Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 15

 
Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
 
Day 15 - Monday 9 August 2004 - Stage 13
 
Postcard Summary
Hotel with hot bath to Refuge de Pombie
Fresh breeze for good walking, with lakes and marmots – 7.2 hours, 14 km, 1300m ascent
A decent hotel breakfast set us up for a long climb, but cloud means it is a cool one.  Crossed back into France and saw marmots, including babies, at a lake beneath Pic du Midi d’Ossau.  At our camp at Refuge de Pombie at over 2000 metres we saw isards, small deer, again with young.
 
 
Diary Entry (by Martin)
Woke to sullen skies and rain in the air. Stuffed ourselves with breakfast at 8 am, after the rush of the coach party, who have to be away early on their full day. Leave Candanchu at 8.50. Now the coach party has gone, the place is dead.
 
But by the time we reach Col de Somport the information kiosk there is open. We ignore it and head up to Astun, another small ski resort with a couple of chairlifts working. Just past here, at 9.40, we stop to eat two delicious peaches sold to us by the nice El Bozo man. (Picture above.)
 
Then we move steadily up to another beautiful Lake, Ibon del Escalar. By now I have recovered from my breakfast nosebleed and am enjoying the cool day - at 17°C excellent for shorts and t-shirt. The ascent to this lake was at 9 to10 metres per minute whereas earlier in the trip we were only managing 7 to 8 metres per minute. (Suunto Altimax watch provided this data.)
 
Sue changes into boots - Kate's discarded but trusty Reeboks are wearing out! There would be excellent networking at this lake.
 
So, on up to Col des Moines, and border stone 309 signals another return to France. We get a day walker to take photos of us with Pic du Midi d'Ossau in the background. Unfortunately it's cloudy and the peak has its hat on.
 
 
It did eventually clear, at 11.00. I ponder where all the organised HRP trips are, whereupon we meet a group of eleven French with packs who look as if they are exactly that.
 
 
Pass Lac Castérau, 11.50, and the Pic clears briefly. We have a long (12.30 to 1.30) lunch break with excellent cheese, tomatoes and baguette from (guess who?) just above Cabane Cap de Pount, with good views down the valley to the north east.
 
 
It was briefly warm and sunny. Just as well, as I spent 30 minutes on the phone, which had reception for the first time since before Arlet. So 3 days texts were sent to Kate, who claims to have the website up to 5/8 done, and a message to Jacqui in reply to hers. We are so still that family of marmots comes out to play noisily, without noticing us.  

And so to a 650 metre ascent to Col de Peyreget ~ 2300 metres, which we fairly stormed up, passing a Frenchman with a white hat - he really did look English, perhaps he was pretending to be French. Stopping at Lac de Peyreget, we saw lots of marmots including some babies - I'd never seen them before. And again today, eagles soared gracefully in the cloudy skies. The route up was through meadows of spotted gentians, the first time we had seen them. We reached the col at 3.30 and descended to Pombie Hut, 1,000 feet below, by 4 pm. 

 
By Lac de Peyreget
Didn't notice the sign "Aire de bivouac - 150 m" and camped illegally by the lake. We are just about hidden from the hut by a mound and hope we don't get moved on. (Been here 2 hours now.) It's been spitting with rain, but occasional sun means it's 27 degrees in here. Very cosy. But Sue keeps farting and is hot in her fleece.
 
Best couscous meal yet, (a tent meal, I think) which has lots of choritzo sausage, and mushrooms and pepper sauce with it, following a nice soup. Then we bottled out of getting beers at the busy hut and adopted for a chat with our French friend, also illegally camped, and a view of an isard family.
 
Stats and route (Viewranger):
15 km, 1400 metres ascent, 7.2 hours
 

 
 

6 comments:

Sir Hugh said...


I had camped halfway round the Pic du Midi circuit on the lower slopes and stopped off at the Pombie Hut for Orangina on the way to Gabbas . I wonder why you didn't stay at the hut rather than camp? I was also on Day 15. If it had been me the reason would have been expense.

Phreerunner said...

We had stayed in a hotel the previous night, and we had lots of food, and I knew there was good camping near Pombie. Also, we sleep better in the tent than in a crowded hut, the latter being a safe refuge in the event of bad weather, and of course a handy place to go at 'beer o'clock', though we didn't feel a need for that in 2004.

I see from an old diary that three of us (me, Dave, and Martin W) camped here, similarly 'illegally' on 3 August 1995, and I don't think we visited the crowded hut on that occasion either.

Pombie Hut's close proximity to an iconic mountain actually means that I would pay more to camp than to stay in the hut, where early starters and a hot dormitory would disrupt attempts to get a good night's sleep!

Sir Hugh said...

Very sound reasoning which I totally understand. Crowded huts are not much fun. Refuge Nice on our alternative finish through the Mercantour springs to mind. My friend Gimmer had joined me for the last few days. The dorm in that hut was a long narrow room about 12 ft. wide with a raised continuous platform running the length leaving a three foot wide trough at the foot end of the platform which was a continuous communal bunk which was more or less fully occupied on our visit. In the trough everybody stowed their rucksacks so it was difficult to say the least to move up and down, especially if you needed to get up in the night. We left very early in the morning.

Phreerunner said...

Been there, done that, Conrad - many times. There may in fact be one of those occasions coming up in this story soon...

afootinthehills said...

That’s a rather large rucksack Sue is shouldering in photo 4, Martin.

Phreerunner said...

That's her Karrimor Jaguar 65, the only backpacking rucksack I've ever known Sue to use. It looked very similar on this year's TGO Challenge, possibly made just a bit slimmer following the replacement of her Karrimat with a Thermarest. Our kit list shows her carrying 14.3 kilos including snacks and one day's food.