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David-Guenot: Track 3285 in area near France, Midi-Pyrénées ()
Pic Rouge de Bassiès
Length: 16.3km, Creator time taken: 8h49m, Ascent: 1342m,
Descent: 1330m

Places: Start at Lon 1.38494, Lat 42.7825, end at Start
Logged as completed by 1
This was the first of the two big hikes I did in the Pyrenees in summer 2016. Hiking in the summer often means a sunny day out, but then the heat can be a problem. Fortunately, it was not too hot that day, still enough to annoy me on the lower slopes. The weather remained brilliant all day long though, and so did the views !! I had long been looking forward to hiking in this area, and chose a summit which would be both challenging physically and relatively easy in terms of navigation.
The days are long enough in August, but with more than two hours driving to get there -and a supplementary half-an-hour stuck in traffic due to a busy music festival in the small town of St-Girons- it was already almost noon when I left the car-littered roadside at la Coumebière (1399m), a classic local starting point with a lot of parking available. From there, I headed SE along the GR10 for a few hundred meters before turning right next to the remains of some ancient shepherd's settlement and into the forestry. The ascent is rather gentle up to the small Etang de Labant, passing by some remains of silver mining activity (les Argentières) en route, around the 1600m contour. From the small lake -which is a rather busy picnic spot given its small size- the well-defined path climbs SSW into another little bit of forestry before veering SE as it reaches the end of a small ridge. It then follows the ridge for a while before sticking to the W slope, with great views opening progressively over a deep valley, with some +2000m summits on each side and the Pic des Trois Comtes (2626m) standing proudly at the back of the coum, the Pique Rouge de Bassiès (2676m) being hidden by the Pic de Caumale (2523m).
The higher summits already visible after a mere 40 minutes' walking !!

The path is still well-defined, but gets quite narrow as it makes its way along the steep slopes, and I slipped and fell rather stupidly at one point, probably more concentrated on the fantastic views to the right/SW than on the walking itself. This had me stopping for a few minutes to wipe some wounds on the knee, and surprisingly kind of killed my will to go on for quite a while, as I got back on the trail heading to the Col de las Fouzès (1944m). Although I then realised I had hardly done half of the total amount of climbing, reaching the main ridge at the col was a big moment, as the views were now opening to the other side of the ridge, over the beautiful Etangs de Bassiès and much further away.

Zoom on the beautiful Etangs de Bassiès from the Col de las Fouzès (1944m), with the Pique d'Endron (2472m) in the background.

From the col, I veered S up the Pic des Planes (2063m) where I stopped for a well-deserved snack, enjoying the already stunning views around. The path continues over the grassy ridge up to the Cot de Morech (2145m), a minor promontory which marks the beginning of the steep N ridge of the Pique de Bassiès. From there, it follows the edge of the W cliffs before sticking along the slopes to the left of some impressive rocky outcrops. At this point, the ground becomes slightly harder-going, despite the ascent being still very gradual. The going gets much tougher and the path disappears among some boulders, as one approaches the steep upper E sides of the Pic de Caumale (2523m), one of the most prominent of the minor tops which stand along the N ridge of the Pique Rouge de Bassiès (2676m).
The N ridge of the Pique Rouge de Bassiès as seen from just below the main top. The Pic de Caumale (2523m) is the main minor top of the ridge (left). The Col de las Fouzès can be seen to the centre right (second grassy V-shaped col along the ridge).

The final 200m climbing are the steepest, over rock, rock and more rock, but the reward is exceptional: a 360° panorama over the Pyrénées Ariégeoises, the most amazing side being the views to the S over the highest peak of the E Pyrenees, the Pique d'Estats (3143m) !!
The last pull up the Pique Rouge de Bassiès (2676m).
The Pique d'Estats (3143m) as seen from the top of the Pique Rouge de Bassiès (2676m). No need to say I have put this big one and a few of its +3000m neighbours on my bucket list !!

I stayed for about half-an-hour at the top, testing my brand new (and first) DSLR on the breathtaking vista and on an alpine accentor which kept hopping around only a few meters away from me.
The descent was pretty long, with the first half being about as hard-going as on the way up, the second half over the well-defined path being much more enjoyable. Despite the loads of cars I had seen at the start, I only met a few people after the Etang de Labant, and most of the walk, I felt I had the mountains all to myself. Another amazing day out in the beautiful Pyrenees !!

Uploaded on: Mon, 8 Aug 2016 (15:58:37)
Trackback: http://mountainviews.ie/track/3285/  
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