On the path to the Montcalm
The Prunadière hut
This month’s program includes two courses (12 km long and 660 m positivealtitude difference & 26 km long and 1625 m positive altitude difference) thathighlight the Prunadière hut.The start and finish of the two courses will take place in the car park located atthe entrance to Marc, on the right coming from Auzat.
The first course is 12 km long with 660 m positive altitude differenceThe two courses begin by taking the famous GR10. You will start the climbgradually to Mounicou, before being immediately in the thick of it with a morevertical climb that winds. You will have to follow the markings of the GR10 andnot the yellow markings at an intersection at an altitude of 1349 m.You will then be on a magnificent path in balcony with a view of the valley andthe Montcalm massif. You will then reach the Prunadière forest hut, a smallhaven of peace with its source flowing right next to it. For information, this hut isopen.The end of the ascent is near on an easy path which will lead you to the pass in afir tree forest.You will then start the descent on a very pleasant path that winds.Arrival at the intersection between the GR 10 on which you are and the variant ofthe GR 10 that you will have to take to start the return to Marc via the squarechannel. This channel makes it possible to walk on a rather flat and pleasantpath until the end of the hike loop.At the intersection, for the aficionados of positive altitude difference, it ispossible to turn around and retrace your steps to make a walk with more than1000 m positive altitude difference.
The GPX track:
The second course is 26 km long with 1625 m of positive altitudedifference.The first part up to the intersection between the GR 10 and the GR 10 variant isidentical to the previous course.You will then have to continue to descend on the GR10 towards Artiès and thencontinue on the GR 10 which is a balcony path between Artiès and Pradières. You
then descend to the bridge to cross the road and start a very steep climb ofabout 450 m positive altitude difference on a variant of the GR10.You will then join an intersection where you will find the classic GR10. You willhave to turn right on a magnificent path in balcony with a view of Izourt.You will join the path of the PICaPICA at the Orris de Journosque and you willfollow the same route to the Izourt dam.For your information, there is a water point when continuing towards the forktowards Petsiguer.The descent to Pradières is done by the GR10. You can then return by the samepath or try a very wild path a little further below. After passing Artiès again, youreach the intersection where the previous course ends. You then take a right toreturn to Marc as in the previous course.
The Siguer Valley
This month’s program includes two routes (13 km and 1050 m positive altitude difference & 23 km and 1550 m positive altitude difference) which highlight the Siguer valley. This valley is located between Aston and Vicdessos and has borders with Andorra. The start and finish of the two routes will take place in the village which has the same name as the valley, Siguer.
The first route is 23 km long with 1550 m positive altitude difference.
The two routes begin by taking the famous GR10. You are immediately in the thick of it with a good climb towards the village of Gestiès. The ascent continues until the Col de Gamel 1389 m. You then join the Crête de la Bède to reach the Pla de Montcamp 1905 m, after 1150 m positive altitude difference in just over 5 km. You descend to the Col de Sasc 1798 m and then reach the Rocher de Miglos.
The descent follows the Crête de la Lesse to the pass of the same name. You switch on your left in the descent which leads to Arquizat via Norrat and the Ravine du Correc. You then attack the second difficulty of the day with a climb in the Bois de Nayan. The Besset forest track will lead you to Gestiès, passing by the St Nicolas chapel. All you have to do is let yourself descend to the starting point by taking the GR10 as you did when you started the first ascent.
The second course is 13 km long with 1050 m positive altitude difference.
The first part up to the Col de Gamel is identical to the previous route. Once reached this pass, you will have to take on your left and follow the path that descends to Arquizat via the hamlet of Norgeat. You will then find the itinerary of the first route until the end of the training circuit.
This tour can also be done by mountain bike but in the opposite direction: climb to the Col de Larnat then the Roc de Miglos and finally, a technical downhill ride to Gestiès.
On the path to the PICaPICA.
This is the same course as the one of our mountain ultra-trail without the first crossing to Andorra and the Soulcem / Soulcem loop.
