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France in October, Alps and Pyrenees, Huts

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France in October, Alps and Pyrenees, Huts

Postby Rick B » Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:30 am

Next week I'll be heading to France for a belated summer holiday. If the weather permits, we want to try to get some nice autumn colors in the french alps or the Pyrenees. I don't have much experience with hiking this time of the year, so perhaps some people here can help me answer some of the following questions:

- Are the winter rooms in the huts open?
- If so, what is provided in the winter rooms (matress, blankets?) and what is the procedure? Do I need to get a key, where and how do I need to pay?
- Does anybody know about the current conditions? Is there already a lot of snow (compared to other years)? What is a good place on the web to find out about local conditions?
- Recommendations for where to go? This can be very general in terms of altitudes, areas, or very specific hikes that are great in autumn in the french alps or pyrenees ..

Any further general tips for a good autumn holiday from experienced people are always welcome. Many thanks in advance!
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Re: France in October, Alps and Pyrenees, Huts

Postby Rick B » Mon Oct 08, 2012 1:18 pm

Nobody?
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Re: France in October, Alps and Pyrenees, Huts

Postby rgg » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:18 pm

I left Chamonix on the 12th of September, and conditions in the mountains were far from ideal at that time. Many lifts and many refuges were already closed for the season, some planned, some early because of the poor conditions.

On the 10th, we were at the Office de Haute Montagne in Chamonix. First we asked for the latest weather forecast, and learned that a front was expected to arrive the next day, somewhere in the afternoon. With that, our original plan went out the window. Instead, we climbed the Aiguille de Belvedere and were back in the valley on the 11th before the rain started, early in the evening. By next morning it was still going strong. With such a prolonged dump of fresh snow high on the mountains we knew it wouldn't be easy going, even after the front would have passed, and the avalanche danger would probably be something to consider as well. So, basically, that bout of bad weather meant the end of the regular summer season. Of course, after a few days of good weather the snow would settle again, but I had to go back home by the 16th anyway.

As for going to the Alps outside the season, normally the winter rooms are open, but when you know which refuge (or bivouac) you plan to visit, it's always prudent to ask to make sure. For the Chamonix area, contact the Office de Haute Montagne.

Back in 2008, I was wondering myself about where to go in this period. I decided that the Alps in October wasn't my cup of tea, settled on the Canary islands instead and had a great time there! I hiked El Bastón on La Palma, and went up to Pico del Teide after that. If you plan on doing that, make sure that you have a reservation for the Refugio Altavista high on its slopes. When you sleep there, you can get to the summit by sunrise, which is a great experience. Besides, those that spend the night at the refuge don't need a separate permit (see the Red Tape section in the page on Pico del Teide).
If you're looking for a bit of rock climbing, there are some excellent climbing possibilities around. Check out the area pages for the Canaries on SP, they are pretty good.

Image
El Bastón

Image
Teide, here I come!

By the way, I saw the question earlier, but didn't reply as I expected there would be others that could give a more detailed answer than I can.

Good luck,
Rob
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Re: France in October, Alps and Pyrenees, Huts

Postby Rick B » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:46 pm

Thanks Rob! It sounds like this year autumn arrived early, so that's good to know. Well we don't necessarily wanted to go very high, so hopefully there is still enough to do on the lower altitudes, or maybe in the Pyrenees.

It's already definite that we will go to France (by car), so the Canaries are out. But it certainly looks nice and something to keep in mind for next year.
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