    Yep, well - the Vargos I have looked at, not convinced... for me.
  12. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    They good for what they're intended.....low angle glacier travel......<20deg
    I think I pushed them well beyond their design point but I was generally thankful for the additional security Vs bare trail shoes on +45deg hard snow. I found the front section spread far enough for the toe strap to come off.......have been meaning to get around to adding a wire link to stop this but..........
    edh likes this.
  13. tom

    tom Thru Hiker

    @Whiteburn - same here, pushed them well beyond and they are excellent for what they are. I made a linelock-dyneema heel strap which feels a bit more solid but I also thought I should add a wire link between the front sections. Used them 2 years now occasionally and been very useful - not just on ice...
  14. tom

    tom Thru Hiker

    Regarding HRP and GR11 - snow and ice levels vary greatly, not just from year to year but also locally within a few miles radius (probably to do with orientation and wind directions). I've been a few times, not through-hiked but HRP and GR11 sections and had quite a few surprises even in late July. I wouldn't expect much snow and ice on the GR10 (which doesn't stay high usually). But for the high routes, its best to be prepared IMO as there aren't always that many alternative routes. I'll be heading back myself this summer - hoping to do some bits I missed out on previously.
    Mole likes this.
  15. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    We can all compare traction - devices on a snowy col
    Mole likes this.
  16. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    One advantage of doing the HRP West to East is that the high passes become increasingly more technical as you go.

    If you’re feeling nervous over Port du Lavedan (2615m) best not to tackle Col de Cambales (2706m); nip over Col de la Fache (2664m) to the Wallon & then plan on bypassing the other biggies.

    If the Col de Cambales feels dodgy forget the Col des Gourgs-Blancs (2877m), Col Inferieur de Literole (2983m) & Coll de Mulleres (2928m) they’re IME a more serious undertaking.
    Mole and tom like this.
  17. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    Far better to compare kit over a large flagon of Vino Tinto :)
    Mole, JKM, tom and 1 other person like this.
  18. Max

    Max Ultralighter

    I walked the GR 11 coast to coast last August it was the most wonderful walk. I camped every night, had a swim most days, did a little bit of climbing, all good.
    You will have a great time. I completed in 32 days but wasn't really pushing it, six weeks will give you enough time to get some of the 3000m tops in.
    This year I'm planning to do the HRP E to W, then back along the GR10 to finish in Santiago after starting the Camino del Norte in Irun.
    Mike_D, Mole, Lady Grey and 3 others like this.
  19. DuncanDo

    DuncanDo Summit Camper

    @Max Did you take ice axe and/or spikes?
  20. Marco

    Marco Ultralighter

    This will depend a lot on how snow evolves this year. We got loads of snow previous week, but who knows how weather will be next spring. Carrying spikes at least will be a good idea. Last year, most high passes required crampons until early / mid July for a safe crossing.
    Max, Mole, edh and 1 other person like this.
  21. Max

    Max Ultralighter

    @DuncanDo No spikes or ice axe mate. Not needed in August unless climbing some of the tops.
    Will be taking spikes this year, not sure about an ice axe I use poles so hoping for dual purpose use.
    edh, DuncanDo and Mole like this.
  22. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    Jealous of you folks who have time to do the full crossing. We've done 2 x 2 week trips mixing Mostly HRP and GR11 plus some other Spanish trail sections. Hope to go back this year. We go end Aug into first half of September. Not much snow then.
  23. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    I'd have time to do the whole thing but choose to miss the lower sections near the coasts..... and go to the Alps instead.

    It's not like the HRP actually exists as a route
  24. DuncanDo

    DuncanDo Summit Camper

    Ok, I think I've come round to taking spikes as a reasonable precaution. Current predicted base weight for this trip is approx. 5.3kgs so even another 300g would be ok. I should say that's based on kit got now - a spending blitz would lose 800g or so and get me down to c.4.5kgs. Oh, the temptation!

    Choice seems to be between Vargo Ti Cleats or the heavier duty Nortec spikes...
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
    edh likes this.
  25. DuncanDo

    DuncanDo Summit Camper

    The benefits of being self-employed
    edh likes this.

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