This route to and from Auzat is 71.7 km long with 7200 m of positive altitude difference. Thanks to the refuges along the route, it is feasible in 4 stages or more with bivouacs at the car park of Soulcem and L'Artigue. It is therefore possible for mountains hikers to discover the beauty of this magnificent course with maximum comfort and for the ultra-trail runners to recognize the track with stages adaptable to everyone’s individual pace.
1st stage Auzat-Refuge Fourcat lake:
22.5 km / 2737 m positive altitude difference / 1007 m negative altitude difference.
2nd stage Refuge Fourcat lake-Refuge du Pinet:
19.8 km / 2517 m positive altitude difference / 2757 m negative altitude difference.
3rd stage Refuge du Pinet-Refuge de Bassiès:
18.2 km / 1558 m positive altitude difference / 2165 m negative altitude difference.
4th stage Refuge de Bassiès-Auzat:
11.2 km / 389m positive altitude difference / 1232 m negative altitude difference.
Our goal is to make the greatest number of people discover our mountains and this hiking route is a great way to achieve this.
And maybe this course will be the subject of a race in 2020 to allow runners who hesitate to register for PICaPICA to discover the joys of the mountain ultra-trail.
The map :
The downloadable GPS track:
The contact details of the refuges:
Refuge de l’étang Fourcat 2445m :
05 61 65 43 15
Refuge du Pinet 2240m :
05 61 64 80 81
Refuge de Bassiès 1650m :
06 89 40 65 00
The Picot Lakes (2040 m, 2163 m, 2286 m and 2416 m)
In this month's program, two courses (7 km long and 1200 m positive altitude difference; 15 km long and 1500 m positive altitude difference) that highlight the Picot lakes which are 4 in number and are located one above the other with a view to the Montcalm. This valley is very wild and very steep. The second course allows you to discover a very mineral universe before descending to the Fourcat Refuge. The Fourcat lakes and the Oussade lake will complete a tour under the sign of the lakes.
- The first course is 8.6 km long for 900 m positive altitude difference.
The Picot Lakes (2040 m, 2163 m, 2286 m and 2416 m) round trip.
After parking just before the dam, you take the track on the left which quickly turns into a mountain side path marked yellow. You are on a flat path until you reach the stream; enjoy it because it is the only flat part of the ride. Just before the stream you follow the markings that take you to the right and you start the ascent along the waterfall, straight on the slope. You can admire the Orris du Picot at 1920 m altitude. After a first stony passage you reach the first Picot lake (2040 m). You follow the path that bypasses the lake on the left and continue your ascent in the rocks with a beautiful view of the waterfall.
The second Picot lake (2163 m) has to be bypassed on the right while carefully following the cairns in the scree and the rhododendrons to reach the third lake (2286 m). This time, you will go around it on the left, at first through scree and then on a path in a grassy slope. You then reach the last lake (2416 m) in the heart of a magnificent circus with on one side the Picot (2707 m) and on the other the Malcaras (2865 m). You can go down to the third lake by making a loop through a path marked with cairns. From the third lake, the descent uses the same path as the ascent.
The downloadable GPS track:
- The second course is 15 km long for 1500 m positive altitude difference.
The lakes of Picot, Fourcat, Oussade and Soulcem:
The start is identical to the route to the Picot lakes and at the fourth lake you continue to climb along the marked path that rises towards the ridge on the right of the Picot. It is important to carefully follow the marked path which leads you to a very vertical passage secured by cables. Once you have crossed this more impressive than dangerous passage, you reach a pass on the ridge that connects the Picot to the Malcaras. You still follow the markings in a very wild valley that will take you down and up in a huge scree to reach a new ridge line.
You then overlook the small Fourcat lake and you see the Refuge of the Fourcat lake on its promontory. You descend on the path that becomes grassy towards the refuge. After a little climb you reach the Fourcat lake and its guarded refuge (the highest in Ariège, 2445 m). Take the opportunity to eat something and have a little break on the beautiful terrace. You leave, in the footsteps of the PICaPICA, following the yellow markings and indications to the Pic du Malcaras / Pic of the Fourcat lake bypassing the Fourcat lake on the right. This path will split in two and you will have to take on the right towards the Malcaras to reach the lake of the Oussade. You follow the path in a scree then on a very steep path.
