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Vires Rieutord & Guy Pistre, La Coste, Caroux

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The aim of today's itinerary is to discover Mont Caroux via a challenging and original route, off the beaten track. On the program: very steep trails, equipped sections to climb, easy but aerial climbing passages and beautiful ledges to dominate the massif and the Héric gorges. Although the gorges are very busy in summer, you won't meet anyone on this route, apart from 1 or 2 mouflons if you manage to keep a low profile. The hike is physically demanding, however, and requires commitment to negotiate a few exposed passages with the help of your hands (III, 1 or 2 steps of IV).

La vire Guy Pistre pour redescendre du Mont Caroux

Technical summary

Type ✦ Hiking
Location ✦ La Coste, Mons-la-Trivalle
Region ✦ Haut-Languedoc, Hérault
Country ✦ France
Orientation ✦ West, North
Max altitude ✦ 1034m
Distance ✦ 11km
Dénivelé ✦ 1155m
Difficulty ✦ E3 / T5 / R4
Duration ✦ 4h30 to 6h
Interest ✦ ★★

Access to the place

North-west of Bédarieux, on the D908 between Pons-la Thomières and Bédarieux, park either at the official Mons-la-Trivalle parking lot (paying in season) or at the hamlet of La Coste, on the east side of the Héric gorges (free). The second option we chose, however, adds around 15' of approach (and therefore return) to reach the gorges d'Héric.

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 45'

From the village of La Coste, head west following the yellow PR signs. Exit downhill after the last houses, cross the ruisseau de la Combe and go through undergrowth to reach the left bank of the ruisseau d'Héric fairly quickly (10-15'). Cross the Soupirs bridge to find the right-bank gorges road. Climb due north on the cement road. Cross the brook again, then a new bridge to span the Rieu Tort brook, and just before you cross the Héric again, you'll find the start of the Charbonniers trail. Signpost for the Charbonniers ridge. Start of the loop.

Course 3h à 4h

The itinerary follows two switchbacks leading to the summit of Caroux. Both are marked in blue (dots and dashes). The difficulty lies mainly in the steepness of the ascent (quite significant over a short distance) and the exposed passages to be climbed, often with the help of the hands, especially on the Rieutord vire. The sections to be climbed are in III, but there are a few steps in IV. As far as orientation is concerned, the route is obvious once you're on the switchbacks. Wearing a helmet may prove useful, given the proximity of the walls for much of the route.

Part 1: La piste des Charbonniers (45' to 1h)

A climbing step leads to a forest trail. Yellow markings. A steep 10' climb then crosses a scree to enter a small, deep gorge. We cross a dry stream bed to climb a large slab in III rock. We find 2 chains to negotiate the steepest passages and exit higher up into the undergrowth. The route climbs steeply and we pass into the next gorge. A new slab with 2 large chains and a section with a blue knotted rope before finally crossing the Aiguilles trail, marked in red. Cross to the left, following the red markings. Pass a 1st small pass, then a second with a boulder promontory overlooking the gorge valley (left). At this point, spot a right-hand path marked with cairns and small blue dots, the start of the vire Rieutord.
Part 2: La vire Rieutord (45' to 1h)

It starts with a few small jumps to climb, followed by a pretty aerial wall, no III/III+. Higher up, we pass through a narrow couloir that ends in a chimney with an IV pitch using a tree barter. It comes out over a large wall, and continues to climb. We end up on a mini rock ledge to finally reach a gully that climbs steeply and steadily until we reach a breach, still marked with blue dots. Climb to the right of the breach to gradually reach the summit of Roc du Caroux, skirting around to the south and following the blue dots on less steep terrain.
Section 3: La vire Guy Pistre or sentier des Chênes (1h to 1h15')

From the summit, return to the brèche. Here, instead of toppling over to the south-west (from where we came), descend to the north-east to find a large cairn and a descent to the east. A 1st small wall then a second more delicate one (III+/IV) and you reach the Guy Pistre ridge. It's all downhill, with some fairly steep sections, so be careful to follow the sometimes inconspicuous blue dots. In a small north-facing gully, cross over to the left to pass a ridge, this time to the north-west, before descending and gradually returning to the south. Progress is made over a series of aerial passages and, further down, a fairly narrow rocky ledge hanging close to the void. Further down, we join the red Aiguilles trail.
Section 4: Col de la Narquoise and Hirondelles piste (45')

Take the red trail to the right. It crosses more or less level, mostly in the undergrowth. There are 1 or 2 passages where you need to use your hands, but these are not difficult. You soon reach the Col de la Narquoise (15'), which is fairly open, with a large cairn in the middle. From here, descend due south, following the blue dots on the Hirondelles trail. The descent is steep and thigh-busting. At the very bottom, you find the route des Gorges. End of the loop.


Go back down the route des Gorges, cross the Pont des Soupirs and take the PR back to the village of La Coste.

Map & topo

Voir en plein écran



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