Mountain Tales: Pyrenees Love Tuesday October 29, 2013

I’ve walked in the Pyrenees six times. The first trip was disappointing. I stayed at a hostel in a village called Lescun located in a stunning area, but with poor weather. I thought a hostel would be too busy in summer and autumn might be beautiful. It can be but the weather is also unreliable and almost every day was misty, sunless, and wet.

I had one good day when I set off for Pic d’Anie under welcome blue skies but only got two thirds of the way. In the amphitheatre below the final climb I couldn’t see the path, didn’t know the direction I needed to walk, and was battling waist high snow.

The next year I tasted the Pyrenees at their best: the Lescun to Gavarnie High Level Route is in my opinion the finest section to walk. Three years ago I walked up to Posets from Angel Orus as a side trip while I stayed at Camping Banos in the Esera valley above Benasque.

I would count the climb to Posets as possibly the finest day route I’ve undertaken because of the marvellous views. The beginning is fairly average, then you climb up a snow field gully where I had sandals while everyone else had boots, some with crampons too.

Finally you reach a long ridge leading to the summit. At the base of it a lady had gashed her leg quite badly. She started crying, distraught with the mountain experience her partner had probably persuaded her to try. I was immediately and instinctively protective, concerned, gentlemanly. You have bad times in the mountains – we all do – but crying about is another matter. It’s a man thing. Her male companion appeared, attuned to this as I was, and made a gesture and facial expression indicating he would deal with it.

Such memories. Such poignant, resonant, lovely Pyrenees memories: not that incident as such but how moments and scenery are impressed on your imagination to form a set of internal pictures.

And I have external pictures too…photographs…hundreds of them…and this year added video to my collection.

This is Posets – oh, my Posets – taken towards the end of my annual trip this year when I walked up the summits near Pico Des Gourgs Blancs.

Posets is in Spain and the French side of the Pyrenees was covered in cloud. I’ve seen this several times. It’s a beautiful sight:

Posets is the second highest mountain in the Pyrenees. I’ve not climbed Aneto, highest of all (only by about 40 metres) but my impression from photographs is it’s not as beautiful as Posets. High, yes, but the views not as picturesque.

You see Posets at 10-14 in the video. You see Aneto on the skyline in the first 2-3 seconds. And at 18 in the distance you’re looking towards the Ordesa area with the famous canyon. I was there a few days previously.

Three years ago on Posets:

Three years ago the other side of Gourgs Blancs where I made the video this year. This was a rough and forbidding area designated E for extreme in Ton Joostens guide book: