Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pic Fourcat Snowshoe

Pic Fourcat (1929m) snowshoe from the Col de Marmare (1361m) near Ax les Thermes. The snow was firm enough to walk on without snowshoes for most of the short circuit (9km).

Franck and Cécile on the descent

 Thanks to Franck and Cécile for the excellent company. Best views were on the descent looking towards Pic Tarbésou

Looking towards Pic Tarbésou (far left)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

First Snow

Out recently investigating the route of a WWII escape route that I read about in 'La Résistance Audoise' that my father in law lent me.

Ernest Zaugg was in charge of a resistance group - the Maquis de Roc Blanc which was named after the peak that overlooks Lake Laurenti. The picture at the top of this blog is of Lake Laurenti and Roc Blanc. Their escape route began at Rouze in France and ended in Soldeu in Andorra.

Tha part of the route I walked began at the  Forestry Refuge where there is a commerative plaque.

'In honour of the French and Allied officers who crossed the Pyrenees on the paths to freedom with the help of the Donezan couriers and the Roc Blanc resistance fighters'

The route then climbs up to the beautiful Lake Laurenti and rather than turn away towards Roc Blanc, carries on up the Laurenti Valley. From the lake onwards the trail is not marked on the map. The weather was overcast and cold and at the head of the valley there was snow which slowed my progress. From the col I followed the trail down to the head of the Galbe Valley and then back up again to the Col de Terrers - the second col of the day. Descending from the col I could make out the faint line of the trail into the distance towards the D'en Beys Refuge, which was the traditional mid way halt.

I had reached my turn around time but decided to climb Pic de Terrers above the col which, from previous visits, I knew offered great views. I wasn't disappointed.

Looking South from Pic de Terrers

Looking North from Pic Terrers

It was very windy on the summit but the sunlight broke through the clouds for the first time that day for just 15 minutes or so, illuminating the ridge line I had crossed and the way I had come. The south facing slopes were without snow but in the other direction, the north facing slopes still held snow.

Two things during the day reinforced how hard the WWII crossings were. The autumn snow around me and the fact that the last hour and a half of the return route from Lake Laurenti back to my car, was finished in the dark because I had not stuck to my turn around time. The couriers and the escapees would have made the WWII crossings in winter and in the dark. Neither  would they have been properly equiped like I was with my modern clothing and boots.

“The desire for freedom resides in every human heart. And that desire cannot be contained forever by prison walls, or martial laws, or secret police. Over time, and across the Earth, freedom will find a way.”  George W. Bush