map of area 3

Col d’Aubisque (AUB)

Height: 1709m

Location: WSW of Lourdes

General Comments

Famous for frequent use by the Tour de France. Popular with members. The short east side is a very spectacular, attractive road running along cliffs in the Cirque du Litor. Adjoining it is a small climb to Col du Soulor, 1474m. The west side is a major 1200-metre ascent, but lacks interest until near the top. It first rises very easily out of touristy Laruns (several hotels) to spa resort of Eaux-Bonnes (no reports on shorter minor road variant through Beost, 489m). It is moderately steep thereafter. Spa at Gourette (1400m) was ‘rather like Skegness in January’ for one unfortunate mist-bound member! Hotels and café there. Like many passes, walks from the summit afford even better views.

Col de Louvie, 1438m. Roughstuff route E of Laruns, a footpath only in higher reaches. A northern parallel traverse alternative to the Aubisque.

Road Condition and Hazards

The cirque section has two short, narrow tunnels where cows, donkeys and goats sometimes lurk! Route sometimes busy in August, with traffic regulation for large vehicles on the cliff section. Surface good in 1998. Closed by snow most years in mid-May.

Facilities

Friendly patron at summit café (1993). Summit café is very crowded in summer (and expensive too!) (2003).

Col des Bescuns (BES)

Height: 515m

Location: Just SW of Lourdes.

General Comments

If the busy pilgrimage centre doesn’t appeal, this modest col on the D213 makes a handy close by-pass. Segus village, 560m, is the road’s highest point, and is arguably a col itself. No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Road Condition and Hazards

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Col des Bordères (BOR)

Height: 1156m

Location: Part of a mostly minor road between Col du Tourmalet, 2115m west side, and Col du Soulor, 1474m.

General Comments

Quiet, pretty (partly farmed) but lengthy southern bypass to busy Argelès-Gazost. Joins east side of Col du Soulor about half way up at Arrens . Detour at Estaing for easy ride to attractive but touristy lake. ‘Hotel du Tech’ in Arrens was a bad experience for one member in 1997, at least!

Road Condition and Hazards

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Facilities

No summit café now. Shops and cafés at Arrens. Campsite and café at Estaing if taking detour to lake.

Col de Castet (CAS)

Height: 868m

Location: One-sided pass NNE of Laruns, and east of Col de Marie-Blanque, 1035m.

General Comments

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members. Short but steep climb from Castet village becomes a track beyond the col leading to:

Col de Jaout, 1506m - which looks an impressive pass on detailed maps, but with only footpaths on the eastern descent.

Road Condition and Hazards

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Col de Couraduque (CDQ)

Height: 1360m

Location: Between Col du Soulor, 1474m and Col de Spandelles, 1378m.

General Comments

Now fully surfaced on the steepish south side from Aucun, 847m, after the easier ascent from Argelès-Gazost in the east. The short north side, still a very rough forestry track in 1999, merely dips to 1185m before re-climbing to Col de Spandelles.

Flattish contour tracks join up with Col de Couret, 1351m and Col de Liar, 1350m, both edging forestry. There are tough-looking climbs to both on tracks from the Aucun valley to the south. Explored by members on tandem, 1999.

Road Condition and Hazards

Mostly quiet (no traffic, July 1999).

Facilities

Large ski station and restaurant at the summit.

Pont d’Espagne (ESP)

Height: 1520m

Location: SSW of Argelès-Gazost

General Comments

Not an OCD claim. Access via the easy climb to Cautarets resort, before steeper cul-de-sac to this popular beauty spot. Used as a Tour de France stage finish once.

Road Condition and Hazards

Well surfaced and scenic, the road is accessible by bike beyond the car park to 1520m. Beyond is easy walking in beautiful surroundings.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Col de Loucroup (LOU)

Height: 504m

Location: Just east of Louvie-Juzon, in northernmost foothills of Pyrenees.

General Comments

Members report seeing col sign in 1998, at this uninteresting miniature pass. If touring E-W or vice versa, this is a VERY soft alternative to the Aubisque!

