TOPO Hiking

Pic de Cabaillère via Mirabail pond, Pla des Peyres, Aston valley

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Dans l’ascension vers le Pic de Cabaillère au-dessus de l’étang de Mirabail.

Another hike to explore the magnificent Aston valley. Starting from Pla des Peyres, the Coume de Varilhes passes under the Pic de la Coume d'Enfer, and a path leads up to the Mirabail pond. Continuing on, you climb to the Pic de Cabaillère for an impressive panorama of the Andorran border peaks and much of the Ariege Pyrenees. The rest of the route is superb too, with several hanging ponds and superb views of the nearby Rulhe massif. If the loop can be extended by aiming for the Pic du Mirabail and the ridges up to the Pic de Cabaillère, this accessible itinerary is well worth the detour, with no great difficulty and a beautiful high-mountain backdrop.

Technical summary

Departure point: Pla des Peyres parking lot, Aston valley, Ariège (09).
Type of route: high-mountain loop hike
Distance: 9.5 km
Cumulative elevation gain: +840 m
Cumulative negative altitude gain: -840 m
Estimated total time: 6h to 7h30
■ Min and max altitude: 1700m / 2555 m
■ S igns: yellow PR and visible, cairned trails
Equipment in place: none
Equipment required: none

Difficulty: a few steep sections up and down, including the final descent to the parking lot.

Ressources

Topo of the same loop in the opposite direction on rando-marche.fr

Access to the place

From Les Cabanes, on the N20 between Foix and Ax-les-Thermes, take the small road heading south into the Aston valley. It's almost 22 kms to the final parking lot at Pla des Peyres (1700m), passing the Etang de Riete and then the Etang de Laparan.

Map & topo

The return route from the fork under the Cabaillère pond to the parking lot (last part) is indicative, as it follows a path not marked on the map. Voir en plein écran

Itinerary description

Course

Part 1: Coume de Varilhes to Mirabail pond (2270m, 1h30 to 2h)

From the parking lot, take the footbridge and follow the path along the torrent to the south. After crossing an area of large boulders, the path gradually enters the Coume de Varilhes and rises, bending to the west. You soon leave the signposted path, which leads off to the left towards the Fontargente ponds, and continue into the Coume. You soon discover the cirque that marks the valley floor, below the Pic de Ransol and the Pic de Mil Menut. Without descending completely into the basin, follow the path as it makes a sharp turn up the slopes to the north-east. It climbs quite steeply, leading to a small upper valley overlooking the Coume de Varilhes. Keep going for a while to discover the Mirabail pond and, further up, the back of the Pic de Cabaillère.
Part 2: Pic de Cabaillère, étang noir de Cabaillère and return to Pla des Peyres (2555m, 2h15 to 3h)

Follow the summit ridge and plunge northwards to reach a wide pass, then continue eastwards down a valley to reach the level of the Etang Noir de Cabaillère. Follow the path along the east bank before turning almost 180° to the left. Here, the path descends steeply, crossing a scree to come to an enormous, characteristic sloping rock with a small Orri at its foot, very close to the Etang de Cabaillère (which can be seen by climbing slightly above the rock).

At this point, the path turns south into a grassy valley. Further down, on a small flat spot, you'll find the left-hand fork to the east, which leads straight down to the parking lot. There's a small cairn and the trail is clearly visible. A steep, winding descent then begins, landing opposite the parking lot, which you reach via the footbridge.

If you prefer, you can avoid this option by following the path which continues to the south to return to the Coume de Varilhes before going the other way to the parking lot (longer but quieter).

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