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David-Guenot: Track 3116 in area near France, Midi-Pyrénées ()
Length: 14.2km, Creator time taken: 6h19m, Ascent: 1116m,
Descent: 1133m

Places: Start at Lon 0.420229, Lat 42.8484, end at Start
Logged as completed by 1
This area lies to the N of the Col de Peyresourde, a famous col on the Tour de France. It is accessible either from the E, parking at the Port de Balès (another famous col on the Tour de France), the NW (Bareilles) or various spots to the SW, and offers great walking, mostly on well-defined trails. The marked trails make for easy walking for the whole family, while some unmarked, less-defined trails that run along the main ridges main require the use of hands, particularly the last pull up the main summit, Montious (2173m).
I actually did this walk clockwise last year, starting from the same spot, about 1km to the N of Cazaux-Dessus (N of Loudenvielle), but I got caught by a thunderstorm and some hail as I was reaching the fourth (out of six) top. This meant I still had two summits to bag, actually two big round hills standing over 2000m. This time, I was leaving for the week-end, with the intention of having a tough hike on the second day, so this sounded not too long nor too difficult to start with. I finally turned my two-summit trip in a really enjoyable, anti-clockwise six-summit trip, which I would advise to complete clockwise for some simple reason I will explain further.
From the starting point, the Route Forestière de Balencous leads you eastbound along the valley, with some forestry to the right (S) and the grassy slopes of the main Montious ridge to the left (N), where cattle was grazing. There are a few tracks that run up in the forestry to the right and the main track continues E, but I chose to turn right at ca. 1550m, up a grassy gully that divides the forestry. The ascent gets steeper as you climb, but doing it in September meant there was a lot of opportunities for short breaks: hundreds of Colchicus autumnalis and many sorts of mushrooms littered and coloured the area, and I probably could have spent the whole afternoon wandering along the forest's edge and taking photos !! The ground gets steeper once you are at ca. 1700m, and the going gets a bit harder as the vegetation is mostly short but rather dense heather, with a few short rhododendrons here and there. I suddenly felt as if I were in Ireland, walking off-track up some heathery slope. I quickly reached a shoulder at ca. 1850m and then followed a faint track E to a small hump called the Cap de Peyrehicade (1915m), where I stopped for a snack, enjoying the extensive views, with the higher summits to the S and the Montious ridge to the N.

The Montious ridge from the S, with (r. to l.) the Pic du Lion (2102m), the Sommet du Tech (2138m), the -less prominent- Sommet de Jambet (2121m) and Montious (2173m).

On my way for the final pull up to the col between the first two summits, I was stunned to find a beautiful standing stone, and the round shapes of the Sommet de Pouyaué (2062m) and the Sommet de L'Aigle (2078m) also had a taste of Ireland !!
A beautiful standing stone on the way up to the Sommet de Pouyaué (2062m, r.). A taste of Ireland in the Pyrénées !!

As I started making my way N to the next summits, the Sommet de Pouy-Louby (2091m) and the Pic du Lion (2102m), the clouds came down just enough to block the views, which was not too disappointing, as I had been up there before.
Extensive views to the S and the higher summits from the top of the Sommet de Pouyaué (2062m).

Joining every summit means a mere 70 to 100m climb each time, but the Pic du Lion and the two other summits, the Sommet du Tech (2138m) and Montious (2173m) offer some steeper and uneven ground, therefore much more interesting and a bit more challenging in terms of walking. The short, steep ascent of the Sommet du Tech, with a portion on a narrow ridge, is particularly enjoyable.
The Sommet du Tech (2138m) as seen from the summit area of the Pic du Lion (2102m). A steep descent on an eroded path leads to the Col du Lion (ca. 2035m). The way up from there is the zigzag in the centre right.

No views from up there that day, but I can tell you that on a clear day, the NE panorama over the Lac de Bareilles, with the Mont-Né (2147m) in the background is really worth the effort !! The last part of the hike includes some scrambling up Montious, which has a first high point marked at 2171m on the map, near a derelict metal structure that probably once served as a trig pillar, and a second summit which looks slightly higher (I reckon 2173m), that holds a substantial cairn.
The last pull up Montious (2173m) requires the use of hands. The views from the top are extensive and even the Lac de Loudenvielle is visible.

The descent looks quite straightforward from there, but I suddenly remembered that the upper SW slopes of Montious are strewn with huge boulders -just like Beenkeragh (!!)- and it took me ages and a lot of energy to cross this area. I remember it was a bit tricky, too, on the way up last time, but I found it more tiring this time (I even slipped once or twice while hopping from boulder to boulder, cannot imagine what it would be like under wet conditions), therefore I would advise to do this walk clockwise, ending with a gradual descent from the Sommet de Pouyaué or, if choosing the anti-clockwise solution, get back down the final scrambling portion and head downhill from the col, where the terrain seems to be less difficult. The descent gets more gentle as you go down, a bit ankle-twisting in some parts due to the cattle trampling here and there.
I spotted quite a few deers and a stag in the area, and I can remember last time I was there I saw a couple of lammergeiers (Gypaetus barbatus) who were nesting in the NE cliffs of Montious. The Montious ridge is a bit less accessible than the Pic du Lion and the Mont-Né and is therefore much less visited, allowing the wildlife to enjoy more tranquility and making it a highly recommendable route.

Uploaded on: Fri, 2 Oct 2015 (19:53:36)
Trackback: http://mountainviews.ie/track/3116/  
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Note: ALL information such as Ascent, Length and Creator time taken etc should be regarded as approximate. The creator's comments are opinions and may not be accurate or still correct.
Your time to complete will depend on your speed plus break time and your mode of transport. For walkers: Naismith's rule, a rough and often inaccurate estimate, suggests a time of 4h 42m + time stopped for breaks
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British summit data courtesy:
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"ASTER+": Hillshade and Contours
Courtesy of Tiles GIScience Research Group @ Heidelberg University More detail here