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The Assaladou via the Ijou pass

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At the bottom of the Ax-les-Thermes valley, from the small village of Ascou, this route quickly rises to offer spectacular, aerial views of the Pyrenean peaks of the Haute-Ariège. Winter conditions were ideal, with bright sunshine, fresh snow from the previous day and a sumptuous sky. After the Col d'Ijou and a short section on the Chioula estate, we reached the flat area that serves as the summit of the Assaladou, where 2 huge pylons also stand. We then loop around to the west, this time with views of the Montagne de Tabe massif, before plunging down to Ignaux and returning to Ascou. A beautiful tour, which, in these snowy conditions, requires a long and fairly sustained effort.

Sur le sommet de l’Assaladou, face aux Pyrénées

Technical summary

Type ✦ Snowshoe hiking
Location ✦ Ascou, Ignaux
Region ✦ Ariège
Country ✦ France
Orientation ✦ South and West
Max altitude ✦ 1649m
Distance ✦ 12.8km
Vertical drop ✦ 710m
Duration ✦ 4h to 5h
Interest ✦ ★★

Access to the place

From Ax-les-Thermes, climb up to Col du Chioula and just below Sorgeat, turn right towards Ascou-Pailhères. The road passes under the village of Ascou. Park at the bottom of the village, in the large parking lot just past the communal rubbish area.

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 45' à 1h

Go up to Ascou village from the bottom and follow the GR signs. Pass in front of the church, then follow the road up to the top of the village, exit and climb into the forest. Leave the GR to the left towards Sorgeat (return path) and continue along the road. Pass a wide bend at the top, go alongside a large farm and at the intersection just after, turn left to the north.

To shorten the route, go straight up the slope at the 1st bend. Improvising a generally northerly route, then veering northeast to catch up with the valley road and the GR 107 route. Once on the (normally snow-covered!) track, walk a little to the east to find the GR trailhead just beyond, which climbs to the left. Departure for Col d'Ijou.

Course 2h à 3h

Part 1: Col d'Ijou (1649m, 1h to 1h30)

The trail is marked GR and winds upwards with a few short, steeper sections. Higher up, we cross a wide, treeless, gently sloping area where it's difficult to find the trail under the snow. However, you can take as a guide the parque of the path that crosses to the west just above. Climb up to finally bypass the small massif and enter the forest. The end gradually climbs due north to reach a clearing. Cross the clearing to reach the Col d'Ijou. At this point, you come across a wide track that circles the Roc d'Ignaux. In winter, there's a cross-country ski trail set up by the Chioula ski resort.
Part 2: L'Assaladou (1585m, 20' to 30')

Descend the track to the west, and at the bottom, in the large bend, cut straight across the plateau to aim for the 2 large electricity pylons. At this point, you're on the flat summit of Assaladou. A little further south, the view is spectacular and panoramic over the Pyrenees, from Mont Valier to Tarbesou.
Part 3: the ridges (45' to 1h)

Continue due west to find the yellow PR markings just below. This will take you gently down to the edge of the forest, then through a wide area of broom. Then the low PR trail switches to the northern slope, passing between trees before turning to start the long descent to the road. Follow a large curve that descends one level before heading north again and ending up in fairly steep switchbacks until you reach the Col du Chioula road. End of the ridge.

Back

Walk 50m downhill on the road to find the yellow PR path descending to the right. Follow the path as it heads south. You pass a pretty natural balcony overlooking the valley, then descend to reach the 1st houses in Ignaux. Continue to follow the PR as it weaves its way between properties, ending up in the old village by the school. Cross Ignaux and take the road to Sorgeat. Enter Sorgeat and head east through the village. On leaving the village, at the end of a long street, continue on the track, which is once again the GR-107. There's another 20' of track, then a footpath, to return almost to the starting point, above the village of Ascou.

Map & topo

Voir en plein écran

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