dimanche 13 août 2017

Pic Seron South Ridge

Susie and I had planned to climb one of the Couserans bigger peaks (Maubermé or Mon Rouch) but Susie ripped some skin on her foot yesterday so we opted for something more modest. I've climbeD peak Seron seven times before but never by the South ridge, a route that looks very direct and interesting from Gerac.

We continued on the main track after the path for the ladders and eventually broke left to climb the lower ridge. As the ridge narrows a cairned path became evident.
Gerac below

A crazy cut-out in the felsenmeer - isard?

The South ridge is composed of huge granite slabs

The path alternates through patches of tumbles slabs which have to climbed through but the granite is covered in huge phenocrysts, which have weathered to form handy "chicken-head" holds for climbing them. 

We spotted some alpine accentors on the way up

We reached the summit (2489m) after about two and a quarter hours and after lunch decided to descend via the Etang d'Aube - Susie fancied a dip (but alas the water was too cold even for her).

The familiar profile of Mont Valier and its satellites from the summit

The Etang d'Aube, dominated by the Dent de Médé

There were quite a few people camping and bathing at the Etang de Médé. After crossing the Col de Cerda we quickly back at the car - about 5 hours plus lunch for the circuit. A quick beer and chips at the ski chalet/restaurant on the Col d'Escots was a lovely treat.

Back home Susie's flowers are in full bloom and I've been making sandwich pickle with the glut of squashes.

Colourful pickle mix ready for cooking

mercredi 9 août 2017

Devils fingers

Clanthrus archeri or "devils fingers"

Now the hornets nest is safely removed I've been able to finish scything the top terrace of the field opposite Phillipe and Celine's which was very overgrown. Like most the meadows at the moment there are quite a few devils fingers emerging - alas not edible!

Plenty of mushrooms that are though. Last night we filled the basket with chanterelles, hedgehog of the woods and horn of plenty...and then went back for seconds finding a delicious little juicy beefsteak fungus. We decided to preserve our haul and after briefly cooking them in white wine, vinegar and herbs, which shrunk them considerably and has hopefully enhanced their flavour, we packed them in a jar with olive oil.

The recent damp overcast weather seems to be retarding the ripening of our tomatoes, and has killed our melon, though we got three delicious fruit from it. Raspberries are coming on stream soon and there are a lot of aubergines starting to form.

jeudi 3 août 2017


A hastily arranged morning walk with Sheri and Michiel to Pic de Soubirou. Lovely views as always and some wildlife - a snake eagle, kestrels, vultures and a slow worm. Despite some wind, it was very hot and humid which made for a sweaty ascent!

 Merens below Soubirou

mardi 1 août 2017

Ossese, bonrepos, marterat

Susie is keen to improve her mountain fitness before our trek in September (as am I), so today we made another excursion. The rarely used trail to the cabane to bonrepos has reappeared on the latest edition of the IGN 1:25000 map, a trail I followed in descent in 2009 but have failed to find in the other direction several times. 

We started from Ossese, climbing steadily until emerging into the hanging valley above the Cascade de Lastien.

This time we found the faint paint markers towards the Cabane de Bonrepos but for the first 400m or so it was more luck than judgement that we found the correct way. There is no path anymore just occasional red paint marks often hidden below the vegetation which we managed to stumble upon.

Section of chains and cables aid the way through some steep rocky sections then its a long rising traverse across the mountainside.

At last we arrived at the Cabane de Bonrepos a tiny cabane for 3 people - one of my favourites in the Couserans.

We had a couple of options from here but decided to try and find the path to the Cabane de Marterat (another path that has appeared on the map). It looks unlikely that a path could get there through the steep terrain and there is no sign of it from Bonrepos. The climbs steadily once more towards the Col d'Aliot, but once above the steep couloir descending into the valley below it crosses the scree and skirts below the high cliffs again with markers but no trail.

Another climb upwards and some more cables and we arrived at the cabane.

All that remained now was the descent by the well trodden GR10 - interspersed with wild raspberries and bilberries! Spotted a ring ouzel on the descent.

7hrs for the trip with 5000ft of ascent.

Even the sheep like raspberries!

Traditional stone roofs at Ossese

Back home, the rams had started fighting (we haven't managed to sell Moechee yet) perhaps because the pasture was getting poor and this was accelerating the ewes were coming into season. We split him from the herd, but he soon escaped and rejoined them. So we put the sheep into the big field in front of the house - which involved some new fence building and making a new gateway through the hedge, hoping that the better pasture would retard the ewes. Today things are calmer so our fingers are crossed that we have bought some time to sell Moechee before tupping time comes.

jeudi 27 juillet 2017

Pic de la Calabasse

Mr Quincy

With the return of good weather and plenty of hay safely in the barn, I've cut the rest of the big field. We'll put the sheep in it in the autumn. Celine our neighbour who is a beekeeper, volunteered to eradicate the asiatic hornets (they kill her bees), which she did very effectively!

It's been too long since we were in the mountains, so today after a not very early start, we set off to Pic de la Calabasse. The ascent from the mines at Rouech to the Peak via the Col de l'herbe Soulette and the north ridge is quite steep and unrelenting and Susie found it a tough slog. We eventually made the summit after 2 1/2 hours but quickly descended to have lunch at the Roche des Gours because the summit had a lot of flies and people.

The ridge is a splendid view point for the peaks from the Neouvielle to Valier

We completed the ridge crossing Pic Paumaude, the twin tops of Tuc des Pans and finally the narrow ridge leading to Tuc de Loubech. From here we descended to the humorously named Col des Quims before descending to the barns at the Pres de Paris - a horrible cattle trail with plenty of juniper bashing. We then gained the descent trail, but there is a lot of forestry work going on at present the track which returns to the mines is a horrific mudbath gauged out by the forestry machines. 6 1/2 hours for the circuit including stops, 9 miles and 4350ft of ascent.

Aneto and the Maladetta

Looking back to Pic Paumaude and Pic de la Calabasse


Last peak of the day Tuc de Loubech

A sly old fox spotted on the descent