Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
Day 24 - Wednesday 18 August 2004 - Stage 19
Free camp with geese to Barroude
Cool, cloudy day high in mountains – 6.3 hours, 11 km, 1200m ascent
A cool day today, good for walking but not for photos, as quite cloudy. We managed to go a bit quicker after Julie ate some of her luggage, and we arrived at the Barroude mountain hut by 3pm. We are not supposed to set up camp until 7pm, so are malingering here in the meantime. It’s too cold to be outside.
Some long climbing today, but the zigs and zags are so long you almost forget it’s a zigzag path – some bare scree to climb and descend, then a walk beneath the Barroude wall, a huge chunk of rock. The hot chocolate here is great, and served in large bowls, better than our tepid brew at lunchtime today.
Diary Entry (by Sue)
Chilly early hours, despite only being at 1500 metres, so ignored 6.45 alarm until 7. Rain during the night, but none now, so we pack outside.
We leave the free campsite at 8.30, in cloudy, breezy conditions, and climb the zigzag path immediately next to the site. Héas shrinks as we climb. (Pictured above.)
The valley is attractive, with small waterfalls and few people. The sun comes and goes, but long trousers are needed due to the cold wind.
Pass the small 'Oratoire de Sainte-Famille', where a cow is drinking from the spring! The narrow path is very 'walker friendly' and winds up in very gentle zigzags for a long way - the ascent is 1100 metres.
Finally, we cross scree before arriving at the Hourquette de Héas at 2608 metres around 12 noon, where a new view opens up, and we see clear blue sky to the north east over
The descent from the col was down steep, bare scree, but it was short and sharp. Had lunch from 12.30 - tepid brew from last of gas in a cylinder, and bread with pâté/mackerel in mustard sauce.
Blue sheep are inquisitive until the shepherd moves them on. Another climb, to the Hourquette de Chermentas (2439 metres), and another new view. Then a pass crossing the scree slopes below big rock walls, contouring round to the Barroude wall, a huge wall dominating the valley. Lots of people have walked up to the Refuge Barroude, which soon comes into view.
Reach the refuge at 2.50 pm, too early to bivouac, so it's bowls of hot chocolate inside, and some postcards/ route planning/ diary writing. Outside the wind is strong and cool, and it's cloudy. We pitch the tents at about 5.30 pm, in the least windy spot we can find near the smaller lake.
There are strong gusts occasionally, so all the pegs are used. Dinner is asparagus soup with added chorizo sausage that turns it an apricot colour, then pasta with tuna, chorizo and a red wine sauce - successful. Nice hot chocolate to finish with, and it's after 8 pm. Still heavy skies but no rain. We bed down around 9 pm, with strong gusts still battering the tent.
Stats and route (Viewranger):
13 km, 1400 metres ascent, 6.3 hours