Misty view across to Col de Pouey Laou from valley leading to Wallon Hut
Link to detailed route page and map click on route title. Note the second map is for an extension to some lakes above the Refuge which we chose not to do the day we went up due to lack of time (and energy)
A good reference book is ‘Ski Randinnee dans Les Hautes-Pyrenees’ by Frederic Cabot. He describes the tour to the hut as well as a couple of tours from the hut – all in French. It is also described in the book by Oliver Guix ‘Les Hautes-Pyrenees en Racquettes’ which I find very useful.
We started from Pont D’Espagne and took the cross country ski trails up to the bridge at Pont d Estalounque. We were pleasantly surprised as we had not expected the groomed XC trail to go that far. However we were also aware that across the Marcadau Valley, a high plateau for XC skiing, that we would need to pole or at least release our heels in order to get across the long fairly flat terrain. Makes for a slower return.
After the bridge we entered another charming wide valley, where on return in the afternoon we saw numerous family groups picnicking and having fun. Ideal destination for snowshoers and XC skiers. However, we had the valley to ourselves on our way up. The valley then narrows into a steep sided gorge and the trail stays to the right of the river and we had a rolling uphill ascent over the shoulder through beautiful woods to reach the Plateau de la Gole on which the Refuge is located.
Even though the Sun didn’t fully burn through the cloud, I could see that the surrounding mountain ranges and the Plateau were truly beautiful with many opportunities for tourning. The Refuge was open so we ordered a couple of bowls of tea to have with our sarnies sitting on the stone pillars which in the summer would border the terrace.
Decided that it was best to keep our skins on for the return journey at least to the downhill section of the XC trail due to the rolling nature of the terrain and also the fact that for a large part of the return we needed to stay on the trail – shared with others. Interesting to ski downhill with skins on and our heels free. XC skiing has helped us hone our skills in this regard!
Will be back to this area another year with the intention of spending a few nights here.
Please click on the play button for some video clips of our ski tours in the Pyrenees