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Cabane de Sénard, Aston valley

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A beautiful loop on the western slopes of the Aston valley. After a steep ascent to La Fruitière, you reach the ridge below, which leads to the Cabane de la Jasse de Sénard overlooking the narrow valley of the Guixel stream. The valley floor closes in on the Col d'Eychade and the Calamettes ridge. Today's conditions made progress difficult above 1500m, with deep, wet snow in places. Also of note was the difficult orientation due to inconspicuous or even absent signposting in the central part of the route, which was even trickier in snow. On the other hand, the sandy rain of the Sahara had passed the day before, creating a spectacular light and atmosphere under a lunar sky.

Sur la crête de sable et de neige

Technical summary

Type ✦ Snowshoe hiking
Location ✦ Pont de Galis, Aston valley
Region ✦ Haute-Ariège
Country ✦ France
Orientation ✦ North and West
Max altitude ✦ 1912m
Length of ascent ✦ 6.2km
Vertical drop ✦ 660m
Difficulty ✦ MD
Max. gradient ✦ 30
Duration ✦ 4h to 5h
Interest ✦ ★★

Access to the place

On the N20 between Tarascon and Ax-les-Thermes, enter the village of Les Cabannes. From here, take the small road heading due south into the Aston valley. Pass Château Verdun, Aston then continue towards the Riete and Laparan dams and the Rhule refuge indicated. It's quite long. Pass along the Riete pond and, before reaching Laparan, park just before the Galis bridge. The start is in the last bend before the bridge.

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 30' à 45'

In the last bend before the Galis bridge, climb up on a very inconspicuous mini-trail on the right bank of the Guixel stream (so on the left as you go up). You'll soon find a signpost on a tree: a large orange dot with a small black dot in the middle. Follow it through the undergrowth to find the start of the ascent: the path leads up a sort of rock ramp. From here, it's a steady climb through the forest, with a number of fairly visible switchbacks and the occasional orange and black marker. After 30' to 45', the path skirts a fence. At this point, the trail forks left towards La Fruitière.

Course 2h30 à 3h30

The route forms a loop that can also be done in the opposite direction. The approach and return are marked with orange and black dots in the shape of targets, but these are only visible from a distance on the ascent. The rest of the route is unmarked, on paths that are not very well marked in places. However, orientation remains logical and straightforward, and it's easy to find your way by sight.

Part 1: La Fruitière (1570m, 20')

Go left and climb gently on a wide path along the fence. You soon emerge from the forest and can see the summits to the east. Climb a little steeper to the south to reach a jasse where the ruins of La Fruitière can be found.
Part 2: Sénard hut (1840m, 45' to 1h)

From the ruins, try to follow an unmarked mini-trail that runs roughly southwards, staying more to the right and under a small mountain overlooking the jasse. As you go along, you can make out the route to a pass. Climb along the streams and turn west to reach the ridge. Then head back south and climb on a false flat on the rounded ridge towards the Cabane, which can be seen fairly quickly. View over the valley of the Guixel stream, with the Col d'Aychade in the background.
Part 3: Ruisseau de Guixel valley (1h to 1h30)

From the hut, continue to climb gently southwards over a hump to reach the descent to the valley floor. Cross over before looking for a not-too-steep passage down the slopes. Once at the bottom, follow the stream on the right bank. It's quite flat at first, but then you enter the forest again to find the orange and black markings (looking uphill) and the fence to the fork.

Back

From the fork, take the forest approach path to the Galis bridge and parking lot. No difficulty, but the orange and black markings visible on the way up are not visible on the way down. The path is not very well used, so you need to be careful to stay on the main path.

Map & topo

Voir en plein écran

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