jeudi 20 août 2015

Neouvielle and Ordesa trip

Ordesa and Anisclo

After our trip to the Neouvielle (see below) we headed through the tunnel de Biesla and into Spain. After a night in cheap hotel we followed the spectacular one way canyon road to reach the lower reaches of the Anisclo Canyon at San Urbez. Without rucksacks, only our cameras and a little water, we zoomed up the valley. the forecast had been for poor weather but it never materialised. We took hundred of photos and little before La Ripareta we turned around and headed down.

We'd booked a hotel in Torla for Tuesday night and in the morning caught an early bus into the Ordesa canyons. We'd decided to follow the Faja de Pelay which traverses the canyons at mid-height (I'd done this before about 15 years ago). To reach the start there's a steep 600m climb. Susie and I were feeling fit and I set a good pace. We reached the top without a halt and without being overtaken in a little over 40mins...Susie loved it!

From here the path follows a fantastic route with ever changing views above and below. Because we'd started early, we had it virtually to ourselves (until we reached the hoards who marched up the path on the canyon bottom at Rincon de Soaso). About half way along we spotted a small herd of isard on cliffs above us and saw vultures and swifts in the void below us.

Telephoto view of the Breche de Roland

Looking down the canyon and trying to be Ansell Adams!

Looking across to the other side of the canyon

Rinson de Soaso, the head of the canyon before the climb to the Goriz refuge

We had lunch at waterfall called the Cola de Caballo. Here we had to decide whether to climb to the top of the canyons and follow the very long route back along the rim, or descend along the valley floor. We chose the latter and it was packed! Since I last followed path maybe 20 years ago, it seems to have been turned into track most of the way and even concreted in the upper reaches. It's been done to prevent erosion and there are signs at regular intervals asking visitors to stay on the path...but for me it takes away much of the wilderness feeling and I was very glad we followed the Faja de Pelay in the morning.

Cascada del estrecho

We were back at our car by 4.00 and decided to head for home. After our speedy ascent Susie is keen to climb Mont valier again but this time in a single day.


We headed for the Neouvielle on Saturday afternoon in poor weather knowing that Sunday and Monday would be sunny. I'd reserved a room at the hotel/refuge beside Lac Oredon, but somehow I got confused and thought it was beside the higher Lac d'Aubert. So we arrived at Lac Oredon where you must park and caught the last bus up to Lac d'Aubert where we realised our mistake. We had planned to camp the next night, so fortunately we had our tent, sleeping bags and enough food for an extra night under canvas.

We found a place away from the path near the Lac d'Aumar and at 7.00pm (the earliest time allowed for wild camping in the Pyrenees) and just before a rain storm, we pitched out little tent, cooked our food and tucked into a bottle of red (a glass of which I managed to spill in the tent!). An hour or so later and there was a visit from a Ranger. He politely told us that within the confines of the Neouvielle Naturel Park, wild camping was only allowed in designated areas, so we would have to pack up our tent and descend to below Lac d'Aubert - the nearest bivouac spot. A bit of a pain but 45 minutes later we were re-established.

It was a surprisingly cold night with a heavy frost but the morning was crystal clear and by 9.00 we were on our way to the Hourquette d'Aubert (2498m), our first pass of the day.

The Neouvielle is truly magical and the views of lakes and mountains were superb. Our packs were heavy but we soon made the col. More lakes lay ahead as we descended towards the Tourmalet with Pic du Midi de Bigorre ahead of us.

It was glorious sunny day and after lunch we decided to change our route slightly and head over the col de Tracens (2463m).

A rock sea lay between us and the Lac Nere, but after this the way became easier with a steep final haul to the col.

A second well deserved lunch on the col...

..and a new more open landscape lay ahead of us with the Lacs de Madamete in the distance.

After a spot of sunbathing at the Lake we headed on and eventually chose to wild camp beside the Lac d'Agalops (we were now outside the Naturel Park).

It was a warmer night with a few light showers. Earlier morning cloud quickly cleared as we climbed towards the Hourquette Nere (2465m).

On the other side of the col the clouds were still swirling and slowly clearing and we spent a good half and hour trying to capture the rapidly changing view with out cameras...magical!

We descended as far as the the Laquets de Port Bielh, where he had to make decision on the route, either drop into the next valley and visit Lacs de Bastan, or descend more directly to the Lac de l'Oule. The weather was beginning to close in so we chose the latter descending through the pine forest of the "Sapinere de Bastan".

After lunch at the lake we had the steep 450m climb to the Col d'Estoudou. We were soon in the clouds and it seemed like we would never reach the col. At last we arrived just as the heavy rain began and equally steep descent to the car at the Lac d'Oredon was rather slippery. 

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