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Spijeoles peak and Gourdon ridge, Oô valley

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The loop proposed from the Lac du Portillon is superb: aerial miner's path, ascent of the Pic des Spijeoles, alpine ridge of the Gourdon, Col des Gourgs Blancs and Pluviomètre before finishing at the Tusse du Montarqué. The itinerary is extremely varied, and constantly offers exceptional high-mountain panoramas. The lakes, chiselled ridges and névés still present at this altitude give the route a special character. A wonderful option that completes the Boucle du Pic du Perdiguère via the crête de Litérole. Other courses in the area include Pic des Gourgs Blancs and Pic du Seil de la Baque, which border on Spain.

Final de la crête du Gourdon

Technical summary

Type ✦ Alpine hiking
Location ✦ Lac du Portillon, Oô valley
Region ✦ Haute-Garonne
Country ✦ France
Max altitude ✦ 3065m
Ascent length ✦ 9km
Dénivelé ✦ 1010m
Difficulty ✦ E4 / T5 / R4
Duration ✦ 5h to 6h
Interest ✦ ★★★

Access to the place

The route starts from the Portillon hut (2570m), located in the extreme south of the Haute-Garonne, in the upper part of the Neste d'Oô valley. To get there, it's a 4-5 hour climb from the Granges d'Astau (1140m). For full details of the access route, see the Lac du Portillon hike post.

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 30'

From the Portillon refuge, take the downhill path to Espingo. Cross the slabs until you come to the small rocky corridor that marks the start of the descent to Coume de l'Abesque. Look for 2 rusty iron posts on the left, facing west. From here, head due west, climbing slightly and passing an area of scree marked by cairns. You start to see the slightly grassy hanging shoulder where the miners' path will pass. The path on the ground is a little more marked. Start of the miners' trail.

Course 4h à 5h

The route includes many aerial passages, some of them exposed. The miners' trail is equipped on 2 more exposed sections, but with old, rusty equipment that doesn't really inspire confidence. That said, there are no real difficulties other than the nearby void. Access to the Spijeoles peak is via a small chimney with an IV pitch and a final ramp in the III. Finally, the Gourdon ridge, rated PD inf, has a few exposed sections where you have to climb in the III+/IV- range.

Part 1: The miners' trail (2650m, 30' to 45')

Follow the small cairn-marked path that crosses a talweg, approaches the shoulder and then climbs it on a steep, airy section. We pass the shoulder and switch to the west. A suspended path awaits us. You can see the west face of the Pic des Spijeoles. The traverse is a balcony, with the Oô valley below us. There are 2 sections equipped with a lifeline to cross, more exposed on a narrower rocky path but without any real difficulty. We end up on the base of the west wall of the Tusse de Montarqué, at the level of small névés, to finally emerge on a flat area beneath the icy lake. End of the miners' trail.
Part 2: Pic des Spijeoles (3065m, 1h to 1h15)

Keep following the cairns as you ascend in stages towards Les Spijeoles. The extraordinary frozen lake with its unreal blue waters comes into view. The trail then passes over the lake to go under the south face of the Pic des Spijeoles pyramid. The path then climbs steeper and steeper, between boulders and scree, ending in a small chimney that gives access to the upper buttresses made of red stone (no IV to get out). Then tackle a steep scree slope in short laces to reach the small plateau below the summit. Here, a natural access ramp on the south-east side leads without too much difficulty but with the help of your hands (III) to the summit of the Spijeoles peak.
Part 3: The Gourdon ridge (3034m, 1h to 1h30)

Descend from the summit to the level of the pas de la cheminée. Here, stay above and traverse a little to the right (west) to find a few cairns indicating a passage over some sort of white rocky terraces. It's easy to find a path to the bottom of the gap between the Gourdon ridge and the Pic des Spijeoles south ridge.

Once in the narrow breach, climb (III+) over red rock to reach the rather tapering ridge at this point, which starts the ridge path. The start of the ridge is quite impressive, as it is aerial. We progress with the help of our hands, staying on the edge of the ridge. Then the ridge widens a little, and you can progress alternately on the ridge and on the west or east side. Along the way, you'll find a few small sections to climb, some of them exposed, but no higher than III+. After a central saddle, the ridge gradually rises. You can duck to the east before reaching the tête du Gourdon, which this time requires some very airy steps (III+/IV-).
Part 4: Tusse de Montarqué (2889m, 1h30 to 2h)

Descend from the Pic du Gourdon on its South face. Follow the South ridge, then descalp a series of large slabs before ending up on a stony path that quickly leads to the Col des Gourgs Blancs. From here, cross to the south-east on level ground (path and cairns), then descend into the scree. It's easy to read the path to climb back up to the col du pluviomètre, above a long névé and a small frozen lake.

Climb back up, passing over the frozen lake and ending up in the névé to reach the col du Pluviomètre and, higher up, the actual pluviometer installation. The view plunges down to the frozen lake, facing Spijeoles and the Gourdon ridge we've just climbed.

Descend along the path to reach a pass at 2861 between Tusse de Montarqué and Puviomètre. All that remains is to attack the south-west flank, climbing in II+ to reach the broad dome of Tusse, an exceptional vantage point from which to admire all the 3000m of the area.


From the summit of Tusse de Montarqué, follow the marked path due north to find a small pass and then descend due east on a steep path towards the refuge. There are a few steep sections, but the path is well marked and cairned. We arrive on large rounded slabs overlooking the lake and the Portillon refuge.

Map & topo

The routes shown on the topo images are indicative only, and some passages are not visible on the photo because they are on the opposite slope or hidden by rock. Photo no.1 was taken from the Tusse de Montarqué. Photo no. 2 of the sentier des mineurs was taken from the refuge de l'Espingo.

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Une avalanche de près de 100 photos !


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