between the valleys of Aspe and Ossau is the Spanish inn

Do you have to master several languages ​​to cross a border? See you on stage 11 of the HRP, High Pyrenean Hike. We start from the Col du Somport in the Aspe Valley, on the French side, then head towards Spain at Astún. The route then climbs to the Col des Moines. We are back in France, in the Ossau Valley.

Astún is an alpine ski resort with asphalt, concrete and yellow snow cannons in a breathtaking landscape. In the summer there is no need to get tired to reach the Col des Moines. The chair lift streams waves of families, electric mountain bike enthusiasts and hikers on the edge of two lakes, which are connected by motorized trails.


Hikers ready to start in Astun. You can go up to the high-altitude lakes with a chairlift. Single ticket price: 7 euros.

Laurie Bosdecher / “South West”

“Walking in Spain is wild, but what rocks there are! »

Throughout the entire chain of…

Do you have to master several languages ​​to cross a border? See you on stage 11 of the HRP, High Pyrenean Hike. We start from the Col du Somport in the Aspe Valley, on the French side, then head towards Spain at Astún. The route then climbs to the Col des Moines. We are back in France, in the Ossau Valley.

Astún is an alpine ski resort with asphalt, concrete and yellow snow cannons in a breathtaking landscape. In the summer there is no need to get tired to reach the Col des Moines. The chair lift streams waves of families, electric mountain bike enthusiasts and hikers on the edge of two lakes, which are connected by motorized trails.

Hikers ready to start in Astun.  You can go up to the high-altitude lakes with a chair lift.  Single ticket price: 7 euros.


Hikers ready to start in Astun. You can go up to the high-altitude lakes with a chairlift. Single ticket price: 7 euros.

Laurie Bosdecher / “South West”

“Walking in Spain is wild, but what rocks there are! »

All along the chain of the Pyrenees, the tracks go very high up the Spanish slope, cut for the man and his activities. On the French side, on the slopes to the north, the paths become much lower paths. The few tracks in the height are reserved for shepherds and rescuers. Sophie and Didier, two residents of Toulouse we met the following evening at the Pombie refuge, confirmed this to us. “Walking in Spain is wild, but what rocks there are! »

The mountain in 4G

Here we are at the edge of Ibon (lake) del Escalar, no way to picnic or take a comfortable break. A drone flies overhead. Children howl on the other side of the lake. Parents reprimand them. For lonely reverie, forget the eyes in the reflection of the mountain on the water. We speak a Slavic language to our left. In the speaker of his smartphone, a shirtless young guy laughs with another guy on video.

Not really the idea we had of lakes at 2,000 m altitude in the Pyrenees. Better to move quickly towards the border. 200 meters higher is the Col des Moines. In the climb full of stones we exchange “ola” and “buenas dias”. Everyone greets each other on the mountain. The Spanish wanderer is talkative. Even out of breath, he talks, talks, talks. With such a flow, it is useless to hope to see marmots in the company.

Group of Spanish hikers at Col des Moines.  Your guide explains the Pyrenees mountain range from this unique vantage point.  You can see Vignemale or Balaïtous from the pass.


Group of Spanish hikers at Col des Moines. Your guide explains the Pyrenees mountain range from this unique vantage point. You can see Vignemale or Balaïtous from the pass.

Laurie Bosdecher / “South West”

Between the Col du Somport and the Col du Pourtalet, which are accessible to cars to create the connection between France and Spain, there are several pedestrian passes, such as the Col des Moines, at 2169 meters above sea level.


Between the Col du Somport and the Col du Pourtalet, which are accessible to cars to create the connection between France and Spain, there are several pedestrian passes, such as the Col des Moines, at 2169 meters above sea level.

Laurie Bosdecher / “South West”

Col des Moines, 2,168 meters. Behind, Spain with its sunny and dry pistes. In front of us the French Pyrenees, forests, green areas, flowers, and in the middle the Pic du Midi d’Ossau with its two famous teeth. The famous Jean-Pierre. “This nickname has more to do with the first names of children in the Ossau valley than with a mysterious legend of shepherds protecting the valley from invaders”, we confided to the caretaker of the Pombie refuge, Jean-Marc Ferri. Jean and Pierre Ravier, two famous Pyrenean twins, nevertheless opened paths there in the middle of the 20th century.e century.

From “Ola” to “Hello”

We descend towards the Ossau valley. Spanish hikers marvel at the panorama, the sky, the sun. In the descent, the greeting between hikers gradually changes from “ola” to “hey”. Regardless of the nationality of the backpack.

