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Port de Médécourbe, Étang de Soulcem, Auzat

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We set out to summit the Pic de Médécourbe and then follow the ridges to the Port d'Arinsal via the Pic de Racofred and the Pic des Bareytes, but the uncertain weather at the start forced us to turn back at the Port de Médécourbe, at almost 2800m altitude, in the face of cold, fog and ice on the rock. Winter atmosphere and zero visibility. It's a long round trip, but with some great views on the way up to the Médécourbe pond and occasional glimpses of the north face between 2 clouds. The planned loop is therefore still on the list of races in Ariège, to be attempted when conditions are more favorable, perhaps not before next summer.

Vallée du ruisseau de Soulcem, sous l’étang de Médécourbe

Technical summary

Type ✦ Hiking
Location ✦ Étang de Soulcem, Auzat
Region ✦ Ariège
Country ✦ France
Direction ✦ Nord
Max altitude ✦ 2750m
Distance ✦ 15km
Dénivelé ✦ 1100m
Difficulty ✦ E3 / T3 / R2
Duration ✦ 5h to 6h
Interest ✦ ★

Access to the place

Go to Vicdessos then Auzat and continue due south along the Vicdessos stream up to the Soulcem pond at 1600m. Park at the end of the road, on the south bank of the pond.

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 1h

From the parking lot, head south on the track and at the first hairpin bend, continue straight ahead on the path. Cross the footbridge and climb further to the right of a small waterfall to reach the very long jasse where the silvery meandering Soulcem stream flows peacefully. Cross the entire jasse, staying on the left bank of the stream on the GR (over 2kms!). At the far end, after leaving the GR on the left, opposite the cirque, you'll find the path that climbs to the right towards the Médécourbe pond.

Course 2h à 2h30

Part 1: Médécourbe pond (2210m, 45' to 1h)

Climb the grassy slopes on a small yellow-marked path. A steep section leads to a small basin, which we cross. The path climbs upwards, keeping a generally southerly direction, until it comes to an upper valley. Follow it and, climbing a little further, you come to the Médécourbe pond, in front of a large scree.
Part 2: Port de Médécourbe (2750m, 1h15 to 1h30)

From this point onwards, there are no more markers, the trail is inconspicuous or even absent, but there are irregular cairns. Walk along the pond on the left bank (west), slightly uphill. Once on its south bank, climb a large scree along a sloping waterfall. Above the waterfall, keep heading south, then ascend at a slight angle to the west to climb a narrower, very steep couloir, either through the scree or in the gipset on the right. This leads to another small bowl with a firn. Continue straight on and climb towards the Port de Médécourbe, for a steep finish in a narrow couloir where you need to put your hands down. This is where we turn back, given the weather conditions.


In today's situation, we have to retrace the entire path in the opposite direction. The scree terrain up to the pond doesn't allow you to descend as quickly as you would on a footpath. Then it's back to the level of the flat jasse, where again the time is the same as on the way up. A quick finish to the parking lot.

Map & topo

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