3rd June Cambre d'Aze

After my previous 2 disappointing efforts at climbing my 3rd Pyrenean Mountain, it was good to succeed this time. It wasn’t easy though the snowfall of the previous few days combined with no view of the mountain to get an idea of how much was lying on the ground, made it real guess work.
I managed to locate a map in the town but after trying several shops the time was already 12:30. However I wasn’t in much of a rush as the mornings weather was awful, wet and windy again! I decided that as I had found a map I would definitely have a go today (the forecast for the next 5 days is for worse weather). So I got my gear together. It was a combination of next to skin base layers and a very protective shell jacket, hat, gloves and I also took Kahtoola spikes – a mesh of small steel spikes that fit around any footwear – as a precaution.   I chose this gear so I could be fast and light but still have good protection from what the potential cold high above.
I drove the 7 miles to St Pierre- Dels-Forcats then set off up the ski pistes.  It was fairly warm but cloudy. After a few minor errors I was soon out of the woodland and onto a broad ridge. Pockets of snow appeared, so I put the Kahtoola spikes on. These help a lot when the snow is on grass, your feet don’t slip back so much. The ridge narrowed to a fairly steep sided arête that rose up and down like a set of giant sharks teeth.  Most of this is missed on the right hand side (in my direction) but this meant traversing a steep snow covered slope, it was a “no slip area” as I warn myself. If you started sliding on that without an ice axe to self-arrest, you would be in big trouble.
It was good to finish the traverse and then make my way onto the final broad summit area. The wind picked up and the wispy snow became more soft hail. I took a hasty picture, and then descended down the other ridge of the mountain .There was no use hanging around as it wasn’t a day for views!  I didn’t get an ideal route down but it was good enough to take me down steep rock then through the forests and back to the car.
It is the highest altitude I have been to under my own steam, 2,750m, and it wasn’t the easiest of ascents on a tough day for the weather and underfoot conditions. Plus the final arête is about ½ mile long and it is all at about 2,700m high. So it was a pleasing 3 hour run., 2 hours 10 up and 50 minutes down.



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