map of area 5

Col de l’Aubague (ABG)

Height: 800m

Location: West of St Bertrand de Comminges, north of central Pyrenees.

General Comments

Moderate climb on minor road, apparently wooded towards the top. Links westward to both Station de Cap Nestes, 1595m and Col d’Estivière, 1217m. No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Road Condition and Hazards

Surface unconfirmed.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Hourquette d’Ancizan (ANC)

Height: 1538 or 1564m

Location: A westerly "bypass" to Arreau.

General Comments

A very attractive alternative to Col d’Aspin, 1489m and well graded; steeper south side. Excellent views of peaks when descending south from summit. Easily graded north side runs through open meadows, and includes a dip before the summit.

Road Condition and Hazards

Opened about 1972, and re-surfaced by 1998.

Facilities

Hotel at Guchen and café at Ancizan, at foot of south side. Café at Payolle.

Artigue (ATG)

Height: 1240m

Location: NNE of Luchon

General Comments

Cul-de-sac road to village. Not an OCD claim. Believed scenic and known to be very steep (averaging 10% for 6km). No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Road Condition and Hazards

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Col d’Aspin (ASP)

Height: 1489m

Location: NW of Arreau.

General Comments

Open late April in 1991. Popular with club cyclists, and much used by the Tour de France. Steadily graded throughout (easier going west to east) and not too busy, except in high season. Pleasant views down throughout the open east side, and also on the west side where the forest covers breaks (especially of Pic du Midi de Bigorre, 2872m). Cattle and horses frequent summit. Quieter alternatives are Col de Beyrède, 1417m (north) and Hourquette d’Ancizan, 1538/1564m (south).

Road Condition and Hazards

Re-surfaced in 1997 with kilometre signs to show average gradient, height and distance.

Facilities

Nothing at summit. Café about 1 mile from the top to the east, another at Espiadet. Hotels either end, at Arreau and at Ste. Marie de Campan (Hotel des Deux Cols recommended 1996). Cluster of bars and cafés in hamlet of Payolle, about 7km from Ste. Marie de Campan. Shops and cafés in Arreau. Further on, in Ste. Lary-Soulan, Hotel Mercure (tel 05 62 99 50 00) highly recommended.

Lac d’Aumar (AUM)

Height: 2192m

Location: WSW of touristy St Lary-Soulan.

General Comments

Not an OCD claim. Cul-de-sac to scenic lake. An easy start precedes turn off to a steady climb to 1875m junction for Lac de Cap-de-Long, where road dips before steeper finish.

Roughstuff traverse continues to west side of Col du Tourmalet via Col d’Aubert, 2498m.

Road Condition and Hazards

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Facilities

Tourist amenities.

Col d’Azet/Col de Val Louron-Azet (AZE)

Height: 1578m

Location: East of St Lary Soulan

General Comments

Scenic road (especially summit), incorporating section of GR10. Hang-gliders frequent the skies. West side moderately steep at times, ascending via three smartened-up villages (without shops/cafes) before easier last stretch. East side is fairly steep beyond Genos. Sign at main road says ‘Col d’Azet’ (it was called ‘Col de Peyrefite’ in roughstuff days, now also called ‘Col de Val Louron-Azet’ on the summit sign).

This road was first tarsealed between Azet and the ski-station Val Louron in the second half of the 1990s for a passage of the Tour de France (road paint of rider names still visible in 2002). Both sides are rather steep in the lower kilometres and ease a bit near the summit. Very steep section through village of Azet. From the col there is a great view to both sides and with clear conditions one can nicely see the narrow gap of the Col de Peyresourde in the mountainside to the east.

Road Condition and Hazards

Recently and well surfaced route (1994). Well engineered and wide on east side, with super-smooth surface (2001). When descending to St.Lary, watch out in the village Azet where the road has a sharp turn to the right when passing the church. (When ascending, the road becomes very steep through the village of Azet.)

Facilities

None at summit. On the west side several bars in the villages along the road. On the east side, good lakeside café in Genos, located 75m down right turn (when descending) from mini-roundabout when entering village. Val Louron is closed in summer.

Port de Balès (BAL)

Height: 1755m

Location: NW of Luchon.

