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
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Tom Martens grew up in Belgium and first visited the Pyrenees in 2008 with a friend who had made him enthusiast about the mountain chain. This first exploration was so enchanting that he has been back every year since then. He has hiked extensively in the national parks and has traversed the whole length of the Pyrenees several times. He has guided groups of youngsters on long, intensive hikes and climbed many of the peaks in the Pyrenees. So far, he has spent 300 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