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Pla de Montcamp, Gestiès

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The long ascent of the Lène ridge to the Pla de Montcamp is one of the great classics of snowshoeing in Ariège. And rightly so, as the panorama is spectacular. The loop starts from the hameua de Gestiès on the GR10 before gradually ascending the long, rounded spine that leads to the promontory at just over 1900m, above the Col du Sasc. The return via the valley of the Boulimborde brook on the west side, with no real path, is a tricky option where you have to improvise to reach the return track. A return loop via the Rocher de Miglos and the Lhesse ridge to the east is another, longer but perhaps less tricky option.

Sur la longue crête qui mène au Pla de Montcamp

Technical summary

Itinerary

Snowshoe hike. 950m ascent, 11.4 kilometers distance. Maximum altitude 1905m at the summit of Pla de Montcamp.

Geographical situation

Departure from the hamlet of Gestiès, in the Vicdessos valley, Ariège (09).

Technical difficulties

The ascent includes short steep sections, but without exceeding 30°. It's the descent into the Boulimborde valley that's the trickiest, as it's off-piste and quite steep, especially if there's a lot of snow (as there was on January 20).

Orientation

Often south-facing, then west-facing. Follow the GR10 to the summit of Pla de Montcamp and then to the Col du Sasc. The rest of the route is off-trail to the return track.

Field and environnement

Forest on the way up, then an open ridge exposed to the wind.

General review

A classic local snowshoe hike, often frequented, offering spectacular panoramic views of the Pyrenees.

Access to the place

On the N20 at Tarascon-sur-Ariège, turn off towards Vicdessos and then, after Capoulet and Junac, turn left towards Siguer. At the entrance to the village, take the left-hand switchbacks up to the hamlet of Gestiès. Parking is available at the entrance on the right, before the church.

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 5'

Go up from the parking lot to the small square above the town hall. The path climbs here, straight up between the walls of the houses. The Col de Gamel is signposted as the GR10.

Course 3h à 4h

Part 1: Col de Gamel, 1390m (1h)

The trail quickly leaves the village at the top. It climbs steeply and steadily through the forest. Just before leaving the woods, the trail makes a long, false-flat crossing. We finally leave at 1350m to reach the wide Col de Gamel just above at 1390m.
Part 2: Pla de Montcamp, 1902m (1h to 1h30)

Progress will depend on snow conditions. From the col, head due south and climb back up into the forest. You start to get a clearer view to the west. Continue on the sloping western flank, then return to the ridge, cross a final forested area and finally emerge onto completely open ground. You're now on a wide ridge that forms a very long, rounded, undulating dome. Climb back up, staying on the ridge, right in the middle. There are several big bumps to get over, this time with panoramic views to the west and east over Sinsat and the Ax valley. In the final section, descend to the Col de la Lène to tackle the finale on a long ramp that climbs steadily to the summit. Up here it's almost flat, like the name of the summit. Walk on for 150 or 200m to find the summit post. You're facing the Pyrenees, with a 360° view.
Part 3: Col de Sasc and the Boulimborde stream valley (1h to 1h30)

Here too, the duration depends entirely on snow conditions, as we're off-trail until we reach the track at the very bottom. From the summit, descend gently to the south to reach the Col de Sasc and its pastoral hut, which we leave to our left. From the col, plunge westwards, more or less following the bed of the Boulimborde torrent, which you can only guess at in the snow. Stay on the right bank. The descent is quite steep in places. Gradually, you lose altitude and pass to the right of the forest (it's difficult to go straight through). We improvise the best route to land on the runway at 1270m altitude.

Back

Follow this wide track, which gradually descends, following the contours of the mountain, to return to the bottom of the village of Gestiès. At the level of a square electricity tower, climb the path directly back to the starting parking lot.

Map & topo

The route from the Col de Sasc to the track is indicative, drawn after the event. Voir en plein écran

Photos

Sortie du 20 janvier 2023





Sortie du 17 février 2019


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