TOPO Hiking

Les crêtes du Pibeste, Viger

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Just above Lourdes, at the entrance to the valley leading to Gavarnie, les crêtes du Pibeste offers a fairly short but athletic and aerial itinerary, with the added bonus of a spectacular panorama of the Hautes Pyrénées, its snow-covered 3000s and a ballet of vultures circling and turning to the south. With numerous rock-climbing passages, some of them quite exposed, this hike is aimed at those who love heights and have the feet and hands to take on the challenge without getting scared. The return via the opposite Mail d'Arréou ridge is in the same vein, with an impressive descent down the south face to rejoin the classic loop.

Technical summary

Type ✦ Alpine hiking

Location ✦ Viger, Lourdes

Region ✦ Hautes Pyrénées

Country ✦ France

Length ✦ 9kms

Elevation gain ✦ 850m

Difficulty ✦ D / IV-

Max altitude ✦ 1349m

Duration ✦ 4h30 to 5h

Interest ✦ ★★

Access to the place

From Lourdes, take the road to Argelès-Gazost on the D821. Soon after, turn right for Aspin-en Lavedan. Drive up to the village of Viger and park in the church square.

Map & topo

The routes on the ridges are indicative, especially on the Mail d'Arréou ridge!

Voir en plein écran

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 20' à 30'

Climb through the village to continue on a yellow-marked path to the Pic d'Alian and the Pibeste balcony circuit. It climbs through the woods and then skirts fields. Leave the track on the right and climb along the fences until you reach the Col du Clot d'Alhon (741m) on the left. Superb first view of the Pyrenees. Start the itinerary towards the Pic d'Alian and the Pibeste crests.

Course 3h à 4h

The route, which forms a loop, is partly marked in yellow, except on the ridges between Pic d'Alian and Pic du Pibeste, and on the variant via the Mail d'Arréou ridges. Good conditions are required: dry weather, no snow, good visibility. The route remains aerial, and there are a number of easy but exposed climbs.

The variant via Mail d'Arréou can be avoided by descending through the grassy combe in the center of the valley. The descent of the crêtes d'Arréou would require finding a less tricky passage than the one we improvised (north face?).

Part 1: Les crêtes du Pibeste via le pic d'Alian (1h30 to 1h45)

From the clot d'Alhon, climb straight up the grassy slope, either following the route or winding up to stay on the ridge and enjoy an almost permanent view of the Pyrenees.

At the 1st level, continue up the grassy slope to the right of a long vertical rocky ridge. The trail passes through forest before emerging on the ridge below the Pic d'Alian 30′ or so above.

The ridge becomes narrower and then descends steeply to reach the Alian breach. To get out of here, climb the sloping slabs without too much trouble (III). Continuing upwards, you pass a second plateau and then climb steeply up a grassy couloir to the right of a wall.

This passage is aerial and the end exposed. Exit at the top with a few steps over half-grass, half-rock terrain. We're now on the ridge, on an upper level. It's downhill once more and then level out again towards the "castle" we can now see, in reality the remains of an old abandoned cable car...

Alternating flats and a few climbing sections, including a slightly harder step (IV-). Steep final stretch to reach the Pic du Pibeste and the antenna at 1349m.

Spectacular panorama to the south: Pic du Midi de Bigorre, Montaigu, Hautacam plateau, Viscos, Vignemale, Baïlatous and, in the background, the Gavarnie cirque and Tour de Marboré!
Part 2: Transition via Col d'Ustou (20′)

Exit the peak from the east, following the yellow markings until you find the path on the north side, which winds steeply down to the Col d'Ustou.
Part 3: Crêtes du Mail d'Arréou (30′ to 40′)

From here, either descend the steep but not exposed grassy valley, or continue with today's theme: ridges.

Head straight for the rocky tongue and climb (III) to finally walk on the narrow summit ridge. There's a lot of open space on the north side, and some passages are quite impressive. Continue on the ridge as long as possible before descending ever more steeply.

The exit to join the return path has been improvised on the south side, but it's tricky and exposed. Nothing too difficult, but another gentler route may be possible, either by continuing along the ridge or via the north face.

Once at the bottom, we find the path coming from the top of the valley.

Back

Descend into the valley and cross the stream to take the path back under the clot d'Alhon. There remains the approach path in the opposite direction to the parking lot at Viger.

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