Walking Holidays Adventurer PRR
Adventurer – Peaks, ridges & Refuges
This week combines the exhilaration of reaching some of the Pyrenees’ highest peaks and hidden gems, with the comfort of returning to comfortable accommodation to recharge your batteries, ready for the next day’s walking.
Your guide will take you to the highest and most inaccessible parts of the Hautes Pyrénées , taking in some of the 3000m peaks, some scrambles and high ridges that are exposed but not technically difficult. Some of the walking will be “off path”, allowing us to see some of the wilder places where very few people visit. This area of the Pyrenees is the highest and most dramatic part of the chain, and there are numerous large peaks readily accessible to walkers. As part of your Adventurer guided walking week, you will also spend a night or more in a high mountain refuge.
Due to the altitude of the peaks and ridges in this area, Adventurer Walking holidays are not recommended before the end of June/early July, as there is a lot of lying snow in the Spring. Most of the peaks are then accessible until October.
This week is based from 3-star B&B chalet or hotel in the traditional French mountain villages, with a high standard of amenities to help you relax after your day’s walking. During the mini-trek, accommodation is in communal dormitories at a mountain refuge. Manned refuges are fully catered, so there is no need to carry bulky cooking or camping gear.
What the price includes
The price shown for an Adventurer guided mountain walking week includes:
- Ensuite accommodation in the chalet, Les Cailloux during your time in Barèges
- B&B (continental breakfast)
- 1 night’s accommodation and meals at a mountain refuge
- Packed lunch for each walking day
- Transport to and from the beginning and end of walks
- A qualified, experienced International Mountain Leader for all of your walks.
Please note: extra drinks and snacks are not included.
As with all mountain environments, the Pyrenean weather can be varied. Normally we have clear skies and sunny days over the Summer walking period but it can equally rain, snow, or be foggy. Evenings can also be chilly at high mountain refuges. We advise our guests to come prepared for any weather by bringing lots of layers. A walk that begins in rain can end in glorious sunshine and vice-versa. Because of the terrain you’ll be walking on and the way the weather can affect it, we always recommend you wear broken in, sturdy walking boots.
Your guide will plan your walks to make the most of the weather, which is why our itinerary isn’t totally fixed.
Please read our Kit List for more information on what we’d advise you bring with you.
A typical week’s itinerary:
Saturday – Arrival and settling in
We suggest a stroll round the village before dinner and your Welcome Talk, where we’ll go over details about what we’ll do over the week.
During your Welcome Talk you’ll meet your guide for the week. You’ll have a chance to find out about the week ahead, discuss logistics for it, and ask questions about where you are going and what you’ll be doing.
Sunday – Pène det Pouri (2587m)
An interesting introductory walk from the village, giving us a chance to get to know the area and view the week’s destinations from a prominent peak.
Leaving from the house (1250m), we cross the Bastan river and attack the horizon which dominates the view from our patio. A zig-zag path through mixed woodland takes us to the meadows of the Transarrious plateau. From here we take the Montagne Fleuri path, ascend to a rounded ridge and look down into a hidden cirque, strewn with ancient cabins and bergers’ paths. We continue up the ridge, enjoying the growing views of Barèges and the Col de Tourmalet, then climb into the cirque through wildflower-filled grassland to our lunch-spot below the peak. If we’re lucky, we might catch sight of an ‘isard’ (Pyrenean Chamois) while we eat. After lunch we make our final ascent to the summit of Pène det Pouri (2587m). The views from the peak are truly spectacular – look North beyond Lac Bleu, the deepest natural lake in the Pyrenees, to the plains, East to the observatory and the Pic du Midi, West across the Atlantic Pyrenees and South to the Spanish frontier and the Brèche de Roland. For the return, we retrace our steps to Barèges for a well-earned drink.
Monday – Col de Madamète (2509m)/Pic de Madamète (2657m)
We trek into the Néouvielle nature reserve and the National Park – a dramatic contrast to yesterday in this wild landscape of scattered granite boulders and miniature pine trees.
After a five minute drive to the Pont de la Gaubie (1538m), we begin our morning’s ascent along the GR10 and through the beautiful Aygues-Cluses valley. The path climbs gently under gnarled pine trees, then across pastures to the Lacs de Madamète – a good place for a snack before we climb up to the Col de Madamète (2509m).
