Explore the Pyrenees with a Cicerone guide

Cover of The Pyrenean Haute Route
9 Mar 2012
17.2 x 11.6 x 2.1cm
1st Published
7 Apr 2009
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The Pyrenean Haute Route

by Ton Joosten
Book published by Cicerone Press

This handy guidebook contains route descriptions for the Pyrenean Haute Route. It zig-zags across the Franco-Spanish border and stays close to the main ridge of the Pyrenees. It covers 800km and has a total of 40km ascent, so is only suitable for experienced mountain walkers. The route is split over 45 day stages and is largely unwaymarked.

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Size: 17.2 x 11.6 x 2.1cm
Weight: 390g

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The Pyrenean Haute Route is probably the most scenic, spectacular and challenging walk in the Pyrenees, and has become one of the classic walks in Europe. Unlike the GR10 and GR11 the Haute Route crosses the French-Spanish border many times, exploring both sides of the mountain range and staying as close as possible to the main ridge of the Pyrenees. As a result the Haute Route leads the trekker through landscapes of immense variety and impeccable beauty.

The Pyrenean Haute Route is a long-distance footpath from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean that follows the main ridge of the Pyrenees. It covers 800km of spectacular and challenging trekking through the highest and best of the Pyrenees. The route is described in 45 day stages and is largely unwaymarked. Furthermore, throughout the route, there are numerous alternative routes that allow you to avoid a difficult section, should weather conditions not be in your favour.

The Haute Route is suitable only for experienced trekkers. Those who undertake it must have wide experience of walking on all sorts of terrain, including steep scree slopes, boulder fields and snowfields. Knowledge of how to navigate mountains in difficult conditions is also a prerequisite. The Haute Route leads sometimes through untamed, remote areas where there are no waymarks or paths. The ability to read the landscape is necessary; a good intuition of route finding is useful and knowledge of how to use a map and compass is indispensible.

In addition to the Pyrenean Haute Route, this guidebook contains descriptions for ascents of 10 classic Pyrenean summits: Grande Fache, Vignemale, Le Taillon, Piméné, Pic Perdiguère, Pico de Aneto, Montardo d’Aran, Mont Roig, Pic de Certascan and Pica d’Estats.

  • Activities
    trekking, backpacking, mountain-climbing, scrambling
  • Seasons
    Best months: July and August. August can be extremely warm, however, and thunderstorms are an everyday hazard! In June most high mountain passes are still covered with snow but it's a good time for both the first section and, from mid-June on, the final section (if you avoid Pic Carlit). Late August and the first days of September often bring a short period of extremely bad weather but afterwards the first half of September can be exceptionally beautiful. There will be frost at night from the second half of September. Snowfall in the high mountains is not uncommon in September. Be ready for anything!
  • Centres
    runs from Hendaye to Banyuls-sur-Mer, with nearest major towns: Bayonne, Pau, Tarbes, Foix, Perpignan and Toulouse
  • Difficulty
    Each day walk and variant is graded on a scale of 1 to 4, from E for exceptionally challenging (moderate scrambling, exposure, glaciers) to 3 for short, easy, waymarked routes. Most are graded 2 and represent a good day's walk with significant ascent and descent but no major obstacles in good weather.
  • Must See
    the 10 summits: Grande Fache, Vignemale, La Taillon, Pimene, Pic Perdiguere, Pico de Aneto, Montardo d'Aran, Mont Roig, Pic de Certascan and Pica d'Estats; the national parks: Parc National des Pyrénées Occidentales and Parc National d’Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici; mountain lakes, cirques, canyons, peaks and pine forests.

August 2013

Refugi de Certascan to Pla de Boavi:
A Reader has commented that there is a well tagged way with waymarks and cairns between these refuges; it may not be necessary to improvise through the forest here.

With thanks to H. Setzer

February 2013

The Editorial Alpina map mentioned in the book is no longer in print. A recommended alternative is from the official 1:25,000 series, number 91-1.

Many thanks to The Map Shop for this information.


GPS points

GPS points in this book use the UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) system


Preface to the second edition   


When to go   
How to get there   
Essential things to take    
Food and water   
Money and insurance  
Walks and climbs in this guide   
Mountain safety and first aid   
National parks   
Wildlife and flowers   


Section 1 Hendaye to Lescun   

Day 1     Hendaye to Col de Lizuniaga   
Day 2     Col de Lizuniaga to Arizkun   
Day 3     Arizkun to Les Aldudes   
Day 4     Les Aldudes to Roncevalles   
Day 5     Roncevalles to Egurgui   
Day 6     Egurgui to Col Bagargui   
Day 7     Col Bagargui to Cabane Ardané   
Day 8     Cabane Ardané to Source de Marmitou   
Day 9     Source de Marmitou to Lescun    


