The summit block was free of snow at this time of the year, but the lower slopes were still covered by the snow.
It was on one of the two days of fairly good weather I had during my week in the Pyrenees in 1993 that I first went up Le Taillon, then returned to the Brèche de Roland, and discovered more or less by mere chance the little trail leading - as apparently all the trails on the spanish side of the Pyrenees - with interruptions to the summit of Le Casque. An interesting mixture of trail and scramble. I went back down to the Refuge de la Brèche, and next morning through pouring rain back down to Gavarnie.
Sometimes it just doesn't come together.
We plan our summer routes at Easter (giving us plenty of time to book any hut nights we need). So Sarradets was booked for August 1st.
But the week before, I got the telephone call I'd been waiting for all year. My dad telling me my mum had died that night.
There was 2 weeks before the funeral. Dad told me to stay put and not come back to the UK straight away. Spend time with R and keep busy.
So, we kept with plan A. Five hours drive (on a holiday weekend) with about 3 hours of the drive stuck behind campervans.
From Gavernie we wound our way up to the parking at Col de Tentes. From there, 30 minutes to the col and then 1h 30m to the hut.
On the way we encountered a lady who had fallen and dislocated a shoulder (luckily her friends had it all under control).
Then, the cascade that you have to cross (there's a cable, but its realy for snow conditions). It was at full gush that evening (much more water than the morning, some guys told us) with the late-for-this-time-of-year snow melt.
The crossing was a bit hairy.
Above, lots of snow, rather mushy and horrible.
Just in time for supper.
From the window we saw the first 25 minutes of accent to the Brecha and decided (watching folk come down) we'd cross the snow not go up the scree-y path.
Next morning, we were the 3rd group to set off at 7. At the top of the first slope, we saw what can not be seen from the hut. A vast slope of snow up to the foot of the brecha.
Having also, a few weeks before, witnessed someone close to me slip and fall some distance down a snow slope (no injury and not a dangerous situation, but horrible to watch someone out of control... falling, falling).. can you guess what happened next?
Add to all that the looming clouds with, some saying, a storm predicted later... and you guessed it.
I couldn't go on. More important, I didn't want to go on.
Listen to yourself, and to the mountains. Know when to stop or turn back or try again another time. They will be there for you on another day, a better day for you. It's not a race or a competition. You don't prove anything by getting to the top at-all-costs.
I've learnt that over my mountaineering years. And I truley believe it one-hundred-percent.
From col des tentes et isards.
With Sabrina and Ol. 2002?
Hiked through the Breche, round the back and had lunch on the summit, looking 1500 meters down to the valley and the gorgeous panorama of the Pyrenees.
It was a long but beatiful climbing from Ordesa across Cotatuero. The first 3000 meters in a long day to Pico Marboré.