Vignemale and Ossoue Glacier

We exhausted some old uni friends by suggesting a walk up the Vignemale (3298m – highest mountain in the French Pyrenees).  They stayed overnight at the Baysellance Refuge, made it to the top and had a good look at the rapidly disappearing Ossoue glacier.  For someone used to studying glaciers in the Antarctic and Greenland the Ossoue glacier is definitely small, and, according to Duanne, in a terrible state.  Conclusion – a glacier on its way out, as they all are in the Pyrenees, but a lovely walk up and a great view from the top!


Heading up the Ossoue Valley

Keeping cool on the snow

Melt water from up high

Its not Antarctica – you have to climb up the hill to get to the glacier

Count Henry Russell, who leased the mountain for 99 years from the commune of Cauterets, built a number of caves in the mountain to house his friends

An overnight stay in the Baysellance Refuge provided some lovely sunset views

Before setting off in the morning to climb the ridge to the top…

Top of the Ossoue glacier

Full view of the Ossoue glacier
They made it up

Looking down into the Gaube Valley

Now she has to get down

Liz- on the way down


Josh2015-06-03 03:18:37

Hi there, a great article you've done and some awesome pictures! Me and two friends want to get to the top this August but have heard very conflicted opinions on it and we're told we'd need crampons and ice axes - the whole shabang - but then I've seen photos and videos of kids walking up the thing.. is it unsafe to go up without equipment or was my advice from someone a little too careful? Thanks, josh

templiersluz2015-09-14 05:29:15

Hi Josh, Apologies for late reply. But for others wondering, yes - you do need ice-axe and crampons, the whole shebang, to go over the glacier. I would recommend a guide if you have not done this type of thing before. The friend who took the photos in this picture has spent months in Antarctica studying glaciers, so he was pretty comfortable. I hope you made it up one way or another, or found a good alternative peak where no crampons required. Sian

James2018-09-10 16:24:19

Hi there, I’m currently planning to go to Vignemale this month. Should I be expecting some snows when I get up there? Kind Regards,

virtualsian20162018-09-10 16:58:00

Hello... If you are going to the "Grand Vignemale", so Pique Longue (3298m) then you will need to cross the glacier. This requires crampons, ice-axe etc. And some experience. I would advise hiring a guide (about 350€ for the day). Another option, if you are by yourself, would be the Petit Vignemale (3032m) which is a peak with a fabulous view and which is easily accessible from the Baysellance Refuge. There will be no snow in September. I would recommend staying the night in the Oulettes Refuge or the Baysellance Refuge before climbing the peak.

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