Once arrived at the Malcaras pass, you can reach the peak on your right or go down on the path towards Carol's orris. This descent is extremely wild and requires great concentration especially in case of rain or fog. A lot of PICaPICA runners have suffered in this part. After a very mineral part, then a technical passage along a waterfall, you will arrive on a grassy ground with on your right a shepherd's hut. You carefully follow the path to reach the Orris du Carla. Once at the Orris, you go back to the car park while walking along the Soulcem lake for more than 1 km.
The downloadable GPS track:
ATTENTION ces itinéraires sont sur des sentiers de haute montagne, très verticaux et techniques.
Ils sont très souvent enneigés même au début de l’été.
Soyez très prudent et conscient de leurs difficultés avant de vous y engager.
The Pic des Trois Seigneurs / The Peak of the Three Lords (2199 m).
On this month’s program, three courses (7 km long and 1200 m positive altitude difference / 17 km and 1700 m / 33 km and 1850 m) to discover the Pic des Trois Seigneurs and its mountain range, an iconic summit with on one side a beautiful 360-degrees panorama to the lower Ariège and the other side, the whole chain of the Pyrenees.
The starting point of the three courses is the same: the village of Suc.
- The first course is 7 km long for 1200 m positive altitude difference:
The Pic de Pioulou (2102 m)
At the entrance to the village of Suc, you park in front of the "PEP" groups reception center. By the way, it’s a good idea of accommodation alone or in a group if you come here to practice trail. In front of the church, turn right on a very steep street. At the end, in front of the wash house, you turn left on the hiking trail that leads you to the bridge of la Ganioule to reach Arbu or the Pic des Trois Seigneurs. Just before reaching km 2, you have to turn right. The path is not marked but it is quite visible. Keep an eye on the GPS track. The climb is severe up to the shepherd’s hut. At that time, you will enjoy the view to the surrounding summits. The path continues on a ridge and goes around the mountain circle. You approach the Pic des Trois Seigneurs and you discover the valley of Courbière, the blue lake and the Artax lake, the lower Ariège and the region of Toulouse, the Mont Fourcat ... On the other side, a view to the Bassiès and the Montcalm mountain range is offered to you. One idea: you can join the ridge of The Trois Seigneurs through a VK (Vertical Kilometer).
Being well exposed to the sun, this course is practicable early in the season. It is also possible to start from the village of Sentenac.
- The second course is 17 km long for 1400 m positive altitude difference:
The Pic des Trois Seigneurs / The Peak of the Three Lords (2199 m)
The departure is identical to the Pic du Pioulou course which will be used on the descent but you will have to stay on the highest path, on the mountain side. The climb will be relatively easy up to the stone bridge of Ganioule (1420 m) where the path will become steeper. You will see many orris before arriving at the beautiful Lake of Arbu (1720 m) you will have to get around on the left side. Follow carefully the yellow mark to reach the West ridge between the Pic de Barres and the Pic des Trois Seigneurs (2099 m). Continue towards the peak while following the markup. Once at the Pic des Trois Seigneurs, continue to progress on the ridge by following well the markup. You will successively cross the Pic de Créde (2197 m) and the Pic de Peyroutet (2165 m) to reach the Col de la Couillate (1961 m) overlooking the aptly named long lake and blue lake. You then join the route of the Pic du Pioulou to reach this summit and then go down to Suc.
WARNING: This path on a ridge is to be prohibited in case of bad weather conditions and low visibility! In addition, at some passages, you may have to use your hands.
- The third course is 33 km long for 1850 m positive altitude difference:
The Pic des Trois Seigneurs / The Peak of the Three Lords (2199 m) and all its mountain ridge.
