2020 Crossing the Pyrenees

1st day: St. Jean de Luz – Ezterentzubi

Start with Daniel Wälchli (VC-Allschwil) in St. Jean de Luz:

The first day with 80km and 1500hm is deliberately not too long. The “Col Saint Ignace” is only about 150m above sea level, the “Puerto Otxondo” and “Col d’Ispéguy” about 600m above sea level.

And also the cosiness is not neglected:

Crossing the Pyrenees, 1st day: St. Jean de Luz - Ezterentzubi
Crossing the Pyrenees, 1st day: St. Jean de Luz – Ezterentzubi

 

2nd day: Ezterentzubi – Oloron Sainte-Marie

Start in Esterenuby:

A demanding tour with 3 passes: Col de Arthaburu – Col de Bagargui and Col de Suscousse; approx. 110km and 3000hm. Col d’Arthaburu is one of those nasty hard-hitting passes in a barren mountain landscape that is plentiful in the French Basque Country. The pass height is not far from the border with Spain, right next to the name-giving Pic Arthaburu (1156 m). Basically, the road doesn’t connect two valleys via the pass, but rather you get on it from Estérenuby to the heart of the Basque Pyrenees in the Spanish-French border area. The surrounding mountains in this region rise only up to about 1700 m, yet the slopes are steep and crisscrossed by noisy narrow valleys – an inhospitable terrain for the pass era.

The Col de Bagargui (1327 m) is a very small pass about 30 km southwest of St. Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Basque part of France. The surrounding mountains in this region rise only up to about 1700 m, yet the slopes are steep and crisscrossed by noisy narrow valleys – an inhospitable terrain for the pass era.

Crossing the Pyrenees, 2nd day: Ezterentzubi - Oloron Sainte-Marie
Crossing the Pyrenees, Stage 2: Ezterentzubi – Oloron Sainte-Marie

The Col de Suscousse (1215 m) connects Larrau with Oloron-Sainte-Marie. Near the Col de Suscousse there is also the Col du Soudet and the Col de la Pierre Saint-Martin (direction Spain)

Oloron Sainte-Marie:

 

3rd day: Oloron Sainte-Marie – Luz Saint Sauveur

 
Crossing the Pyrenees, 3rd day: Oloron Sainte-Marie - Luz Saint Sauveur
Crossing the Pyrenees, 3rd day: Oloron Sainte-Marie – Luz Saint Sauveur

Start in Oloron Sainte-Marie: Again we rode 3 passes: Col de Marie-Blanque – Col d’Aubisque – Col de Soulor; also about 110km with around 2700hm The Col de Marie-Blanque is crossed by an asphalted forest path that connects the Vallée d’Aspe with the Vallée d’Ossau.

The Col d’Aubisque, together with the Tourmalet, the Aspin and the Peyresourde the holy quadrhelarchy of the French Pyrenees passes. Their anointed status has to do with their location, because they line up like pearls on a string in the central part of the Pyrenees. On the other hand, and this is certainly the more important factor, its almost annual involvement in the stage planning of the Tour de France contributes enormously to its reputation. Unfortunately, the weather was “despite summer” rather rainy and cool: My Garmin showed 7 degrees..!

Crossing the Pyrenees, 3rd day: Oloron Sainte-Marie - Luz Saint Sauveur
Crossing the Pyrenees, 3rd day: Oloron Sainte-Marie – Luz Saint Sauveur
Crossing the Pyrenees, 3rd day: Oloron Sainte-Marie - Luz Saint Sauveur
Crossing the Pyrenees, 3rd day: Oloron Sainte-Marie – Luz Saint Sauveur

The Col de Soulor connects directly from the west to the Col d’Aubisque. It is actually “only” a small crossing. Luckily, the rain stopped … but unfortunately there were also many clouds here:

 

4th day: Luz Saint Sauveur – Bagniére-de-Luchon

 Col du Tourmalet – Col d’Aspin – Col de Peyresourde, “the classic” of the Tour de France, a highlight was coming up: We started in Luz St Sauveur, the weather was foggy and cloudy, even quite cool, around 13 degrees:

Crossing the Pyrenees, 4th day: Luz Saint Sauveur - Bagniére-de-Luchon
Crossing the Pyrenees, 4th day: Luz Saint Sauveur – Bagniére-de-Luchon

Fortunately, the fog disappeared during the morning, the sky opened and we had mostly beautiful sunshine:

