Pic de Pibeste summit builds the eastern end of an east - west running ridge between the valley of Gave de Pau / Argelès-Gazost in the south and the foothills of the Pyrenées east of the town of Lourdes. It belongs to the Lavedan region between Lourdes and Argelès-Gazost.
The ridge is called “Massiv de Pibeste” and Pic de Pibeste is one of the lowest summits relating to its height but one of the most frequented, related to its popularity.
The mountain has steep slopes in every direction, showing rock faces between dense woods and alpine meadows. A group of vultures is currently nesting in those limestone walls.
Atop there is a huge transmitter and a strange building - an old cableway station - with several levels, terrasses and with a room, which is in a more than deplorable and dirty condition, for (emergency) overnight stays.
I hope you never will need it !
The summit terrasse offers great views to the main Pyrénée ranges in the south and down the lowlands around Tarbes, Pau and Lourdes. You will have a good rest there as long as the exhauster fan of the transmitter is not working. If this nasty piece of technology is getting too loud for you, (if it works you will hear it already about 200 m below the summit) go east for some 100 meters on the nearly level ridge crest until you leave the woods and arrive at a forest free section of the ridge. There are nice little meadow patches between the rocks, no fans working and a view which is nearly as excellent as the summit view.
Pic de Pibeste is part of a nature reserve, the “Reserve Naturelle Massiv de Pibeste”, which was installed 1989 by the surrounding villages to protect a very rare fauna and flora, depending on a small scale mediterranean type of climat on the south slopes.
Pic de Pibeste is the first summit I ever climbed in the Pyrenées and for that I like that mountain. It was a nice hike. We didn´t need the car as we were lodging near the trailhead at Agos-Vidalos. The morning clouds disappeared during the day, making room for some vultures soaring smoothly in the thermal lifts of a warm afternoon.
There are two main trailheads for Pic de Pibeste:
For both trailheads follow the road N 21 from the highway A 64, exit Tarbes, to Lourdes.
From Lourdes follow the D 821 in the direction of Argelès - Gazost / Cauterets / Cirque de Gavarnie, until you reach the exit Agos-Vidalos. Follow the D 921 b after the rotary to Agos-Vidalos.
For the trailhead Vidalos leave the D 921 b in the village of Agos-Vidalos, following the signposts to the “souffleur de verre” (glassblower). This road branches off to the right.
After the glassblowers shop try to park your car (not so easy).
For the trailhead Ouzous follow the D 921 b. After Vidalos the Rue de Pibeste branches off to the right (signposts Ouzous). Follow this road to the village of Ouzous (2 km) and to the parking area.
Pic de Pibeste and its southern slopes are part of the Reserve Naturelle Massiv de Pibeste. There are many rules to respect as you can see on the image.
Vultures are nesting in the southern rock faces of the mountain. On the southern slopes there are many mediterranean plants which are unique in this region. Due to the warm and sunny microclimate those plants survived on those slopes.
There are no fees for entering the protected sites.
The natural reserve was initiated by the surrounding communities. Please respect their rules and stay on the trails.
Main Routes Overview
The below described routes can be combined to a nice whole days hike.
Trail from Vidalos
100 m after the glassblower shop a road branches off to the right and ascends shortly up the lowest slopes of the mountain. After about 400 m the now unpaved road turns right, there is a first signpost “Pibeste” to the right (the left trail goes to Ouzous, see “trailhead connecting route” below).
The road passes by an old limestone quarry. After that, take the left road at a road junction (again signposts for “Pibeste”) and then, soon after that junction, the left trail at another junction.
After passing by a meadow at the right side the trail starts now to ascend more steeply the wooden slopes of Pibeste massif. It is in parts an information trail with interesting information panels about the natural reserve and the plants, animals and former agricultural activities in that area. After a stone cabin (Lascary) pay attention: the information trail goes straight on, the Pibeste trail branches off to the right.
