The Pyrenean Haute Route
The HRP high-level trail
By Tom Martens
Guidebook to trekking the Pyrenean Haute Route, which zigzags across the Franco-Spanish border, staying close to the main ridge in the highest and most spectacular Central Pyrenees. It covers 750km with over 40km of ascent, so is suitable for experienced mountain walkers only. The largely unwaymarked route is presented in 44 stages.
SeasonsThe Pyrenean Haute Route is a summer route that is best hiked between late June and early October, when the days are long, the weather more settled and most of the snow has melted.
CentresHendaye, Lescun, Gavarnie, Benasque, Vielha e Mijaran, Tavascan, l'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre, Banyuls-sur-Mer
DifficultyGrades are used to give an indication of difficulty. Most of the 44 stages fall into Grade 2 (5-7 hour stages with a reasonable amount of ascent and descent) and should be within the capabilities of an experienced hiker. A small number are longer, more demanding routes (Grade 3) and a few are short, easy hikes (Grade 1). Three stages are graded E for 'exceptional': these routes contain steep and exposed sections requiring great care. Crampons and ice axe may be needed on some stages in early summer, but for each of these stages, an easier alternative is described.
Must SeeThe karst landscapes surrounding Pic d'Anie, the Ossoue glacier on the famous Vignemale, the impressive Cirque de Gavarnie with one of Europe's highest waterfalls, the alpine landscapes in the Portillon region, Pico de Aneto (3404m - the highest peak in the Pyrenees), views of the Mediterranean from Pic du Canigou
A guidebook to trekking the 748km (465 mile) Pyrenean Haute Route (Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne, HRP) along the France–Spain border. Suitable for fit experienced trekkers comfortable with mountainous terrain, this challenging unwaymarked route traverses the Pyrenees from sea to sea, from Hendaye on the Atlantic Coast to Banyuls-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean, with the aim of staying as high as possible.
The PHR is divided into 44 graded stages of 8 to 28km (5–17 miles), nearly all ending at overnight accommodation. These are presented in 5 sections, which can be accessed by public transport, for the benefit of those wishing to trek only part of the route. Also included are optional ascents of 10 classic summits, including Vignemale, Le Taillon and Pico de Aneto.
- 1:100,000 mapping and elevation profile provided for each stage
- GPX files available for download
- Handy route summary and facilities tables help you plan your itinerary
- Accommodation and facilities
- Advice on planning and preparation, including equipment, supplies and safety considerations
Table of Contents
Tom Martens grew up in Belgium and first visited the Pyrenees in 2008 with a friend who had made him enthusiastic about the mountain chain. This first exploration was so enchanting that he has been back every year since. He has hiked extensively in the national parks and traversed the whole length of the Pyrenees several times. He has guided groups of youngsters on long, intensive hikes and climbed many of the high peaks. So far, he has spent 500 nights in the Pyrenees, mostly bivouacking. He has a special interest in mountain wildlife. Other regions where you can often find him hiking include Scotland and Estonia, where he currently lives.View author profile
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