Road Condition and Hazards

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Luz Ardiden (LUZ)

Height: 1735m

Location: South of Lourdes, west of Col du Tourmalet, 2115m, in eastern part of area.

General Comments

Not an OCD claim. A grassy cul-de-sac at small, dismal-looking ski resort - sometimes used as Tour de France stage finish. Fairly long, and steep lower down. Climbs 1030m in 14km from Luz St Sauveur, and is similar in profile to TRA Col de Tramassel, 1615m. (Variant lower section to the north is theoretically harder.)

This climb will be long remembered as the the place where Lance Armstrong finally sealed victory in the 2003 Tour de France, after a terrific battle with Jan Ullrich throughout the race, which was one of the best Tours for many years. To add to the drama, Armstrong had to recover from a fall after being brought down by a spectator (accidentally). The other riders, including Ullrich, sportingly waited for Armstrong to remount.

Road Condition and Hazards

Good surfaces (1997).

Facilities

Bar at the ski-station is open in summer. (1994)

Col de Marie-Blanque (MAR)

Height: 1035m

Location: South then east of Oloron.

General Comments

Numerous reports concur - the west side from Escot, with long stretches of 12%, is especially difficult. Members’ comments include, ‘always a killer’, ‘the worst climb I ever experienced’, ‘every bit as awful as anticipated’ and a telling ‘we didn’t fancy the Marie-Blanque again’! Mostly wooded, but moderately scenic in parts. The east side from Bielle is easier except for a severe start, and is more scenic (Plateau de Benou half way up is a flat meadow with roaming horses). Two false summits, summit with sign just clear of trees, but poor views.

Road Condition and Hazards

Good surfaces in 1998. Good road conditions in 2000.

Facilities

Campsite half way up west side. No summit café. Hotel at Lurbe just north of west end.

Croix de Puyo (PYO)

Height: 723m

Location: Obscure one-sided road to col, not far south of Lourdes. Lies on the dead-end D713 between hamlets of Berberust,701m and Lias, 759m.

General Comments

Road marked scenic on Michelin, but pass only shown on walking maps. Unsurprisingly, no reports!

Road Condition and Hazards

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Col du Soulor (SOU)

Height: 1474m

Location: WSW of Lourdes.

General Comments

A three-sided pass, often used by the Tour de France, leading on its very short western limb to the much more spectacular Col d’Aubisque, 1709m (via a mere 116m drop.) Good summit views amongst grassy meadows. Gradient signs every km are for the benefit of the many cyclists who come here. Often busy with tourists in July and August. The long north climb winds up through meadows, sometimes quite steeply. The east side above Arrens is a steady 8 - 9%. The preceding climb approach from Argelès-Gazost is a wide shallow road through fields. At Arrens ,alternative roads reach Col des Bordères, 1156m, and a dead end lane to picnic area up Vallee d’Arrens at 1470m (no OCD reports - it forms approach to difficult roughstuff pass of Peyre St. Martin).

In 1999 members explored several cols linked by contour-hugging tracks west of the Col du Soulor, by tandem. A short track from the summit soon reaches Col de Mauben, 1549m and Col de Soum, 1532m (closely connected), before continuing via Col de Bazes, 1520m and entering forest before Col de la Serre, 1458m, to soon join the Col de Couraducque.

Peyre St Martin, 2295m Border roughstuff crossing south of Port d’Arrens to Sallent de Gallego. See RS page 6.

Road Condition and Hazards

Perfect from Argelés-Gazost. Somewhat harsh asphalt on the long northern approach (2001).

Facilities

Tatty summit cafe (drinks and snacks, 1998). Camping, shops, bars and hotels at Argelès and at Arrens.

Col de Spandelles (SPA)

Height: 1378m

Location: West of Argelès-Gazost.

General Comments

Quieter northerly alternative to Col du Soulor, 1474m. The hairpinned western climb is uniformly quite steep, and spectacular. The forested east side from Argelès is alternately shallow and steeper in steps. (See Andy Hunt’s article in OCD Mag. No.37.)

Road Condition and Hazards

Reasonable surface in 1998. The forested east side from Argelès was resurfaced in 1995.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.