Thursday, 20 June 2013

Cirque de Gavarnie

Cirque de Gavarnie and another blocked route!
A beautiful day ahead and we opted for the road up the valley to the Cirque de Gavarnie and hopefully on to Col de Boucharo, which we'd not climbed before.  The 10 mile or so continual climb up to Gavarnie gave us a chance to warm up stiff legs.  The Cirque is a geologists dream, a six kilometre semi-circular wall of 3000m peaks, formed by glacial erosion, and home to France's tallest waterfall, the 423m Grande Cascade de Gavarnie.  With gradients of 8 and 9% and up to 11%, the climb up the Vallee des Especieres was more tiring than we expected, in the hottest day so far, about 25deg.  With 5km to go from the ski station, the route was well and truly "barree", with a wall of snow across the road.  Sheep were the only creatures getting through!  So a lovely cycle all the way back down to Luz, into a warm wind.  32miles and 4000' of ascent.
Now all the cycling books tell you that the main climbs should all be open from May.  The locals have all told us that they have, like UK, experienced a long, cold winter and not much of a rise in temperature in Spring.  So it shouldn't have surprised us that the Cols are closed.  It'll be interesting to see whether the Alpine summits are blocked.  The Pyrenean ascents aren't as popular and maybe there isn't quite the same need to clear the summits.

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