Like all the other walkers in the Orreaga/Roncevaux Pilgrim’s hostel we were woken by the sound of monks singing. But unlike them the four of us were the only ones heading north, still on the Camino, but in the wrong direction. Once we had climbed up to the ridge we were in France – but only just – passing by frontier markers 200 to 204. This is where the Pyrenees really start, although they are still clothed in grass. We saw very few other walkers.
If you don’t have a tent, you still need a roof. I had chosen Egurguy on the basis of the excellent Pyrenees Refuges and Cabanes site. It lived up to expectations, which weren’t very high. I slept in huts about once a week.
In the morning the valley was padded with cotton wool but 200m higher we emerged.
The next night I stayed in the very well-equipped refuge at the Chalets d’Iraty. Alone again the following morning, I climbed up to the Zazpigain ridge, the first real challenge
After following the ridge in the foreground – towards the vulture – the path descends to the left (just visible) before climbing up the cliff again and off to the left.
The HRP and its variants are not waymarked as such, but often follow paths which are.
This is reputed to be the most difficult passage on the Pyrenean Way (GR10), though this view exaggerates the problem. The cable marking the path can be faintly seen running up the cliff and then horizontally top left. The lower end is badly positioned and I didn’t use it.
Sheep are driven up to the summer estives (pastures) at the beginning of summer and will return in September or October.
At Lescun the HRP and GR10 part company. The GR10 heads for Borce but I needed to get back to the frontier ridge.
It was one of those days when you are glad to be above the cloud.
I met a young couple here, looking after sheep and cattle for the summer, living at 1800m above sea level.