Pic de Tentes from Gavarnie - Our first Pyrenean Duathlon

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Tuesday 21 October 2014

Pic de Tentes from Gavarnie - Our first Pyrenean Duathlon

After studying our map of the Haute Pyrenees on Monday evening, searching for some simple hiking loops from Gavarnie, we were a little disappointed to find an unexpected chill in the air on Tuesday morning. Not that this should have been all that unexpected since it was the 21st October, however, after almost unbroken sunshine since arriving in the mountains these new clouds cast a slightly more forbidding atmosphere onto the surrounding peaks and emphasised the craggy heights.

Electing to spend a more relaxing morning in the motorhome enjoying the spectacular views over the autumnal peaks rather than dashing straight off into the hills, we had a fantastic time absorbing the peace and tranquillity. We even had the opportunity to enjoy one more visit from Rob and Sue who were passing by on their way to visit the nearby Cirque du Tromouse. As early afternoon arrived we felt the urge to feel the breeze on our face once again and brave the decidedly chilly mountain air. The relatively late time of day ruled out anything other than a short hike, so again studying the map we decided instead to take to our bikes once more. As fortune would have it the aire we were staying at was situated right on a winding road that climbed from 1400m up to a car park at 2208m, passing through the local ski runs and arriving just a stones throw from the French-Spanish border.

Layering up against the cold we began the climb right from our back door. With no markers we didn't know the gradient or distance covered, but it felt very similar to our Luz Ardiden climb which had hovered around 8%. The effort soon began to warm us up, although the occasional icy gust prevented us from removing too many layers as we wound our way past the ski stations dotted on the exposed slopes in the Vallee des Especieres.

The final push for the summit involved a particularly long drag into the wind and we arrived gratefully, cresting onto the Col de Tentes that housed the car park just beneath the 2322m Pic de Tentes. This was our first really high viewpoint since returning to the mountains and it felt amazing to be back up high amongst the exposed rock faces, especially the vertical rock wall beneath the ridge directly in front of us which ran east to join the awesome Cirque du Gavarnie that we hadvisited the previous day.

Locking up our bikes we decided to take a short walk to the Pic du Tentes. We might also have decided to take the short stroll to the French-Spanish border, however, the prospect of this conical summit and the chance of 360 degree views was too tempting – we think we made the right decision. Arriving at the peak we were treated to an extensive view that took in dozens of 3000m peaks that we could orientate ourselves from and start to get a real sense of the landscape around us. We were starting to feel at home already. Not wanting to leave the summit, but unable to linger too long in the chilly air in just our thin lycra we stayed for just under an hour before the short stroll to our bikes and rapid cruise to the motorhome.

The exhilaration of a much need return to high places stayed with us for the rest of the day and the prospect of clear skies in the morning excited us even more.

Cycle Information: 
Motorhome Base: Garvanie
Distance: 30km from Luz St Saveur (approx 9-10 km from Garvanie)
Ascent: 1497m from Luz St Saveur (approx 830m from Garvanie)
Average Gradient: 5% from Luz St Saveur

Other Related Posts:
Road Cycling in the Hautes-Pyrénées - The Most Famous & Difficult Climbs of the Tour de France

Hiking in the Hautes-Pyrénées & the Pyrénées National Park - Gavarnie & Cauterets

7 Spectacular Cycling Climbs From Vallée d'Aure, Hautes-Pyrénées - Arreau & Saint-Lary-Soulan

See All Our Cycling Climbs in the Pyrenees

See all Our Hikes in the Pyrenees

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