Traverse 3: Ossau–Cauterets

Spectacular High Mountain Scenery…

An extraordinarily varied trek including three peaks

Four our third week of the Great Pyrenean Traverse we enter into high mountain territory, and shift from the GR10 to the Pyrenean High Route. This six day trek covers one of the most spectacular sections of the trail from the Pic du Midi d’Ossau past the Balaitous and in front of the Vignemale to the lovely spa town of Cauterets.

– Back and forth across the French/Spanish border
– Six days trekking on the Pyrenean High Route
– Optional ascent of classic peaks La Grande Fache and Le Petit Vignemale, along with Pic Palas

Date: July-Sept groups 4P+. Price: 1010€ pp. which includes 7 nights accommodation in hostels & refuges, all breakfasts, dinners, and 6 picnics, 6 days guided trekking. There is no possibility this week to enter or exit other than on the set start and finish dates. Contact and Book: Sian.


Day 1: Meet the group in Laruns (there is a bus from Pau train station) where you spend the first night in a hostel there. Group briefing over a dinner that evening.

Ossau-PicDay 2: Transfer to the Lac de Bious Artigue (1422m) from where we walk up past the emblematic Pic du Midi d’Ossau. Local people refer affectionately to this mountain as Jean-Pierre and it is the remains of a volcanic caldera (250-400mya) that was then pushed upwards as the Pyrenees formed (~40mya). We trek around the mountain via lakes and the Suzon Pass (2127m) to the Pombie Refuge (2032m). +900m, 7kms, ~3h walking.

Day 3: We follow the high route east down through the woods before climbing back up to open mountainside and the Arremoulit Refuge a Arremoulitshort distance from the Balaitous (3144m). This small refuge is set in a magical cirque beside the lake of the same name and we are warmly welcomed with great food including home-made bread! -642m, +860m, ~6h walking.

Day 4: From Arremoulit (2257m), we cross over to Spain via the Palas Pass (2517m, we may well have the time to take in the peak of the same name at 2974m) before heading past a series of lakes to the Embalsa Respumoso (lake) and the refuge beside it (2150m) for the night. +260/717m, -367/-824m, ~6h walking.

Day 5: Leaving Respumoso we climb over steep mountainsides to the Col de la Fache (2664m). It was through this pass that many allied pilots escaped Nazi forces during the Second World War, and it was also the pass through which Republican forces fled from Franco in the Spanish Civil War just 5-10 years earlier. From the pass fit walkers with some scrambling experience can reach the summit of the Grand Fache (3005m) before walking down to the Marcadau forests and the Wallon Refuge (1865m). +514/+855m, -799m/-1140m, ~7-8h walking.

Day 6: We cross the border again today as we trek up the Arratille valley (perhaps stopping S_Wallon Marcadau Refuge webfor a dip in one of the lakes) and back into Spain at the Col d’Arratille (2528m). Our passage is brief this time however as a short traverse and climb brings us back to France at the Col des Mulets (2591m). As we descend from here towards the Gaube valley we have a first glimpse of the spectacular north face of the Vignemale. Our refuge, les Oulettes (2150m) is at the foot of this great summit. Memorable views from our dinner table! +726m, -441m, ~6h walking.

Day 7: today is a long day’s walk and allows us to finish the week in style with the spectacular Petit Vignemale peak (3032m). We’ll rise early to have the climb done before midday and begin our long descent back to civilisation. As we will backtrack on our return there is the option of doing only part of the climb, or sitting it out and enjoying a lazy morning admiring the view in the refuge. We climb up to the Horquette d’Ossue and then up steep and slightly exposed slopes to the peak from where we have panoramic views and can clearly see the great Ossoue glacier. Looking westward on a clear day, we can make out our long and impressive itinerary via passes, summits and lakes. We head back down to Oulettes, and descend from there to Pont d’Espagne, where we catch a bus down to Cauterets for a well earned shower S_People_VIgnemale_Foothills Summits headerand bed for the night.

Day 8: Bus out of Cauterets to Lourdes train station or airport, homeward-bound and happy!

Please Note: This itinerary may be altered if conditions and weather are judged to put the safety of the group at risk, or if they indicate another route would be preferable for the group’s comfort. Our guides reserve the right to make changes to the itinerary without notice. These changes will be explained to the group if they occur.

Fitness Level: This trek  involves relatively long days with an average altitude gain of 1000m/day. To consider this trek, you should be comfortable walking for 8 hours in the mountains at your own pace with, of course, short rests here and there and a decent lunch break. The following day, you should be able to get up and do the same again! We are walking in high mountain terrain and although, for the major part, we are on paths, you still should feel happy with rock or scree underfoot.


Reserve your place

To book you can use the on-line booking system below – select the  start date and the end date and then proceed. The system will ask for a deposit which you pay using PayPal or via direct deposit using the IBAN supplied. Or, if you prefer, you can email us directly (, ring directly on +33 5 62 92 81 52 or Skype at sian.grigg. Deposit payment is possible via direct wire transfer. Ask us for our IBAN details. Or book below and use PayPal.