The trail continues to ascend the woods until it reaches an old and impressive beech tree. There the trail enters a meadow below the summit area. The trail ascends the meadows and arrives at the summit woods. At the edge of the wood there is a signpost “Pibeste” to the right. This is a direct trail to the old cableway station and to the summit. The left trail leads to the upper part of the Ouzous trail, thus you reach the summit via the Ouzous route.
Trail from Ouzous
From the parking area at Ouzous follow the road up the mountain to the church of Ouzous. After the church follow the signposts “Pibeste” to the right. This road leaves the village and - now unpaved - traverses a creek.
Follow the road five switchbacks up or - if the road is closed (it is a private one) follow the trail which branches off to the left, bypassing the switchbacks and gaining the road again - and leave the road a little after a farmhouse on a trail on the right side of the road (again signposts to “Pibeste”). This trail ascends in the woods, gains a broad and huge meadow, traverses this meadow to the east and arrives at an information panel and a short botanic information trail. Nice views into the valley.
Follow the information trail or the parallel running main trail up the meadows in some zigzags until you reach a col (Col de Portes, 1229 m).
After the col the trail descends some meters and traverses another meadow below the summit ridge. The summit with the old cableway station is already in sight.
Traverse the meadow and follow the trail, entering the summit woods and ascending to the summit ridge. At the summit ridge you reach a broad trail leading easily to the summit.
Ridge Route (Pene de Souquette)
On the summit ridge there is a trail connecting Pic de Pibeste with the next summit to the west which is a little bit higher. This not very prominent summit - more a point where three ridges meet smoothly - is called Pene de Souquette (1420 m).
From Pic de Pibeste just follow the trail on the ridge to the east. After a section with rocks and meadow patches in between, the trail enters the woods and gains another meadow. At the end of this second meadow follow the path up the ridge to its highest point (station point) where the woods end abrupt and you have a good view to the west and the south. This is Pene de Souquette. Hike back to the Pibeste trails on the same route.
This ridge trail offers the possibility to go on to Soum du Prat du Rey, a sharp limestone ridge west of Pic de Pibeste / Pene de Souquette. This should be partly off trail and with some rock climbing activities (UIAA grade I) but not too difficult. But it is much longer than returning to the Pibeste trails (!)
In the 1 : 50.000 map, Bigorre (see below), there is a trail / route sketched in red which traverses Pene de Souquette on the north side and runs to Soum du Prat du Rey. According to my observations there is no trail north of the summit of Pene de Souquette. The trail follows the ridge and gets more and more indistinct west of Pene de Souquette.
Trailhead connecting route
To make a nice loop (Vidalos - Pic de Pibeste - Ouzous or vice versa) there is a connecting route between the two trailheads.
From Ouzous follow the road to Vidalos to the end of the village. After 100 m at some houses leave the road to the left on an unpaved road (bicycle trail). Follow this road straight on and after some other houses to the right (not left as the bicycle route !). Pass by those houses. The road changes into a trail above the road Vidalos - Ouzous (Rue de Pibeste).
At the village Ayzac - Ost the trail meets the road again. Follow the Rue de Pibeste to the D 921b and along this Departemental road to Vidalos (about 800 m) or follow the Chemin des Arrous to the left which leads back to the unpaved road from Vidalos near the old limestone quarry. Descend the road to Vidalos.
You find all kinds of accomodations in the surrounding villages:
Nearby villages are:
Gear & Mountain Conditions
Pic de Pibeste is an easy hike on good trails with a moderate altitude difference. Due to its moderate height and the southern exposure of the two main trails Pic de Pibeste is a spring to autumn hike.
Pic de Pibeste is known as one of the greatest panorma lookouts to the central Pyrenéan ranges in the region. Unfortunately the weather conditions on our summit day weren´t favorable for a validation of this claim.
Normal hiking gear and good boots are sufficient.
The following maps can be recommended: