jeudi 25 octobre 2007

Pic de la Lesse, Pic des Trois Comtes, Pic de Puntussan

Etang Garbet

An early start in dense cloud from about 6km upstream from Aulus les Bains this morning. By the time I reached the Etang Garbet I had climbed above the cloud but it chased me up the mountain. At the Etang Bleu everything was frozen and I left the path behind as I struck up across the mountainside to reach Pic de la Lesse.

The view of the route ahead from Pic de la Lesse - On the right Pic de Puntussan, in the middle Pic des Trois Comtes (partly hidden behind an unnamed pic on the ridge climbed on the way).

Some pleasant scrambling (in the sun briefly) lead to Pic des Trois Comtes and by 2.00 I was on the top of Pic de Puntussan. There was plenty of snow on the ground and a fair bit of verglas on the rocks. On the Pic the cloud finally engulfed me.

Atmosheric conditions produced a Brocken Spectre.

The long descent in difficult pathless terrain, zero visibility and light snow then heavy rain proved very difficult and several times I had to reascend steep slopes and ravins to keep on track. By 5.30 I was still high on the mountain and not certain of my position and benightment seemed a distinct possibilty. Eventually after 4 hours of exhausting descent through rocks, bilberry and tussuck grass I reached a path (the first since early morning) and as twilight fell I reached the top of the Cascade d'Ars. (NOTE : I would not recommend this route either in ascent or descent and certainly not in poor visibilty).

I just managed to descend to the good piste before dark and a long trudge back to Aulus and then the 6km back to the car in pitch darkness saw me safely down. A long and trying 11 hour day with over 2200m of ascent and about 23km in all.

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