Panorama showing the Gavarnie ski area and Breche de Roland from the Col
Link to detailed route page and map click on route title
To get to the trail head you take a small road just outside Gedre which heads up to the Bridge at Pont de Sougue (1531m) – or at least it does in the summer. We had to park half way up at 1360m and booted / skinned up to the bridge.
Were surprised at the lack of snow on the lower pastures but decided to persevere and am very glad that we did. The snow cover improved and we had an excellent skin up to the Col, taking numerous photos en route. Quite a lot of other people were out and about but what was good is that only 3 people had descended from the Col. by the time we summited so the tracks had not been trashed – something that later groups had to contend with. From the Col we descended 80 metres or so to a shelf known locally as the ‘balcony’ with fantastic views of the Cirque and Gavarine ski resort as well as Pic de Lary. Mike suggested having lunch on the cliff edge, I felt very nauseous and declined his offer. Soon regained my appetite however.
All too soon we decided it was time to head down. The ski for me was good fun after the top section which I side slipped down. For Mike it was a different story entirely as the glue on his skins reacted with his ski wax and he ended up with big globs of glue all over the underside of his skis. Did not really make for a smooth descent. However, he did really well.
Skis are now in the shop being serviced and the skins cleaned and reglued… soon to be like new again.
What a day is all I can say. Ended by me buying Mike a rouge beer by accident, tasted like strawberry syrup from all accounts, my Blanche beer was much nicer.
Must say we did see some people snowshoeing this trail, would not fancy it myself as having to hike back down (rather than ski) makes it a long day. Also without very good technique getting up (and down) some of the steeper narrow sections just before the Col on snowshoes once all the fresh snow has been brushed off can’t be much fun.
Below is a video of our ski tour and below that is a screen show of some photos we took on the day.