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David-Guenot: Track 3121 in area near France, Midi-Pyrénées ()
Length: 9.6km, Creator time taken: 7h15m, Ascent: 1061m,
Descent: 1173m

Places: Start at Lon 0.191736, Lat 42.7484, end at Start
Logged as completed by 1
I had intended to climb the mighty Pic de Lustou (3023m), but my relative lack of condition and the longer than expected hike of the previous day (see Track 3116) made the 1700m climbing sound a bit too difficult, so I opted for a shorter walk, with less climbing, too. I had read a review on a French site about the Pic de Garlitz (2798m) and it seemed to be feasable for me.
I parked near the French side of the Tunnel de Bielsa (ca. 1830m) and headed up the well-defined trail to the left of the buildings. This trail runs S up along a stream, passing by some nice waterfalls. After the main one, the ground steepens a bit, and reaching a small cairn at ca. 2140m, I veered left (E) on a faint sheeptrack, crossed two streams and headed NE through a grassy plateau, aiming at some scree slopes which seemed to be the only way to contour the W cliffs of the Pic de Pène Abeillère (2611m).
The route marks a double-"S" to contour the deep gully in the foreground, then avoid the steep cliffs of the Pic de Pène Abeillère (2611m,r.) to end up as a ridge walk up the Pic de Garlitz S Top (2786m, centre) and the main top (not visible before you reach the S top).

After a steep 100m climb in loose scree, the ground becomes firmer, and I headed SW keeping on the right side of the vale, then sticking to the cliffs' edge to avoid the remainings of a recent snowfall which was covering most of the N slopes from ca. 2450m. The Pic de Pène Abeillère is a fantastic promontory, well worth a visit as it only adds some 40-50m easy climbing and offers spectacular views.
From the Pic de Pène Abeillère (2611m), the Pic de Garlitz S Top (2786m) offers great walking, spectacular but never exposed. Reaching the main top (2798m), which lies behind this one, is another story...

The Pic de Garlitz stands to the NNE, and after 3h30 I reached what I found out was actually... the S Top (2786m) !!
The Pic de Pène Abeillère (2611m) looks like a wee snowy hump from here, despite its sheer SW and SE cliffs, which edges are slightly visible in the foreground. In the right background, La Robinera (3003m), Monte Perdido (3355m, far background) and the awesome E cliffs of the Cirque de Troumouse, with La Munia (3133m), the twin Pics de Sère Mourène (3090m) and Troumouse (3085m), and the Pic Heid (3022m).

The main top (2798m) had not been visible until then, and after enjoying the extensive views from the S top, I pondered about my ability to get there, as the fine, rather easy-walking ridge had now turned into a very narrow and rocky arete, with no obvious trail and surely offering some exposed scrambling on the last part. I had some time and some energy left though, so I considered giving it a try and reversing if I felt I could not do it.
What a summit !! The Pic de Garlitz (2798m), seen from its S top (2786m). The loose rock and the sheer drops on both sides mean every step and every grip must be carefully considered.

The first part consisted in gradually descending across some bare, diagonal bars of rock, to avoid some easier but snow-covered ground, which was too slippery to be safe. This took me quite a few minutes, but I found out on the way back I should have stayed on the edge of the ridge at that point. The final part of the descent to the col was like a pause before the final ascent, which indeed required some exposed scrambling and its adrenaline rush !! Every grip had to be carefully considered, as the rock was very loose and any error could have been fatal. I was relieved to reach the top and its 2m cairn and enjoy a stunning 360° panorama, with so many other ridges and summits -including many +3000m- visible in all directions !!
Stunning views from the top. Here to the NW, l. to r.: the Soum des Salettes (2976m), the Vignemale (3298m, far background) and its glacier, the Pic Badet (3160m) and Pic Long (3192m), centre left, which both look shorter because of the distance, the massive Pic de Campbieil (3174m), the Pic d'Estaragne (3006m), the Pic de Néouvielle (3091m, far background) and the Pic Méchant (2930m).

Scrambling back down the main top was not a piece of cake either, and it took me almost 1h30 out and back from the S top, including a 20 minutes break on top. The rest of the descent was rather gentle, though I found it a bit hard to get orientated at some point, despite the weather being absolutely perfect. Not a walk to do under poor conditions anyway. Also, the area is really remote and I met no soul until I reached the main trail at 2140m, where a couple was having a break. From there, it was a quick, 30 minutes descent back to the car.
I forgot to mention I spotted a few animals, two vultures, a kestrel, two marmots and a chamois (called "isard" in the Pyrénées). One of the best hikes I have done in the Pyrénées so far.

Uploaded on: Fri, 2 Oct 2015 (20:09:22)
Trackback: http://mountainviews.ie/track/3121/  
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