Wednesday, September 7, 2011


The day's hike was to get driven to the trailhead at Pont Masousa and hike up to the Cabanne Ansabère. From there we would push up the ravine just south of Petite Aiguille and just over the border into Spain before heading back.

Yeah, we get it. Wow!

The first section of the hike is along a rough road up to Pont Lamary, and then on to the Cabanne itself (hey, the need to get the cheese down somehow).

Some distance after Pont Lamary we came to a pasture with lots of livestock. Ahead we could see the Aiguille peaks: Petite on the left, Grande on the right. These are excellent rock climbs for those who can.

The Cabanne is like many Huts in the White Mountains, except that it is the quarters for the shepherds during the season. These guys apparently make some cheese up here and offer it for sale. Alas, there was no one home, so they missed out on a sale.

The Cabanne is located at the bottom of a large bowl. There is a very large pile of boulders and other debris just uphill from it, which I suppose means that they are just outside the zone for serious avalanches and rock fall. Still, why chance it? Single photos alone cannot describe the scale and verticality of the space around here. I'll work on some panoramas when I'm back at my computer in the States.

We headed up those slopes to towards the Col above the Cabanne and just next to Petite Aiguille. Turns out there was a trio climbing it today (right between the two main fingers of rock, but not visible in this image).

The trail sloped steeply upward along the abundant scree. After a climb of over 500 meters, it abruptly leveled off and presented us with a broad moonscape of shattered rock. A little ways beyond, we saw a sign of two that were the only indication that we had crossed over into Spain.

In my most awful accent, I strung together a bit of Spanish to ask a nearby couple "Aqui esta la frontera, si?" They assured me that, yes, I had arrived.

Although it was quite cool and windy at the pass, the heat from the bowl had turned Mark's crunch bar into Goo de Nestle.

After not very long at the pass, we turned around and started the steep and slidy way back down. Over the next 1-1/2, we would descend nearly 1100 meters - our feet were aching.

We passed plenty of grazing livestock on this trip: cows, sheet, and horses. This ram's horns make me wonder if he ever has trouble getting low enough to the ground.

We passed this car on the way up. Little did we know it would be so popular with the locals.

This evening we are hosting a dinner for some local British grad students. We had met them fishing around in Lac de Lhurs for a lost datalogger, and are headed back to London tomorrow. Being vegetarian, we will be having a markedly different cuisine from the past couple of (meat and animal-fat heavy) dinners. No matter, we are all well acquainted with vegetarian cooking.

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