You then have an optional ascent to the Pic de Madamète (2657m) for the more energetic walker. After a leisurely lunch, we make our way past a series of lovely lakes dotted about a huge valley filled with granite boulders. The landscape here in the Néouvielle Natural Park is very wild and rugged, with few signs of human passage.
From the Lac dets Coubous (2041m) we make our descent back to the Pont de La Gaubie on a good path, keeping an eye out for marmots on our way down. This is our favourite place for marmot-spotting.
Tuesday – Le Taillon (3144m)
A challenging ascent of an airy frontier peak at the imposing Spanish frontier. The landscape is one of towering cliffs and waterfalls, in the spectacular natural amphitheatre of the Cirque de Gavarnie.
We drive South through dramatic scenery to the Cirque de Gavarnie. This Cirque is an incredible wall of cliffs forming a crucible into which falls Europe’s highest freehanging waterfall. Starting at 2200m, we walk towards and then through the Breche de Roland passing over the remains of the Glacier du Breche on the way.
We then follow the cliff wall around on the Spanish side to the airy ridge which takes us up to the summit at 3144m. The route requires some easy climbing, and is quite exposed – with spectacular views into Spain. The descent is by the same route.
Wednesday – Free day
This is your free day to use as you please.
There are a range of options for your free day. You could visit Barèges’ thermal spa, the highest in France, or perhaps take a trip to the Pic du Midi observatory.
It’s also possible to take the bus to Luz St-Sauveur or the pretty spa town of Argelès-Gazost. Here you can stock up on the delicious local sheep’s cheeses and ‘saucisson sec’ (knobbly French salamis).
The pilgrimage town of Lourdes is also accessible by public transport (about 1hr by bus).
For those who can’t get enough exercise, there are plenty of trails to be explored on foot from Barèges, and we can arrange activities including paragliding, caving, rafting, pony trekking, mountain biking, canyoning etc.
Thursday – Overnight expedition: Day 1: Pont d’Espagne (1496m) to Oulettes de Gaube Refuge (2151m)
Today we have a wild walk, abandoning the tourist trail to discover a secret hanging valley and high lakes. It ends at the foot of the mighty Pic du Vignemale – the highest peak in the French Pyrenees.
We drive via the deep gorges of Pierrefitte and Cauterets, through the grand spa town of Cauterets and up to the Pont d’Espagne, passing several lovely waterfalls on the way.
At the Pont d’Espagne, we follow the main trail of the Vallee du Marcadau, which is very beautiful early in the morning.
Soon we leave the main path to climb steeply into a hanging valley – the Vallon du Pouey Trénous. In this wonderfully secluded valley, you can’t help but feel that you are in a true mountain wilderness.
Our route then climbs gently beside a rushing stream, before ascending to a small cirque and a dried glacial lake bed. Now we pick our way over huge granite boulders, to a narrow col below the Pic Peyrot (2703m). From here we have a wonderful view across to the Vignemale and down to the Lac du Chabarrou.
Our descent takes us steeply down a grassy hillside to the lakes (a great spot for a refreshing dip), where we rejoin a narrow path into the Vallée de Gaube.
The valley bottom is a well-travelled route, and we finish our day with an easy walk to the Refuge des Oulettes de Gaube – which we can be almost certain that no-one else has reached taking our path.
The Oulettes refuge sits on the outwash plain of the north face glacier of the Vignemale. This is the highest peak in the French Pyrenees and an awe-inspiring place to spend the night.
Friday – Expedition Day 2: Oulettes de Gaube Refuge (2151m) to Gavarnie (1365m)
Today we do an ascent of the Petit Vignemale and a stunning day’s descent past the Vignemale glacier, finishing at the famous Cirque de Gavarnie; a UNESCO world heritage site.
We leave the refuge early, while the valley bottom is deep in shade and the high peaks are touched by sunlight. This is a great time of day for spotting the elusive isards (Pyrenean chamois) and marmots.
Our first climb is a good warm-up, taking us to the Hourquette d’Ossoue (2734m), where we look down to the Baysellance refuge. Here we have an optional ascent of the Petit Vignemale – another high peak at 3032m.
