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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pic d'Anie

On our last free day in France we set out to walk from Arrette la Pierre St-Martin, a skifield on the Spanish border (1700m) to the Pic D’Anie (2504m) and down the other side to the Refuge de l’Aberouat (1400m) near Lescun. This was only possible because we were with family who were willing to drop us off and meet us at the other end.

After a brief hunt around the ski lifts for the right track we set off with glorious alpine meadows to the east...

...and to our west the barren Arre de Soum Couy. We were walking very close to the Spanish border and most of the people we met on our way up the Pic were Spanish.

A couple of hours walking brought us to this cleft through the ridge separating the Arre de Soum Couy from the Arres d’Anie. (‘Arre’ seems to refer to a flat expanse of rock, but not a boulder field).

Another hour took us to the foot of the peak itself. The Arres d’Anie was fascinating walking – the rocks were frost cracked to such an extent that they often looked like the splintered end of a piece of wood with us hopping from splinter to splinter. Too much concentration needed to allow any photography before this.

From here is was a steep but straightforward climb until we reached the bifurcation between the track down the other side and the final scramble to the summit. K decided to sit it out in a small cave to save herself for the descent and was rewarded by a close inspection from a Griffon Vulture, probably hoping to repeat last year’s incident when a fallen climber was picked completely clean before her remains could be recovered. Here is a picture of one flying free at a bird show we attended the day before. They are a spectacular bird, with a wingspan of up to 2.8m.

Meanwhile, on the summit, I was joined by an Alpine Accentor and one of the ubiquitous Alpine Chough’s, both no doubt accustomed to people dropping crumbs.

This is the view from the summit south to the other peaks of the Cirque de Lescun. There were thunderstorms over in the next valley and it did not seem advisable to stay too long.

We followed other people’s tracks along the side of the mountain,to the Col d’Anie, glad of our trekking poles when crossing snowfields on the steep slope.

From near the Col we could see the beautiful crest known as Les Orgues de Camplong. Organ pipes are an over-used comparison when naming rock formations. We also had a good view of a marmot foraging on these juicy green meadows.

The track to Refuge de l’Aberouat runs along the base of these cliffs, passing the usual picturesque shepherd’s summer residences. The back wall of that hut is the boulder itself.

As we approached the Refuge and reentered the forest we could see in the distance the Pic du Midi D'Ossau that we had not quite managed a few days before.

We finally reached the Refuge and our lift home after eight hours walking – the 1100m descent from the Pic to the Refuge was quite wearing on the joints, even with poles, but overall this was a truly memorable day in the mountains.

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