On the trails, everyone greets in French or Spanish.


On the trails, everyone greets in French or Spanish.

David Le Deodic/ “SOUTH WEST”

“Do you know where the lake is? Ah, here is an American looking for his way. This one crosses the Pyrenees alone. In total autonomy, like in the great parks of the United States. With food, floor mats and a tent attached to the bag.

The lake is just a little lower. It is almost the twin of Escalar, the Spanish side. Radically different atmosphere at the foot of Pic Casterau. Not a sound despite the dozen hikers pausing on the edge of the expanse. Some brave people bathe there. A young girl dives head first into the icy lagoon colored water.

swarm of bells

Cows go up to summer pastures along the Gave de Bious in the Ossau valley.


Cows go up to summer pastures along the Gave de Bious in the Ossau valley.

Laurie Bosdecher / “South West”

A music of bells, like a swarm, comes from the valley. In early July, herds of cows and sheep return to their cottages on the hillsides. Shepherds mingle with hikers.

“A Spanish hiker is always well equipped. A French hiker buys a bag and shoes that he keeps all his life »

On the GR 108 taken by those who cross the Pyrenees at the summits and the brave who take the road to Santiago de Compostela, we therefore speak all languages. A good way to realize that there are also differences in appearance.

“A Spanish hiker is always well equipped. A French hiker buys a bag and shoes that he keeps all his life. The Frenchman considers the mountain, the Spaniard has, let’s say, a more consumerist approach. “Words from a Spanish high mountain guide whose identity will be hidden.

At Lake Peyreget or in Lake Pombie, a small toilet or a refreshing swim.


At Lake Peyreget or in Lake Pombie, a small toilet or a refreshing swim.

David Le Déodic/ “Southwest”

Marmot babies

It’s time to take the direction of the Pombie refuge. In full evasion. On the trail, a hiker puts a finger on her mouth and invites her to be discreet. A few meters away, baby marmots emerged from their burrows and argued before the eyes of stunned hikers.

Baby marmot, at the foot of the Pic du Midi d'Ossau.


Baby marmot, at the foot of the Pic du Midi d’Ossau.

Laurie Bosdecher / “South West”

Arrival at Lake Peyreget, 2,000 meters and dust. All hikers put their backpacks. Those on long journeys take off their bottoms and tops, freshen up, sometimes completely naked in the water. Others wash their clothes. Germans, Spaniards, French and Canadians whom we met there still have a two-hour walk before they reach their bivouac or dormitory at the Pombie refuge. On the menu: a hellish climb in a shed under the sun. At the top of the pass, at 2,300 meters, still in good spirits. All these strangers taking pictures together, Pic du Midi d’Ossau just above. The shelter is in sight.

Arrival at the Col de Peyreget, at an altitude of 2,300 m, below the Pic du Midi d'Ossau.


Arrival at the Col de Peyreget, at an altitude of 2,300 m, below the Pic du Midi d’Ossau.

Laurie Bosdecher / “South West”

The Pombie refuge at the foot of the Pic de Midi d'Ossau.


The Pombie refuge at the foot of the Pic de Midi d’Ossau.

David Le Deodic/ “SOUTH WEST”

Jean-Marc Ferri, keeper of the Pombie Refuge, and Christian Ravier, high mountain guide, carrying on the family tradition of the Pyrenean twin brothers Jean and Pierre Ravier.


Jean-Marc Ferri, keeper of the Pombie Refuge, and Christian Ravier, high mountain guide, carrying on the family tradition of the Pyrenean twin brothers Jean and Pierre Ravier.

David Le Deodic/ “SOUTH WEST”

The mountain creates connections. That same evening, walkers, girls, boys, old and young, shared their meals around large tables. Next to them are climbers who have come to sleep at the foot of the peak. During the evening we talked a little in French, a little in Spanish and a little in English about the weather, reminiscing about hikes, showing routes on maps before going to a big sleep in a dormitory at eight.

Atmosphere at the Pombie refuge.  After dinner we discuss, we talk about travel routes, heights and hiking memories.


Atmosphere at the Pombie refuge. After dinner we discuss, we talk about travel routes, heights and hiking memories.

David Le Deodic/ “SOUTH WEST”

The next day, in the rising sun, the climbers set off with helmets and ropes to attack the Pic du Midi d’Ossau. Hikers pick up their poles, put on their rucksacks and continue their journey, east or west, for one or many days of walking.

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