General Comments

Broad open summit, marked by a stone sign. Lane enters a peaceful wooded stream valley beyond Ferrere. At junction beyond bridge after Granges de Couhens, go left towards "Refuge de Saubette"and commence steeper climbing up wooded cliff sides, leaving the stream far below. Dozens of squashed fire salamanders seen on road here - no live ones! With about a mile to go the road suddenly enters a wide bowl of green pasture with grazing cattle.

Col de l’Aouet, 1730m is a footpath accessed by tarmac lane going right at Granges de Couhens junction.

Road Condition and Hazards

Very minor but well surfaced south side from Luchon, occasionally steep with long shallow stretches to Bourg d’Ouiel (1335m). Beyond here the tarmac is virtually all gone, the track badly eroded (1998), on open hillside (junction for Port de Pierrefite, 1855m is very near the top). North side from interesting village of Mauleon Barousse, was newly surfaced throughout in 1998.

In 200, no change in the road condition on the south side compared to the description from 1998. The north side is good but had two large rocks (size of a small car) on the road.

Facilities

There are no facilities in between Mauleon-Barousse and Bourg-d’Oueill.

Col de Beyrède (BEY)

Height: 1417m

Location: Northern alternative to Col d’Aspin, 1489m.

General Comments

The col summit is a broad open area criss-crossed by tracks, and surrounded by curtains of dense forest. Very quiet. Michelin shows five approaches! The main eastern approach from Beyrede village is the northern variant, running by the river. It sometimes exceeds 10% in its upper reaches. The higher and more scenic southern easterly approach, also from Beyrede is shorter and steeper (exceeding 10% for 4 kilometres). This forestry route may have been the original public road, but is only signposted locally, not on the main road to the east. This south west side to Espiadet is steep enough to be reported ‘cruel’ and shortly joins the west side of the Col d’Aspin. 1489m.

Road Condition and Hazards

The southern easterly approach from Beyrede is reported all surfaced ‘after a fashion’ in 1995, and possibly worse now (perilous unlidded drainage channels).

Take care descending the steep south west side to Espiadet, although formerly ‘lethal’ drainage gullies were improved by 1998.

Facilities

Summit auberge (inn) reported simple and costly.

Lac de Cap-de-Long (CAP)

Height: 2161m

Location: WSW from St Lary-Soulan.

General Comments

Cul-de-sac - not an OCD claim. A 24-kilometre continuous climb heading WSW from St Lary-Soulan. Excellent access road to very high beautiful lake (barrage). Steepens after shallow start on the main road. At 1875m there is a fork going to Lac d’Aumar.

Road Condition and Hazards

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Facilities

A magnet for tourists in high seaon, with places to eat and drink.

Col du Couret (COU)

Height: 1199m

Location: SW of Bagneres de Bigorre.

General Comments

Forestry road. South side is deteriorating to rough stuff (1997). Before 1995 the north side was also partly roughstuff. Quietly enjoyable but not spectacular. Steep mid sections on both sides.

Road Condition and Hazards

As above.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Col de Coupe (CPE)

Height: 720m or 732m

Location: East of Col des Palomieres, 810m.

General Comments

Part of undulating route as alternative to Col d’Aspin, 1489m, going E-W. A very minor climb on both sides. Secondary road indicated scenic on Michelin. No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members. From the col, and also from Esparros, two forest tracks eventually join to go to:-

Col de Couradabat, 1028m rideable on low-geared tandem in 1998. First 2km from Esparros surfaced (not on Michelin). Track descends west to Arrodets.

Road Condition and Hazards

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Col de la Courade (CRD)

Height: 1319m

Location: South of Bagneres de Bigorre on very minor D54 road.

General Comments

Alternate name is Col de Niclade. Lengthily bypasses a section of easy main road between Beaudean and Rimoula. (Road but not col marked on Michelin.) No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members, but known to be quite steep, especially the wooded north side (much 10%). South side open and more scenic. The pass itself is at 1295m, but the road goes higher.

Road Condition and Hazards

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Col d’Estivière (EST)

Height: 1217m

Location: North then east from Arreau.

General Comments

Very quiet and narrow forestry road. West side climbs steadily between 7- 9%. It descends gradually before steep gradients lower down. Much enjoyed by one Member.

Road Condition and Hazards

In 1998 the tarmac on this side was poor in places, with a little muddy roughstuff each side of the summit (a forestry clearing).In 1985 the east side had poor surfaces.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Col de Lancon (LNC)

Height: 1120m

Location: The D129 runs SE directly from Arreau to a pass near Lancon village.

