Louis went home from Gavarnie. I would be on my own for the rest of the hike.
The HRP heads over a pass to the Cirque d’Estaubé and then to the lower reaches of the Cirque de Troumouse, two lesser-known cirques.
The Auberge de la Munia was comfortable, the Hourquette de Héas less so.
Although the refuge de Barroude burned down in 2014 and the guides all warn of a long trek to reach Parzan, there are ways of breaking the day into two, one at the refuge! Most of the ruins have been cleared away but a storage shed still stands (space for six at a pinch, see photo). A more comfortable solution is to be found at the Barrosa hut, two hours further along.
The area was known for mining. This is part of the cableway used in the extraction of galena.
The lack of information about this hostel on the internet made me doubt its very existence. In reality it is a huge building in a beautiful situation. Tables, chairs, a stove (bring your own wood from the valley), even mattresses.
Another race, this time the 108km, 6700m ascent Gran Trail Aneto-Posets disrupted my plans: no room in the Viadós refuge. So I continued to up the valley to the Añes Cruces hut.
Through the night I could see twinkling shooting stars in the valley below – headtorches.
Another discovery. A recently renovated hut. I didn’t stay here either, having booked into La Soula.
The stage between La Soula and the Portillon refuge has a bad reputation and I left well before dawn. One young man had previously told me I couldn’t do it – too much snow – not that he’d been to look. In the event the Gourgs Blancs glacier no longer exists, just a small patch of snow remains. The descent from the col des Gourgs Blancs needed care but the snow had melted here as well. On the other hand I relished the climb up to the Col du Pluviomètre (rain gauge): with crampons it was much easier than it would have been scrambling over rocks.
But the 1.5km from the Col du Pluviomètre to the hostel took me two hours. No path; only a slope strewn with random cairns suggesting multiple directions; climbing over irregular boulders, boulders so big in places that hands were needed.
After staying overnight in the Portillon hostel I quit the HRP and walked down to Superbagnères on the GR10 on my way home for a second break.