lundi 4 juillet 2016

Port de Barlonguere

A day in the mountains for first time in 8 months. Surprisingly, I just noticed this is the same walk I did just over 2 years ago (17th July 2014) see here. Much less snow this year and I'm 30 mins slower, but that's not surprising given my inactivity in the mountains over the last few years!

It was blisteringly hot this morning and my dreams of storming up from the valley were quickly downgraded to a steady plod. Just like two years ago my plan had been to climb Pic les Trois Comtes and again I was too knackered. It's a steep haul to the Port de Barlonguere from Pla de Lau and in full sun most of the way. Crossing the river required taking socks and shoes off but this time it was only knee deep.

As I approached the Cabane de Barlonguere there were about 25 isards and I was able to get some great photos and videos. there were even a couple of young.

On leaving the cabane I met two young Frenchmen who had had an accident on the névés above the Etang Long. They were ill-equipped and inexperienced and without sticks or an ice-axe had found it very difficult climbing up to the Port de Barlonguere (perhaps 30 degrees). One of them had slipped and managed to drop his rucksack, which had slipped down the snow and was apparently irretreviable(?) He looked pretty shook up and was evidently too frightened to re-descend to get his bag (though when I met them back at Pla de Lau at the end of the day he said it had fallen under the snow and got wedged?). They said the névé had taken them completely by surprise and was extremely dangerous - they feared a fall would see them in the Etang Long! They asked me if they could call out the mountain rescue to get the bag!!

The reality was just the normal snow slope that persists here in June and July, though I seem to remember being surprised last time by people who were ill equipped for snow, trying to climb it and inviting an accident!

I searched everywhere but was unable to find the rucksack ( I had thought to collect it and carry it down to the Maison de Valier for collection).

 Looking down the névés from the Port de Barlonguere towards the Etang Long

The water in the Etang Long and the lower Etang Rond was deep, cold and beautifully blue. Between 2 and 3 the a few clouds rolled in and cooled the temperatures but not for long.

 Etang Long

 Etang Rond

By the time I reached the Cascade de Nerech it was sweltering again. I was surprised that other than the two frenchman the only other people I saw all day were climbing up to Estagnous Refuge very late in the day (or making very slow progress!).

By the time I got to St Girons it was crazy hot and humid but shortly after a big thunderdtorm rolled in and lasted most the evening.

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