The Col du Tourmalet has a hard climb on a bike. The pass height is 2115 meters above sea level, it is almost the highest pass in the Pyrenees. Only the Andorran port d’Envalira (2407 m) is higher! We had an amazing view from the pass to the east:

Crossing the Pyrenees, 4th day: Luz Saint Sauveur - Bagniére-de-Luchon
Crossing the Pyrenees, 4th day: Luz Saint Sauveur – Bagniére-de-Luchon

Now we hade a huge descent to Argeles-Gazost. Unfortunately we came back into fog, he stayed hard until we were up at the following Col d’Aspin:

Crossing the Pyrenees, 4th day: Luz Saint Sauveur - Bagniére-de-Luchon
Crossing the Pyrenees, 4th day: Luz Saint Sauveur – Bagniére-de-Luchon

A cold descent leaded us down to the beautiful village of Arreau.

 

 

Round trip, Ax-les-Thermes

In Ax-les-Thermes we booked 2 nights. We decided for a small cycle round trip around Ax-les-Thermes: about 60km and 1600hm. 3 passes: Col du Chioula – Col des sept fréres – Col du Pradel. Immediately after breakfast we left. The temperatures were still pleasant in the morning. Col du Chioula:

Round trip, Ax-les-Thermes
Round trip, Ax-les-Thermes

Col des sept fréres:

At the “Col du Pradel” I had trouble, although the street was beautiful, somehow the legs and the head wanted to “rest”:

The view from the top of the pass was amazing and I was just happy again:

 

7th day: Ax-les Thermes – Mosset

 

Col de Pailhéres – Col des Moulis – Col de Jau; 110km and about 2900hm

Two days we stayed in the “Domaine de la Vallée d’Ax”:

Crossing the Pyrenees, 7th day: Ax-les Thermes - Mosset

…and enjoyed the beautiful area:
Ax-les-Thermes Tour

Start in Ax-les-Thermes um 8h:Climb to the Col de Pailhères:

Crossing the Pyrenees, 7th day: Ax-les Thermes - Mosset
Crossing the Pyrenees, 7th day: Ax-les Thermes – Mosset


At the top of the Col de Pailhères:

Crossing the Pyrenees, 7th day: Ax-les Thermes - Mosset
Crossing the Pyrenees, 7th day: Ax-les Thermes – Mosset
Crossing the Pyrenees, 7th day: Ax-les Thermes - Mosset
Crossing the Pyrenees, 7th day: Ax-les Thermes – Mosset
Crossing the Pyrenees, 7th day: Ax-les Thermes - Mosset
Crossing the Pyrenees, 7th day: Ax-les Thermes – Mosset

Decent:Col des Moulis:Narrow path and construction site on the descentAfter a leisurely lunch we went on the pass to Col de Jau, it was about 30 degrees:


A little question ?..?..?

A picturesque village in a beautiful light; Mosset

 

8th day: Mosset – Argelés sur Mer

 

We are sweaty and happy at the goal; Argelès sur Mer:

Thellast ride was 132km and 3 Pass crossing; Col de Palomère – Col Xatard – Col de la Brousse, …1900hm. After a very fun evening with Daniel, excellent food and enough wine – rather too much – we started “anyway” early in the morning. It was already warm, no question, we started “short-short” in Mosset:

The temperatures rose quickly and we were already sweating on the first pass, the Col de Palomère

We got the “Col Xatard” as a present, it was only a small crossing from the Col de Palomère

Crossing the Pyrenees, 8th day: Mosset - Argelés sur Mer
Crossing the Pyrenees, 8th day: Mosset – Argelés sur Mer

After lunch, we really sweat at “Col de la Brousse”! I think I have never seen Daniel sweat so much… The last 500m to the last pass:

Crossing the Pyrenees, 8th day: Mosset - Argelés sur Mer
Crossing the Pyrenees, 8th day: Mosset – Argelés sur Mer

We made it, the last pass – out of a total of 27 passes – Col de la Brousse:

Crossing the Pyrenees, 8th day: Mosset - Argelés sur Mer
Crossing the Pyrenees, 8th day: Mosset – Argelés sur Mer

Now it was just downhill in the heat to Argelès sur Mer:

………………………………

The crossing of the Pyrenees was a total of 917 km and 21’780 hm, which is an average of 2’375hm per 100km! I am very happy, thankful and happy that the whole trip went so smoothly and without incident. Many thanks to Daniel Wälchli for the tour together, I think we had a lot of fun together , …and finally thanks for waiting up “just always” at the top of the passes ?

–> Routes, travel recommendations and gallery
 

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