The rest of the day is spent descending gently – across the foot of the glacier d’Ossoue on the East side of the Vignemale, and into a steep-sided valley with a lovely still lake.
Saturday – Free morning
The time is yours before you leave by mid-morning to make your way home.
There’s plenty of time for a rejuvenating dip in the thermal spa or a short local walk and lunch in a village restaurant. We can arrange to look after your luggage if you don’t need to leave the area until later and wish to still enjoy your time in the Pyrenees.
Please note this is a typical itinerary and your actual itinerary will depend on conditions such as the weather, the fitness, ability and tastes of your group. This is one of the benefits of a walking holiday with a qualified International Mountain Leader – they can adapt the day’s walking to the circumstances, to make sure you have as enjoyable and safe a holiday as possible.
Please check individual holiday descriptions to find out what the price includes. In some cases discounts are available for groups or family rooms. For some holidays accommodation is provided in mountain refuges, or by 3rd party suppliers – please see individual holiday descriptions for details.
|3rd – 10th||Walking – Spanish Pyrenees Kingdom of Aragon hike.||£810|
|10th-17th||Walking – Cathar country Explorer The Cathar Trail, castles, views and history of the Albigensian crusade.||£895|
|23rd-30th||Walking – Valleys & views Taster Sight seeing and walking||£810|
|30th-6th||Walking – Valleys, villages & cirques Explorer Gentle guided walking||£790|
|6th-13th||Walking – Lakes, cirques & summits Discoverer Intermediate guided walking||£790|
|13th-20th||Walking – Valleys, villages & cirques Explorer Gentle guided walking||£790|
|20th-27th||Walking – Lakes, cirques & summits Discoverer Intermediate guided walking||£790|
|20th-27th||Walking – Neouvielle Lakes – Discoverer walking (2 nights at manned refuges) – Pyrenees Lake District||£810|
|27th-4th||Hiking – Peaks, ridges & refuges Adventurer Unlimited trekking to the guides favourite spots, 1 night in catered refuge.||£810|
|27th-4th||Walking – Valleys & views Taster Sight seeing and walking||£810|
|4th-11th||Walking – Valleys, villages & cirques Explorer Gentle guided walking||£790|
|18th-25th||Trekking – HRP Stage 1 The Pyrenees Haute Route Trek (Coast to Coast long distance hike)||£890|
|18th-25th||Walking – Gavarnie & Ordesa Discoverer France and Spain inc. 2 night mini-trek in catered refuges||£810|
|18th-25th||Catered Accommodation for independent activities/hiking||£450|
|25th-1st||Trekking – HRP Stage 2 The Pyrenees Haute Route Trek (Coast to Coast long distance hike)||£890|
|25th-1st||Catered Accommodation for independent activities with afternoon tea||£450|
|CLOSED in 2020|
|5th-12th||Walking – Gavarnie & Ordesa Discoverer France and Spain inc. 2 night mini-trek in catered refuges||£810|
|5th-12th||Trekking – HRP Stage 1 The Pyrenees Haute Route Trek (Coast to Coast long distance hike)||£890|
|5th-12th||Catered Accommodation 4 nights Half board with afternoon tea and 3 nights B&B||£400|
|12th-19th||Walking – Valleys, villages & cirques Explorer Gentle guided walking||£790|
|12th-19th||Trekking – HRP Stage 2 The Pyrenees Haute Route Trek (Coast to Coast long distance hike)||£890|
|12th-19th||Bespoke guided walking/trekking/climbing/activity week Your choice! contact us||—|
|19th-26th||Trekking – HRP Stage 3 The Pyrenees Haute Route Trek (The Aneto -3404m, ascent stage)||£990|
|19th-26th||Walking – Lakes, cirques & summits Discoverer Intermediate guided walking||£790|
|26th-3rd||Walking – Gavarnie & Ordesa Discoverer France and Spain inc. 2 night mini-trek in catered refuges||£810|
|26th-3rd||Bespoke guided walking/trekking/climbing/activity week Your choice! contact us||—|
|4th-11th||Walking – Cathar country The Cathar Trail, castles, views and history of the Albigensian crusade.||£895|
|11th-18th||Walking – Spanish Pyrenees Kingdom of Aragon hike.||£810|