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Pic de Tarbésou, Ascou-Pailhères

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Exceptional conditions to enjoy the slopes of the Pic de Tarbésou and panoramic views of the Ariège Pyrenees. Departing from the Ascou-Pailhères resort in the upper Ariège, the ascent via the northern ridges is gentle and gradual to reach the summit overlooking the Dent d'Orlu and the Étangs de Rabassoles. There are several downhill options on the east and northeast sides, with fine slopes, to aim for the Coumeille de l'Ours and continue a little lower before possibly climbing a second time to take advantage of this superb playground. A local classic, it's a crowded affair, but it's easy to see why: the hike is accessible and the scenery beautiful.

Le Pic de Tarbésou en ligne de mire

Technical summary


Ski touring. 650m ascent for 4 kilometers (1100m d+ if second ascent). Maximum altitude of 2364m at the summit of Pic de Tarbésou.

Geographical situation

Departure above Ascou-Pailhères resort, above Ax-les-Thermes in Haute Ariège (09).

Technical difficulties

Ascent Easy, except for the slightly steeper final section which may require knives or crampons depending on conditions. Ski descent 1.1 E1.


We climb and ski more on the east side. It's easy to follow the ridges.

Field and environnement

The pass and ridges leading to Tarbésou can be very windy. The final section to the summit is often icy or very hard.

Gear and equipments

Knives in bag if final frozen.

General review

Accessible hiking and skiing in a splendid setting. Busy race but plenty of skiing options.

Access to the place

From the N20 from Foix to Andorra, in Ax-les-Thermes, go up towards Ascou-Pailhères. Pass the village of Ascou, then Goulours, and climb gradually up to the ski resort. Go past it and you'll find the parking lot just before the barrier that closes the road in winter.

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start

From the parking lot, climb up the gently sloping blue trail and halfway up, wind up to the left of a chairlift to reach the upper plateau more quickly (otherwise follow the blue trail and return south).


The route is obvious. Climb up the plateau to the foot of Pic de Mounégou, then continue over a shoulder to the main ridge, with Tarbésou already in sight. The ridge climbs steadily upwards in successive levels, generally gently and without difficulty. A final plateau leads to the final section for the summit. The west-facing slope is often hard or icy in the morning, so it's best to take a route on the east-facing slope, which is more exposed to the morning sun. The final section is a little steeper, but the summit is reached fairly quickly. Exceptional panoramic view.

The best skiing options are on the east or northeast slopes. The start of the summit is steeper (35°) but the rest is gentler (25/30° max). You can aim for the Col de la Coumeille de l'Ours or a little to the left to find some nice slopes and continue further down. From the bottom, cut northwards and put the skins back on for 50 to 100m of ascent to return to the plateau and glide to the top of the resort's pistes. Depending on snow conditions, you can either take the blue run or the shortcut slope back to the blue run further down to the parking lot.

Map & topo

Downhill ski routes and return itinerary are indicative. Voir en plein écran



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