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Pointe du Sabre, Pic Schrader and Pic de l’Abeillé, Cabane de Prat-Cazeneuve, Loudenvielle

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A magnificent itinerary at 3000m that traverses the ridges between the Hautes-Pyrénées and Aragon from the Pointe du Sabre (3134m) to the Pic de l'Abeillé (3025m), via the Pic Schrader or Grand Batchimale (3177m), the Pointe Ledormeur (3107m), the Punta de l'Ibon Gran Norte (3096m), the Punta del Ibon (3052m) and the Petit Batchimale (3052m). Departing from the Cabane de Prat-Cazeneuve perched in the upper Louron valley, the proposed loop, to be completed in reasonable time, is aimed at experienced hikers comfortable making long progress on exposed, aerial terrain: the route includes numerous sections of climbing, de-escalation or traversing in a maximum level of III+, with some tricky passages to negotiate, in places on unstable terrain, requiring sure footing and good management of the void. And beyond the technical interest of the route, the scenery is spectacular, with a splendid aerial view of the Poset and Maladeta massifs to the south, the peaks around the Pic des Gourgs Blancs to the east, and numerous small turquoise- or silver-blue high-altitude lakes everywhere, depending on the day's lighting.

Technical summary

Data refer to the itinerary from the Cabane de Prat Cazeneuve. Allow 1 or 2 nights at the Cabane. If you include the descent to Pont de Prat at the end of the loop, add 2 hours and 850m of negative ascent.

Departure point: Cabane de Prat-Cazeneuve, Loudenvielle, Haute-Pyrénées (65)
Type of route: high-mountain alpine hike
Distance: 13 km
Cumulative elevation gain: +1100 m
Cumulative negative altitude gain: -1100 m
Estimated total time: 7h30 to 8h30
■ Min and max altitude: m / 3177 m
Marking: none. The trail is marked and cairned as far as Port d'Aygues Tortes. The rest of the route is less visible, but there are a few cairns leading to the ridge below Pointe du Sabre. The ridge route is obvious and so is the return behind the Pic de l'Abeillé. Only the end before reaching the fork is a little paummier, especially if visibility is poor.
Equipment: none
Equipment to bring: useful GPS track, crampons and ice axe depending on the presence of névés on the ascent of the north face, safety rope to secure a partner on the trickiest sections.

Difficulties: numerous, mainly due to altitude and ridge progression. The South-North traverse is very long at over 3000m. On the ridge, the whole route is very aerial, alternating between sections where you can walk without difficulty and passages where you have to use your hands to climb, de-escalate or cross on rocky ridges that are sometimes quite tapered (III+/IV- max). It's exposed on the whole, and on small passages very exposed.

Access to the place

From the A64 at Lamnezan, turn south into the Aure valley. At Arreau, turn off into the Louron valley and drive to Loudenvielle. Go through the village and continue along the road to Pont de Prat, where you'll find the starting parking lot.

Cabane de Prat-Cazeneuve (2050m, 8km, 2h30 to 3h)

After a long, winding ascent through the forest or cutting across a steep path, climb up the deep gorges of the Neste de Clarabide to the refuge de la Soula on an aerial path overlooking the torrent (1h30). From the refuge de la Soula, climb over a rise to find the Neste de Clarabide flowing through a narrow upper valley. Descend until you find yourself under Lac de Pouchergues, and make a final ascent to reach the Cabane de Prat-Cazeneuve.

All the way to the refuge de la Soula, the path is equipped in places (life line, safety railing) and marked with small yellow direction signs and wooden information posts.

Itinerary description


Part 1: Pointe du Sabre (3134m, 3h to 3h30)

Head due west along the grassy path alongside the Neste du Louron. It climbs a little, revealing the valley floor opposite and the ridgeline between Pointe du Sabre and Pic Schrader. Pass over a cemented culvert and head deeper, gradually ascending in stages until you reach the foot of the valley floor, at the start of the loop. Turn left to the south-west and climb a very steep slope and a large scree slope with cairns. After about 40' of effort, you reach the Port d'Aygues Tortes at almost 2700m.

Switch to the other side, descend a little and cross straight to the foot of the small pond, without taking the most visible path which plunges down following the torrent. Cross a wide scree slope and climb slightly to reach a steep ridge. Climb up to the north-west on this airy ridge, using your hands from time to time. A little higher up, don't miss the large cairn indicating the start of a long traverse that cuts under the Pointe du Sabre on its southern side. An easy traverse on rock, with the Poset massif in view.

On the other side of the traverse, a new ridge to climb, this time heading north. It's still aerial, with no difficulty except for climbing the head of the Pointe, staying on the edge of the ridge with a few small steps in III. From the Pointe du Sabre, you can clearly see the route leading north to the Pic Shrader.
Part 2: Pointe du Sabre to Pic Schrader and Pic de l'Abeillé (3177m, 2h30 to 3h)

45' of ridge climbing to Pic Schrader. The route is aerial, a little undulating with a bump to get over, but not difficult, even if you have to balance in places with your hands. From the Schrader, you have to climb down and back a little to find a cairned path on the north-east face, which crosses below the summit on really unstable and exposed terrain. We then return to the main ridge to climb rapidly up to Pointe Ledormeur.

The ridge itinerary is therefore very long, more delicate in the first part with several sections to climb or bypass on exposed terrain. Progress is slow and you need to be very vigilant. It climbs up, then down again, passing the 3000m mark. The second part, leading to Petit Batchimale from Pointe de l'Ibon, is easier.

Descend from Petit Batchimale and follow the ridge a little further up to the final 3000m of the route, Pic de l'Abeillé, where the ridge splits in 2: to the left at 90° towards Port de la Pez, and to the right as you descend on the north-east side towards Pic des Bacherets. On the latter section, there are more tricky and exposed passages to negotiate.
Section 3: Pic de l'Abeillé to Prat Cazeneuve hut (2h)

From the summit, descend on the ridge behind, heading north then northeast. Stay on the edge with a few steps of de-escalation or try to duck down the east-facing slope, but the terrain is unstable and very steep. Further down, follow the flatter, jagged ridge that runs due east towards the Pic des Bacherets. Once you've reached the pass, before climbing back up to the Pic, turn right and head due south down the stony valley to the pretty little high-altitude lake. Don't go all the way down to the lake, but climb up between the lake and the small ponds at the Pic de la Montagnette. Then descend to find the bed of the Neste du Louron, then turn south to descend and cross it to the left bank. Keep close to the torrent as you descend, then move away from it to find a steep, grassy mini-valley that leads to the final basin where you return to the fork in the path. Follow the path along the Neste du Louron back to the Cabane de Prat-Cazeneuve.

Map & topo

In yellow, the approach to the Cabane de Prat-Cazeneuve, in blue the loop from the Cabane.

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