Friday, 25 June 2010

Etang Bleu - A classic walk in the Ariege Pyrenees

Having set the day aside to finish breaking in a new pair of Asolo Alpiniste boots before the forthcoming trip to climb Vignemale... I decided to head up to Etang Bleu, a small lake at the height of about 1800 metres, under the east face of Pic de Peyroutet. In the local guidebook this is described as a hike of medium+ difficulty that should take about four-and-a-half hours.

From the La Hasta gite it takes 15 minutes to drive up the Courbiere valley to the car park at the start of the hike. On the way you pass a sign marked 'Cascade'... If you have time it is  worthwhile stopping here for a little while and taking a short walk to look at the waterfall...

From the car park, take the forest road up through the woods until you get to the 'Embanels' meadow (see the above photo). This is a delightful place for picnicking, fishing or doing a spot of wild camping.

Continue over the meadow and cross the river via the wooden footbridge... Shortly after this there begins a zig-zag path that climbs steeply up through beech woods until suddenly you round a corner and are faced with the Cirque d'Embans, sitting below the magnificent west face of the Pic des Trois Seigneurs. This is a great spot to take a breather as it offers a glorious view of the horseshoe of mountains including Pic des Trois Seigneurs (2189m), Pic de la Journelade (1945m) and Cap de la Dosse (1948m).

Leaving the trees behind, continue up from the cirque...On the day that I did this section there torrents of melt-water cascading several hundred metres down the face of the cirque... And also many surviving large patches of snowfield... Truly spectacular.

I finally arrived at Etang Bleu after about two hours walk... The lake is actually more emerald-green than 'bleu', and is a glorious sun trap... Time for a sandwich!

Anyone wanting to extend the walk can continue up to the Col de la Couillate, from where it is possible to head west along the ridge towards the Pic des Trois Seigneurs, or east towards the Pics of Pioulou (2166m) and Bassibie (2114m). From the ridge there are wonderful views of the chain of the Pyrenees.

The walk back down takes about one hour and thirty minutes... I made it back to the car with boots that are now ready for the trip to Vignemale!

Sunday, 20 June 2010


We would like to introduce a temporary member of the La Hasta family... Pecker!

Pecker is visiting for a couple of months from Kelly and Ian's place up in the Saurat valley. He is the 'Prince' of the chicken world... Somewhat small, but perfectly formed! Not a bad singer too!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Climbing in the Ariege - The Granite of Auzat

Beladonna on La Sabine at Auzat - F5c+
Spent the morning at Auzat in the Vicdessos valley... Although the rest of France seems to have been flooded out, we managed to get in a good mornings climbing, with only a few spots of rain to dampen that lovely granite.

When the weather is better then Auzat is one of the best places for climbing in our part of the Ariege... The reason being that during the summer months it is nice and shady, when south facing crags such as Calames are  just to hot. Another good thing about Auzat is that it is family friendly... Lots of flat areas, an easy walk-in and climbs starting from just French grade 2+ (there are also plenty of climbs around F4 to 5)... Perfect for top-roping the nippers.

And no family trip to Auzat would be complete without Jon and Deb's gas stove... churning out endless cups of tea...

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


Cherry pie! My favourite!

This is the results of 15 minutes spent picking the cherries from our two small trees... It's little things like this that make the move to France worthwhile...

Get the custard on!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Visitors in the Garden

We found four of these delightful little'uns taking a siesta under some bushes this afternoon... The first ones that we have seen in the Ariege.

This is great as hedgehogs are believed to be a wonderful form of natural pest control... Hopefully they will take a liking to our slugs!

Once they had awoken, they started to climb up the undergrowth on the bank at the front of the house. However, one of them decided to explore and wandered off into next doors garden... Not a great idea as their hunting dogs apparently like 'playing' with hedgehogs. Marie saved it and returned it back to us before it could come to any harm.

Anyone remember hedgehog flavoured crisps?