Section 2 Lescun to Gavarnie   

Day 10     Lescun to Refuge d’Arlet   
Day 11     Refuge d’Arlet to Candanchu   
Day 12     Candanchu to Refuge de Pombie   
    Variant: From Lac de Peyreget via the Col de l’Iou (2194m) to Refuge de Pombie   
    An easy summit: Pic d’Ayous (2288m)   
Day 13     Refuge de Pombie to Refuge de Larribet   
Day 14     Refuge de Larribet to Refuge Wallon   
    Variant: Refuge d’Arrémoulit to Refuge Wallon   
    Ten classic summits – 1: Grande Fache (3005m) from Refuge Wallon   
Day 15     Refuge Wallon to Refuge de Bayssellance   
    Ten classic summits – 2: The Vignemale (3298m) from the Refuge de Bayssellance   
Day 16     Refuge de Bayssellance to Gavarnie   
    Ten classic summits – 3: Le Taillon (3144m) from Gavarnie   


Section 3: Gavarnie to Salardu   

Day 17     Gavarnie to Héas   
    Ten classic summits – 4: Piméné (2801m) from Refuge des Espuguettes   
Day 18     Héas to Parzan   
Day 19     Parzan to Refugio de Viados   
Day 20     Refugio de Viados to Refuge de la Soula   
Day 21     Refuge de la Soula to Refuge du Portillon   
    Ten classic summits – 5: Pic Perdiguère (3222m) from Refuge du Portillon   
Day 22     Refuge du Portillon to Refugio de la Renclusa   
    Ten classic summits – 6: Pico de Aneto (3404m) from Refugio de la Renclusa   
    Haute Route escape route: From Refugio de la Renclusa to Bagnères-de-Luchon   
    Variant: Hospital de Benasque – GR11 trail   
Day 23     Refugio de la Renclusa to Hospital de Vielha   
Day 24     Hospital de Vielha to Refugi de la Restanca   
    Variant: GR11 from Estany de Rius to Refugi de la Restanca   
Day 25     Refugi de la Restanca to Salardu   
    Ten classic summits – 7: Montardo d’Aran (2826m) from Coll de Crestada   
    3-day Variant – GR11 from Viados to Hospital de Vielha    


Section 4: Salardu to l’Hospitalet-près-l’Andorre   

Day 26     Salardu to Refugi Gracia Airoto   
Day 27     Refugi Gracia Airoto to Alos de Isil   
Day 28     Alos de Isil to Refugi Enric Pujol   
    Ten classic summits – 8: Mont Roig (2868m) from Refugi Enric Puyol   
Day 29     Refugi Enric Pujol to Refugi de Certascan   
    Variant 1: Via Tavascan to Pla de Boavi   
    Variant 2: Noarre via Camping Masia ‘Bordes de Graus’   
    Ten classic summits – 9: Pic de Certascan (2853m) from Col de Certascan   
Day 30     Refugi de Certascan to Refugi del Cinquantenari   
    Short-cut: From Coll de Sellente to Estany de Sottlo  
Day 31     Refugi del Cinquantenari to Refugi de Coma Pedrosa   
    Ten classic summits – 10: Pica d’Estats (3143m) and Montcalm (3077m) from Refugi de Vall Ferrera   
Day 32     Refugi de Coma Pedrosa to El Serrat   
Day 33     El Serrat to Cabana Coms de Jan   
Day 34     Cabane Coms de Jan to Refuge du Rulhe   
Day 35     Refuge du Rulhe to l’Hospitalet-près-l’Andorre   


Section 5: L’Hospitalet-près-l’Andorre to Banyuls-sur-Mer   

Day 36     L’Hospitalet-près-l’Andorre to Refuge des Bésines   
Day 37     Refuge des Bésines to Barrage des Bouillouses   
    Variant: GR10 avoiding Pic Carlit   
    Consolation walk 1: From Chalet-Refuge des Bouillouses to Pic Carlit summit   
Day 38     Barrage des Bouillouses to Eyne   
Day 39     Eyne to Refugi d’Ull de Ter   
Day 40     Refugi d’Ull de Ter to Refuge de Mariailles   
Day 41     Refuge de Mariailles to Mines de Batère   
    Variant: The GR10 from Refuge de Mariailles to Chalet-Refuge des Cortalets         
    Consolation walk 2: The ascent of Canigou from Cortalets   
Day 42     Mines de Batère to Moulin de la Palette   
Day 43     Moulin de la Palette to Las Illas   
Day 44     Las Illas to Col de l’Ouillat   
Day 45     Col de l’Ouillat to Banyuls-sur-Mer   

Appendix 1     Useful addresses   
Appendix 2     Glossary   
Appendix 3     Facilities list       

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