The path up to the Pic du Pioulou is the same as the previous course. Once at the summit, follow the ridge to reach the Col du Bassibié (2034 m) and go up again to the Pic de Bassibié (2114 m). Continue on the ridge, enjoy the view on the Artax lake that you overlook before reaching the Col de Lastris via the ridge of Courtal Terrous. All this part of the ridge from the Pioulou peak does not present any technical difficulty. At the pass, take the GR of the Tour du Pic des Trois Seigneurs (yellow and red marking) on your right and follow it up to Sentenac through the villages of Lapege, Ilier and Orus. Once in Sentenac, you just have to join the village of Suc.
The Pic du Far (1925 m)
With the summer temperatures of these last weeks we can begin to plan the future mountain trekking that we will be able to realize as soon as the snow has melted.
On this month's program, three courses (10, 16 & 18 km) showcasing the Pic du Far, a wild peak with one of the most beautiful panoramas on the Montcalm massif.
The starting point of these 3 itineraries is the same: The parking of the Auzat gymnasium.
- The first course is 10 km long for 1200 m positive altitude difference.
This is the itinerary of the first VK (Vertical Kilometer) in the history of the Montcalm Challenge. Indeed, before taking place at the Pic du Sarrasi, our VK was at the Pic du Far. After leaving the streets of Auzat in the direction of Saleix, the slope increases rapidly. Do not miss at the intersection the path to the Pic du Far. You will find it on your left, 50 m after the intersection with the trail that leads you to the Virgin. The path will quickly turn into a very nice single track. You will rise gradually on a zigzag climb. A mountain cabin will mark the first 500 m of positive altitude difference in less than 2.5 km. After 750 m of positive altitude difference, you will have a very beautiful view over Auzat and its sports field. The exit of the forest will take place after 900 m of positive altitude difference with a succession of orris and a magnificent sight on the 3000 m summits. A flat part of a few meters is followed by an off-track path where you will have to follow the path and especially some cairns that will guide you to the top (be careful, this part is very wild, to be done only with good visibility and while being very careful). At the top you will face the Massif de Bassiès and its magnificent peaks (Cap de Fum, Pic de Sauve, Pic de Belcaire and the Pique Rouge de Bassiès). The return is made by the same way in the opposite direction, with a lot of caution.
The downloadable GPS track:
The second course is 16 km long for 1250 m positive altitude difference.
After reaching the Pic du Far (1925 m) you will find a small single track on a relatively flat part overlooking the Bassiès lakes. Be careful, this part is not marked, it is necessary to follow the cairns and not to go down directly to the lakes. You will follow a path with increasing slope that will drive you down to the “the long lake” at 1629 m altitude where you will find the GR 10. You will continue on your left to reach the Escales lake, its dam and its view on the Pique d’Endron. Just after the dam, you will cross the stream of Bassiès on a dry-stone bridge which is one of the beauties of our massif. You continue to descend on the GR for 2 km. Once arrived at a crossing at the attitude of 1173 m you will leave the GR 10 to continue your descent towards the parking of Massada. You then follow the final part of the Montcalm Marathon to the parking of the Capunta waterfall where you go back over the cemetery on a path on the mountain slope. After passing the Virgin who watches over Auzat you will find the beginning of the course. You will then have to walk only a few hundred meters to find the streets of the village and the parking.
The downloadable track:
The third course is 18 km long for 1500 m positive altitude difference.
At the intersection between the “long lake” and the GR 10 you will take this time the GR on your right towards the refuge of Bassiès. You will walk along the "major lake" and "Pla de la Font lake" ponds to reach the refuge which is open from late May to mid-October. After a stop, you will find the itinerary of the PICaPICA with a short but steep climb to reach the Port de Bassiès. The path descends to the beautiful Alat lake before going up to finally descend to the port de Saleix which will allow you to admire the Couserans. The descent will lead you to the Orris de Carrol and its shepherd's hut. The path becomes a little wider to take you to the Col de la Crouzette. For the braves, you can continue your path by taking the final part of the PICaPICA race via the GR of the Tour des Trois Seigneurs but the easiest solution is to continue on the long track that will take you to Saleix. Arrived at the village, follow the yellow marks to go down directly to Auzat.
