mercredi 3 juin 2015

Pic de Crabere

With the weather forecast for a sunny cloudless day, I got up early and packed for a day in the mountains - an ascent of Pic de Crabere. It took about an hour to drive to the parking at Anglade close to Frechendech and at 8.30 I set off. There was plenty of morning low cloud but the sun was already burning it off and I needed only shorts and T-shirt.

It took 2 hours 30 minutes to climb upto Etang d'Arraing. The path is never too steep and climbs steadily, mostly high above the river, through broadleaved forest. A little before the lake you finally emerge from the trees and the huge face of Pic de l'Har looms overhead to the left.

The lake is held back by a dam which also generates some electricity. I was amazed that the water level was very low, I thought at this time of year it would be full with snow melt. Just before the refuge I stumbled across three people (engineers I assumed) who were sitting on the ground each studying laptops which had been plugged into sockets mounted on a post in the middle of the mountain. Evidently some of the electricity is made available! 

After a spot to eat I pressed on towards the summit about another hour and half away. My lack of fitness began to show after the col d'Aueran and the endless zig-zags leading the last 400m to the summit were exhausting. The weather briefly changed as clouds welled up from the valleys (yesterday evening's rainstorm evaporating no doubt) and I was sometimes engulfed in cold cloud. Near the top I disturbed some Ptarmigans.

Amazingly the path to the summit avoided the snow, though the summit had a cap about 30m x 30m. The peak is famous for its great views of Pico Aneto and the Luchonais Pyrenees, but I was in and out of the clouds. I descended a little on the Spanish side to eat my lunch out of the wind.

The descent of the zig-zags was much quicker than the ascent and I meet a party of three ascending, the only other people I saw all day. As soon as I was down and back at the Col d'Aueran, the sun returned and temperatures climbed all afternoon. I took a longer way back crossing the Pas du Bouc (2170m) and descending to the Cabane d'Uls. I had meant to then climb to the Col d'Auarde but I mistook an earlier cabane for the Cabane d'Uls and climbed to another col by the Etang d'Uls. 

At the Col I saw an Eagle which I have now identified as a Short-toed (or Snake) Eagle, so called as it eats mostly snakes.

Having realised my error I decided to press on, descending steeply to the Trous des Maumats then attempting to contour northwards to pick up my planned route at the Cabane des Pugues. I eventually gave this up and descended more directly towards the Chapel d'Isard through the Reserve Biologique d'Isard on difficult pathless terrain. Descending towards a snow field I saw a Red deer doe happily sitting on the snow to keep cool. Eventually she saw me and fled off into the woods.

The flowers on the walk and particularly through the Reserve, were stunning today with too many species to list - but everywhere was carpeted in blooms and the selection seemed to change at every turn.

I headed for the Chapel d'Isard, a curious chapel high in the mountains far from any habitation, but alas is was locked because of storm damage.

From here I picked up my path of ascent and returned to the car - hot and with sore feet. It had been 17 miles, 7000ft of ascent and nearly 9 hours of walking! I got home at 6.30 where the thermometer in the sun was still reading 42 degrees!

Tomorrow is my last day and I have the last of the clearing out to do from the garage at Pont and some work to do here also.

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