General Comments

Small fairly steep lane. Two other approaches from the south are probably shallower. Michelin does not mark the col, hence easily ignored when touring. It would be an extra claim to squeeze between the Aspin and Peyresourde, which cyclists commonly link a route over. No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Road Condition and Hazards

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Pic du Midi de Bigorre (MID)

Height: 2872m

Location: Famous mountain top observatory above summit of Col du Tourmalet.

General Comments

Subject to access (currently unconfirmed, Spring 2002) this highly recommended toll road will give the Pyrenees a higher surfaced route than can be found in all the Alps! It can still be shut by snow at the end of June. Starting at the Col du Tourmalet summit, it was formerly a steep and loose-surfaced track (reported ‘easily ridable’ in 1990). Stunningly scenic with spectacular cliff edges and two short tunnels. However, with the observatory being revamped as a major tourist attraction, expect unpleasant traffic in high season (especially late July and August). Claiming the Col de Sencours, 2378m or the Col des Laquets, 2637m en route seems unwarranted if reaching the peak.

Road Condition and Hazards

See above.

Facilities

Café at summit of Tourmalet.

Station de Cap Nestes (NES)

Height: 1595m

Location: Some way due SW of St Gaudens, in northern central Pyrenees.

General Comments

Not an OCD claim. Fairly recent road to recreational mountain centre. Apparently long, scenic and quite steep in places. No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Road Condition and Hazards

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Piau-Engaly (P-E)

Height: 1875m

Location: WSW of St Lary-Soulan.

General Comments

Not an OCD claim. Cul-de-sac to futuristic-looking ski resort, branching off road to Bielsa tunnel. 1999 Tour de France stage finish. No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Road Condition and Hazards

Well surfaced.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Col de Palomieres (PAL)

Height: 810m

Location: ESE of Bagneres de Bigorre.

General Comments

Three-sided minor pass. Gentle, pleasant climb with open top - extensive view of north edge of the Pyrenees. Quiet-looking lanes undulate east , linking with Col de Coupe, 720m.

Road Condition and Hazards

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Col de Peyresourde (PEY)

Height: 1569m

Location: Between Luchon and Arreau.

General Comments

Links Luchon with Arreau via attractive but not spectacular open green summit. Quite busy in August but reasonable in June, July and September. Good surface in 1998. Open by end of April 1991. A Tour de France favourite and popular with club cyclists. The east side is evenly graded at 7-8%. A minor variant midway passes through villages. Recommended detour along Oo valley (Lac d’Oo requires one hour walk each way from road’s end). The west side has irregular grades, starting shallow, then quite steep midway with a medium finish. Pleasant views descending to Arreau. Short detour to Peyresourde village (W side of summit) affords views of Pic du Midi de Bigorre, 2872m. Descent to Luchon is superb.

Road Condition and Hazards

Good surface in 1998 and 2002.

Facilities

Small summit kiosk still serving very cheap good pancakes and beverages with style in 1998 and 2002. Another cafe 1 mile to west of the top. Camping and much accommodation in Luchon; ‘Hotel Rencluse’ recommended in 1996. Campsites packed in August 1998.

Port de Pierrefite (PFT)

Height: 1855m

Location: Just south of Port de Balès 1755m summit.

General Comments

Contour-hugging road follows open mountainside, climbing gradually to dead-end the col (mountain chalet en route). Excellent view down Vallée d’Oueil. The adventurous may wish to make a traverse west from:

Port de Pierrefite, 1855m ‘Daft alternative but good fun’ instead of Col de Peyresourde. See See RS page 11. There is a steep and narrow footpath, partly rideable if descending, down the west side to and beyond the Lac de Bordères. See OCD Mags. 20 and 56.

Road Condition and Hazards

Tarmac potholed, but largely smooth in 1998. In 2000, no change in the road condition on the south side compared to the description from 1998.

Facilities

No facilities at the summit.

Col de Portet (PTT)

Height: 2215m

Location: West of St. Lary Soulan

General Comments

Very big climb on quiet and narrow route. Superb views - especially on the pass (panorama overlooks Col d’Azet and Col de Peyresourde). See article in OCD Mag. 29. Mid-climb detour accesses modernistic ski resort of Pla d’Adet (Tour de France stage finish).

See RS page 7 for the rough route on the W side.