The downloadable GPS track:
The Villages Tour :
With the winter and the heavy snowfall of recent weeks it is necessary to adapt your training. Our valley has many resources and we can practice the trail 365 days a year.
This month's program includes two circuits (42 km & 26 km) that tour the villages of our valley with a high point at only 1300m altitude which allows them to be followed when there is snow on the summits:
- The first circuit starts from Auzat and is 42km long for 2200m positive altitude difference:
The start takes place at the Cascades car park in Capounta. You will then follow the beginning of the Trail of Miners, of the Novis Trail and of the PICaPICA. You will cross the villages of Olbier then Goulier to reach the Peak of Risoul where was developed a free flight paragliding takeoff area. You will descend to the village of Sem to discover the remains of the mines of Rancié. Arriving at the pass of the Sainte Tanoque cross, you will join the famous GR10. A descent will allow you to cross Lercoul, Seuillac and Siguer. It is then time to climb, again on the GR 10, to reach Gesties where you leave the GR to follow a forest road on the side of the mountain before descending to the village of Capoulet and Junac.
You will follow the Vicdessos river before going up to Lapege. You will then be on the beautiful GR of the “tour des 3 seigneurs”. This path on the side of the mountain will take you through the villages of Illier (where you will find the route of the Novis trail) Orus and Sentenac. You are at the foot of Pic d'Engral which can be a good training spot but you will have to wait until the snow melts. You leave then the GR to join Saleix and go down again to Auzat. This route allows you to resume long training sessions while discovering all the beautiful villages of our valley.
The map :
The profile :
The downloadable GPS track:
- The second circuit starts from Arconac and is 26km long for 1600m positive altitude difference:
The start takes place at Arconac, at the food supply point of the Novis Trail, with a first climb on the path but in the opposite direction of the Novis Trail, to arrive at the first village you will cross: Sem. You join the itinerary of the big circuit. You follow the same route to Illier and then run down back to Arconac, again taking the route of the Novis Trail but in the reverse direction. This route is more accessible and allows you to discover villages that our official routes do not cross.
The map :
The profile :
The downloadable GPS track :
Square channel, path FFA :
With winter and the comeback of the snow, it is necessary to adapt one’s training. Our valley has many resources and one can practice the trail 365 days a year.
In this month's programme, an idea of an itinerary on the “square duct” that is part of the GR 10 but above all, an FFA labeled trail. A loop of a little less than 8 km with a little more than 300 m positive altitude difference, starting at the Pont de Gers.
There are two possibilities for this itinerary:
- Doing it in the traditional way as indicated on the information board located at the start of the trail. The advantage is to be able to have a long part of warm up on a false flat and to be able to well visualize the indications (every 100 m) on the “square duct”.
- Doing it in the opposite direction, which allows to have a good altitude difference at the beginning and more important, to recognize the course in view of the Montcalm marathon.
It is this second option that I describe below:
After 800 m uphill you will join the Montcalm marathon route. The ascent continues and after a little more than 1.5 km warm up, where the main altitude difference of the loop is concentrated, you will arrive on the “square duct” at 1180 m altitude. This old abandoned aqueduct built in 1904, channeled the water collected upstream to a loading chamber, called the water chamber. From there, a forced water line towards the Auzat hydroelectric station channels the water whose driving force operates the turbines. Overlooking the high valley of Auzat, often in the shade, it is a pleasant way perfect for a family walk. Secured, it offers to the walker, according to the direction of the walk, a panoramic view of the Montcalm massif, the Soulcem dam and the Artiès valley or the villages of Auzat, Laoujou, Ranet and in the distance, Orus and Illier without forgetting Olbier and the castle of Montreal de Sos.
You are on your way for 3 km flat with a marking every 100 meters. Arrived at the first houses in dry stone (the place is called “Les Toutous”) you will go down towards Marc then follow the Vicdessos river and return at the beginning of the loop by taking the path of the final of the Montcalm marathon.
This loop is accessible to all and allows you to hike, jog with a splendid view or to do split sessions and maybe even several times in both directions for those looking for a larger volume of training.
The downloadable GPS track: