Refuge de Cougourde to Refuge de Nice

Having finally arrived somewhere with telephone reception I can update some blog for the last few days. I’ve also just added photographs to yesterday.

So…

I don’t think we’ve covered many miles today, but it was all quite hard work, with two high cols to cross, and with terrain becoming increasingly steep, rugged, bouldery, pathless, merciless, not really for humans. According to one person we passed the ground was…there was a special French word for it… pierreier (I’m not sure our English translation of ‘stony’ was really quite right).

But this is about the most spectacular scenery we’ve ever walked in (I’m not sure that ‘walk’ is the right word either). Wherever you look there are threatening cliffs, enormous slabs of rock, in a 3 dimensional world of gothic wonders. We also saw lots of chamois, several bouquetin, and some marmots. We didn’t see any wolves- they are around but unlikely to be spotted. While on the subject of wildlife, I forgot to mention the other day that we disturbed two wild boar on our climb to Roure.

A Bouquetin crosses the path

On our way to the first col, Pas des Ladres, we passed a lovely lake, Lac de Trécapolis.

From here, there was no apparent way forward, with high cliffs surrounding us on all sides and obviously no way of surmounting them. But a path wound it’s way up cunningly and improbably (and, although steep, surprisingly easily).

Looking back

From Pas des Ladres, there was a steep and very pretty descent to La Madone de Fenestre with its Pilgrim Church.

It seemed like an unnecessarily long way down as we only had to go back up again- this time to Pas du Mont Colomb.

This proved to be a most elusive col, we were never sure where it was going to be, as it was hidden by massive buttresses, and hidden corners, and previously unseen gorges. The going got tougher, as path gave way to boulders, where route finding required a bit of concentration.

Which way now?

One bit required a short hands-on scramble.

It was all beginning to have a thrilling and slightly intimidating big mountain serious atmosphere. Eventually the col came into sight and a steep loose climb brought us to a tiny gap in the ridge.

Any hopes that the other other side would be a gentle grassy amble were quickly dashed.

A very steep gully led to a long section of tiring boulders- more pierreier than we really needed by this stage.

Judith in a sea of boulders

Eventually the descent was over and we joined another path for a final easy and quite busy ascent to the magnificent but rather crowded Refuge de Nice.

Refuge de Nice

Regular readers of this blog, may be interested to know that for the second night running we have had beef stew. But mercifully no polenta- last night was rice and tonight was pasta.

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