Walk in the Hautes-Pyrénées

 
Prestige issue 160, November 2006
 

Favorite place for athletes, climbers and high level hiking

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

Report and photos Simon Nadim

The Pyrenees that have so much captivated the romantics in the XIXth century greet you with their eternal hospitality. To discover them, follow us on an exhilarating hike on this high mountain separating France from Spain and be enchanted by the Pyrenees National Park, world of magical landscapes, botanical open book where flora and fauna are strictly kept.

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

Simon Nadim in front of the Gaube lake

 

Lake Gaube

An enchanting, just divine scene

This small lake in the Pyrenees dominated by the massive Vignemale, located at an altitude of 1.725m and fed by the glaciers of the Vignemale gives birth to the torrent of Cauterets. Accessible by walking through pines (1h30 walk from the Pont d’Espagne) or lift (270m ascent), the lake, which bed is entirely from granite, located on the mouth of the main river and loaded with glacial alluvium with its two kilometers of shoreline, offers a landscape of breathtaking beauty that renews at the pace of changing lights.

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

Gavarnie

A real jewel in the heart of the Pyrenees

With its steep surfaces, of glacial origin and rocky ridge, the Gavarnie circus is a real feast for the eyes like all the Pyrenean landscape. Classified World Heritage of Unesco, in 1997, it houses the Grand Cascade (422m), the highest in Europe and is an important step in the path of hikers. This natural site of Hautes-Pyrénées is located south of Gavarnie, a small mountain village (1,400m above sea level) on the border with Spain, in the upper valley of the torrent of Pau. The torrent of Gavarnie has its source in the heart of the Pyrenees National Park. This Eden where the fantastic stepped waterfalls cavort, invites to contemplation and meditation!

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

The National Park of The Pyrenees, a mosaic of landscapes

Created in 1967, the Pyrenees National Park comprises six main valleys: Aure, Luz-Gavarnie, Cauterets, Azun Ossau and Aspe. This area that is home to many threatened species by the proliferation of roads, hunting and the presence of man is an exceptional space without barriers and fences where animals live in absolute freedom. With its steep green landscapes, its lakes, its mountain streams and vast pastures, this huge park is the ultimate refuge of the herds. It includes 75 species (out of 107) of the French mammalian fauna: ermine, badger, bear, muskrat, wild boar, fox, chamois and especially the missing marmot since the end of the glacial period and successfully reintroduced in all valleys, not to mention birds such as the vulture. The flora is also preserved: mountain pines, beech, fir, over 400 species of flowers in spring, color this region such an “impressionist” painting.

20BPCD The marmot © Prestige / Simon Nadim 20CPCD The laughing cow © Prestige / Simon Nadim

Roland’s Breach

This famous breach of 2.807m, well carved in the rock, is impressive. Legend attributes this landscape to the sword of Count Roland, nephew of Charlemagne. In detail, Roland and his people fled, pursued by hordes of barbarians, they take refuge at the foot of the cliff! Trapped, Roland takes out Durendal, legendary weapon which steel “does not break or breach” of its sheath and in a single blow, he breaks the rock wall. So Roland and his people were able to escape to Spain!

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

The Legend of Roland says that by his sword, the famous knight in one blow broke the rock wall.

 
 
21BPCD Shelters in the Pyrenees are part of the landscape. These small constructions in the mountains greet “Pyrénéistes” looking to spend the night or take shelter in case of bad weather. Our photo shows the Refuge Espuguettes dominated by Roland breach. © Prestige / Simon Nadim 24APCD On the road to Glacier Vignemale. A fantastic high mountain route particularly varied: trails, snowfields, glaciers, ridges, caves and crevices. © Prestige / Simon Nadim
 
 

Caution please!

Attention in the mountains the weather can change very quickly. Thunderstorms are violent, even the modest elevation may surprise those who are not accustomed to  effort. You should know that it takes a good hour to climb 300m. And given the abundance of cliffs and dangerous slopes, hikers should consider in advance the itinerary, consult a map, check with competent persons, well prepare a bag to be in good shape …