Road Condition and Hazards

Surfaced on east side only and, like many modern routes, somewhat steeper than average, often exceeding 10%. Slightly harder profile than the famous Col du Tourmalet. Surface mostly good in 1998 but very rough beyond the gallery, near the top.

The road is mainly good (2000). Potholes in the first 1-2 kms after leaving the road to Pla d’Adet and in rather poor condition after the gallery. The gallery is used as a shelter by sheep; watch out for animals as well as large amounts of sheep dung.

Facilities

The closest bar, restaurant, hotel and camping is in St.Lary-Soulans. In Pla d’Adet everything is closed in summer.

Col de Ris (RIS)

Height: 1110m

Location: ESE of Arreau

General Comments

Modest, easy pass - a circuitous lane through hamlets on the lower west side of the Col de Peyresourde, 1569m. Village of Ris is just below the pass. No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Road Condition and Hazards

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Superbagnères (SUP)

Height: 1804m

Location: Above Luchon

General Comments

Wide, long cul-de-sac road, highly recommended for spectacular views. Look over the summit edge to see the spa town, almost a vertical km below! Literal interpretation of detailed maps shows the ski station’s hotel and car park to be on a gently rounded peak or ‘cime’. This is separated from the main mountain mass by an unnamed col at 1786m, crossed transversely by the road. (Traditionally however, it is not recognized as an OCD claim.) Sometimes a Tour de France stage finish, ending steeply - Britain’s Robert Millar won here in 1989.

Road Condition and Hazards

Well surfaced.

Facilities

Huge hotels at summit. Plentiful accommodation in Luchon.

Col du Tourmalet (TOU)

Height: 2115m

Location: South then west of Bagnères-de -Bigorre.

General Comments

Celebrated Pyrenean col, crossed record number of times by Tour de France, before 2002. Very scenic (although members’ enjoyment varies widely) and thoroughly recommended except during busy August (quiet again in September). Route still closed in mid-May 1985 and 1986 but open in early June and in mid-September 1985. New cyclists’ monument. New road (formerly track) ascends from summit to Pic du Midi de Bigorre, 2872m. The west side is slightly the steeper on average, but is evenly graded. The east side starts easily but has a tough mid section above Gripp. It has very attractive waterfalls, and km signs informative to cyclists.

Col d’Aubert, 2498m Roughstuff south from west side of Col du Tourmalet to Lac d’Aumar, 2190m. See RS page 7.

Road Condition and Hazards

Well-engineered road - major repairs in 1994. Lots of paint left by Tout de France spectators! Caution: cows in the covered sections below La Mongie!

Facilities

Summit with cafe and restaurant now tatty with over-development. Campsites at both ends of the route. Hotel de Eaux Vives, Luz St Sauveur reported excellent in 1997. The east side has hotels above Artigues, 1270m and at ugly la Mongie, 1750m. Bareges, 1220m on the west side has several hotels. Ste. Marie de Campan has two hotels (‘Deux Cols’ recommended but both reported cyclist-orientated) where, famously, early Tour de France rider Eugene Christophe stoically mended broken forks on his bike before heartless officials penalised him for getting assistance with the blacksmith’s bellows.

Col de Tramassel (TRA)

Height: 1615m (not 1516m)

Location: East of Argelès-Gazost.

General Comments

Scenic road to and beyond winter ski resort of Hautacam, and a Tour de France finish climb in recent years. 15km climb starts from near Argelès, with erratic gradients never exceeding 10%. Surface ends at 1660m. Considered tough by at least one member, and another member finds it one of the harder climbs in the area due to the highly irregular gradients.

From the col, an unsealed but passable road continues for another 1.5 kms to a small parking at Col de Moulata (1675m).

Further east, on roughstuff, is the Col d’Ouscouaou, 1898m - see RS page 7.

Road Condition and Hazards

Only one side surfaced.

Facilities

Nice solitary restaurant found at the col in 1994. Nice restaurant/bar at the summit (2000).

Cirque de Troumouse (TRM)

Height: 2103m

Location: East of Gavarnie.

General Comments

Not an OCD claim. A long cul-de-sac climb starting from Luz St Sauveur. Shallow to Gedre on Gavarnie road, then moderate and uninteresting to Heas (1521m). Beyond here an exciting narrow toll road (free to cyclists) coils tightly up open mountainside into a wonderful cirque (car park and chapel).

Road Condition and Hazards

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.

Facilities

No reports by Cycloclimbing OCD members.