dimanche 30 mai 2021

Tuc de l'Etang depuis Mourtis

The red billed Leiothrix are still here but harder to spot - the french call them "rossignol japonais" - japanese nightingales, unfortunately they are neither nightingales nor found in Japan!

A visitor to the meadow

A short walk with Susie, Sheri and Sandrine above La Mourtis ski station to a cluster of 6 tops with great views to the Luchonais Pyrénées and the Maladeta/Aneto massif. A short walk with just 500m of ascent.

Arête Salenques, Margalide, Tempêtes, Aneto - a big day out to traverse with climbing to IV

Pico Maldito behind Pico Maladeta with clouds blowing in

The maladeta massif



lundi 24 mai 2021

Drainage works

Unable to find anyone with availability to dig the drain behind our house, I decided to hire a digger and do it myself - I m quite handy with a digger these days. It is a tricky operation because of the depth, the overhanging eaves and because you have to dig at right angles to the digger. All started well digging down through the rock and clay backfill but at about 90cm (3 feet) depth I found an old concrete drainage gulley running the length of the back of the house. It was too thick to break through with the digger. The water has been coming into the house deeper than this on the inside of the bathroom so...Was all the clay above the old gulley stopping it from working? Or is there a subterranean water course deeper down? There was no way to dig deeper without a bigger digger so I decided to install a perforated land drain at the level of the gulley surround it with clean gravel and a geotextile and make a proper exit pipe for the water forward of the house and hope for the best. I might not know if it has worked or not until we get very heavy rain again! Meantime I've added plenty of RIW to the inside of the bathroom wall, hoping that may also help.

Platon sheet, perforated drain and geotextile in place ready for gravel


mercredi 19 mai 2021

Col de Portech to Cap de Bouirex

Another middle mountain walk with Sheri and Susie and a part of the skyline from Quélébu that I haven't completed before. Nice weather and surprising views on a long and slowly rising ridge heading to Cap de Bouirex. I made a sprint for the summit so that we could get back in time for an appointment Sheri had at 5pm. A part of the ridge path near the col de Portech has been chewed up by forestry vehicles but we returned through the woods following our noses to avoid it on the way back.

Looking west, Pic des Cingles, Mail de Bulard, Pic Maubermé, Pic de l'Homme and Pic de Crabère hidden from our skyline by the ridge of peaks heading North from Mont Valier

Tuc d'Eychelle and surrounding peaks, we descended the left ridge last week

Cap de Bouirex (left) and the last part of the route of ascent

Looking back along the last part of the ridge from just below the summit


vendredi 14 mai 2021


Black woodpeckers although large are very shy birds, so it was good to get a chance to creep up on one and get these photos. It was excavating a tree to get at some ants which were doing their best to attack him - you can see in the photos he is covered with them.

 At Quélébu the weather has been very changeable, hot sunshine, cold wind, torrential rain, snow to 1300m all within 24 hours sometimes! 

On Tuesday I caught sight of the big, brown, blue eyed, husky that has terrorised our sheep twice before and killed some of our neighbour's goat, trotting up the road towards our sheep. I quickly put my coat on and followed but he was already chasing our sheep, who completely panicked, broke through the fence and fled into the woods. I screamed and chased the dog away, but it took most the day to find and round up the sheep - all in torrential rain! In the UK a farmer can defend his livestock, not so in France. I m entitled to compensation from the owner if the dog kills or injures a sheep, but that doesn't extend to a day of my time wasted looking for the sheep or the sheep being stressed by the dog. Christian our neighbour when his goat was killed by this dog called the gendarme's but I think he didn't succeed in getting compensation because the owner claimed the dog wasn't his...stray dogs here are put down if not claimed in 4 days - maybe that's our best option if the dog continues return.

With the cold snaps one or several bears have descended from the mountains. Attacks on livestock (sheep, cows and horses) in Sentein and a neighbour told me in Sentenac d'Oust and Riverenert also.
Several videos of bears above the Maison de Valier and I think the Etang Rond or Etang Long taken in the last couple of days by walkers have also been posted on La Depêche. In the first video the bear is a long way off but in the second a little too close for comfort!

lundi 10 mai 2021

Ruby's website

Ruby is just putting her finishing touches to her new website www.rubytomasina.com
Ruby is an illustrator and as well as taking commissions for illustrating all manner of things from books, CD covers, labels, games, etc the site will have ready made cards, t-shirts, posters and other goodies featuring her original artwork that you can purchase for yourself or as gifts.

dimanche 9 mai 2021

Col de Crouzette, Tuc de Quer Ner, Tuc d'Eychelle, Pené Rouge, Cap Ner depuis Col de la Core

Our friends Becks and Kevin are moving back to the UK in a few days time so a farewell walk was in order.  A hot day today with the south wind blowing and for some reason I just couldn't find any energy. From Col de la Core we climbed up to the Etang d'Eychelle for a snack stop before pressing on to Col de Crouzette on continuous snow after the cabane. It was blowing a hooley at the col where we had lunch.


Lunch spot

Numerous choices from here but opted to return to Col de la Core by the western side of the watershed. After a careful descent of Tuc de Quer Ner, Becks and Kev where keen to continue all the way to the Col de la Core via the ridge. 

Leaving the Col de la Crouzette

View from below Tuc de Quer Ner looking East

Still some sizeable cornices on the West side of the watershed

I've done the ridge from Tuc d'Eychelle to Col de la Core three times before and at this time of year with steep persistent névés on North side, one most follow the narrow ridge over Pené Rouge, which ends with a short down climb in a very exposed position. Much easier going up than coming down! Susie and Sheri don't enjoy these tricky sections but with care everyone managed it safely. A couple of steep névés had to be crossed before we could finally relax and follow the rest of ridge down.

 A surprisingly tiring day despite only 10.5km and 1100m of height gain.