After a week’s rest at home, I returned to where I had left off, Somport.
Later that day we crossed what seemed an interminable field of boulders, the first of many on the HRP.
The clouds had lifted overnight revealing the Pic du Midi d’Ossau. The concrete mixer and bags of sand had been brought in by helicopter for the renovations.
The path can be seen climbing the cliff in the middle of the photo. There may well be a cable but in places the path is no wider than my shoes placed side-by-side .
The Arrémoulit hostel is just visible next to the lake among the rocks below the snow.
The HRP heads east from here but the Senda heads up to the snow-speckled Col de Tebarray visible here to the south. When I walked this section of the Senda with Hike Pyrenees on 25 June 2013 the mountains were still covered in snow.
Even today, 15 July, there was plenty of snow on the climb up to the Col de la Facha. We were happy to have crampons and ice axes.
The Wallon refuge was full to bursting, partly in preparation for the Course des Refuges (53km with over 3500m of ascent). Hundreds of runners would be coming the other way next day.
Just above the Lac d’Arratille, having crossed a small snowdrift – steps had been cut for the runners – we reached the col d’Arratille (2528m) and crossed into Spain. Shortly afterwards the first runners began to appear.
The runners are heading back along the path we have just taken from the Col d’Arratille, the dip in the ridge on the horizon.
In the entrance hall of the hostel two runners spent the afternoon lying on the floor, with saline drips in their arms, waiting for the helicopter to be freed from more urgent tasks and take them away.
The Ossoue valley was a very long hot descent. From a distance we could see large stones which had detached themselves from the cliffs and come to rest on the remains of winter avalanches. When we approached closer, the stones turned into sheep, their feet embedded firmly in the snow, keeping cool. The more intelligent ones were hiding in the refrigerator, under the edge of the avalanche, protected from the sun by a snow roof.
A photo snatched in the few seconds when no one was in sight.