Lac d'Espingo from Col d'Espingo
The route from the Granges d'Astau
through Hourquette de Hounts-Secs
is one stage of the French Pyrenees trekking trail GR10. On it - and a little beyond, you can visit three glacier lakes, you cross three saddles and finally you can ascend to one of the most interesting lookout peaks of the region, Pic de Céciré
. Yet, due to its length, it is seldome hiked from this side - which doesn't mean you find solitude anywhere near.
The first part of the route, from the Granges d'Astau
to Lac d'Oô
is a s popular as the lake itself and will be hiked by dozens of tourists on any fine day. Moreover, most of the section runs on a dirt road, which supports Refuge du Lac d'Oô
. Between Lac d'Oô
and Col d'Espingo
crowds get thinner while between the Col and Pic de Céciré you'll only occasionally meet anyone. Above Lac d'Oô
the route is a hiking path in character.
See the main page of Pic de Céciré
for the itinerary to the Granges d'Astau
Lac d'Oô in deep shadows during the morning ascent to Col d'Espingo
- Start altitude: 1139m
- Summit altitude: 2403m
- Prevailing exposure: W
- Type: Hike
nbsp; - Protection: None
Power: 3 - Strenuous
Psyche: 1 - No exposure
Difficulty: 1 - Hike
Orientation: 1 - Marked
From the big parking lot at the Granges d'Astau (restaurant) follow the upper of two roads heading up the eastern slopes of Val d'Astau. The road soon heads into the forest and starts winding its way up towards Lac d'Oô. After about two thirds of the way you get to the two spot parking for the keepers of Refuge de Lac d'Oô, from where the road vanishes and switches to a level path. After an irrigation building the path turns left, heads down towards the creek which comes down from the lake, then ascends again towards the refuge on the opposite side of the creek.
Stay on the near (eastern) side and follow the trail which at first negotiates a few rocky sections near the lakeshore, then gradually ascends towards the large waterfall in the background. Take care in this section - there are vipers! The path has some excellent lookouts over Lac d'Oô before it heads up the step, down which a few hundred metres to the right the big cascade falls.
A bit steeper now, the path heads through and along a creek bed upwards to Col d'Espingo on the top of the terrain step, which bounds Lac d'Oô to the south. Right before you reach the saddle a path turns off to the left, heading for Hourquette de Hounts-Secs. We'll follow this path a bit later.
Lac d'Espingo, Pic d'Espingo (2856m) from the shores of Lac Saussat
I recommend you take the time to hike to Col d'Espingo and take in the views there. If you have enough time on your hands, also visit Lac d'Espingo and Lac Saussat, which are cradled in Cirque d'Espingo, one of the most important cirques of the Luchon area. On fine days and on weekends you'll have to share the area with lots of people but it really is enjoyable. Also, it is the staging ground for climbs to the major peaks of the cirque.
For Pic de Céciré head back across Col d'Espingo towards the aforementioned intersection. Turn right (north) and the path will take you gradually up the west slopes of Cap de Hounts-Secs. After a while the switchbacks start and take you quickly (and steeply) towards Hourquette de Hounts-Secs. Enjoy the good views down onto Lac d'Oô.
Now the aspect of the terrain changes. In the far back you'll already see the doublet of Soum de Coume de Bourg and Pic de Céciré. But before you reach it you'll have to cross two valleys. Descend to the right (north) and the path will run in a wide circle underneath the north face of Cap de Hounts-Secs. On the far side of the valley it rises in several switchbacks to the next (unnamed) saddle. Again turning right the path descends into the second valley only to head up to Col de Coume de Bourg right underneath Pic de Céciré.
View from Hourquette de Hounts-Secs to Pic de Céciré
The official ascent path starts a bit beneath the Col on its eastern side. However, there is an unmarked trail crossing the Soum de Coume de Bourg south face and cutting short towards the official path which heads into the saddle, which separates the Soum from Pic de Céciré.
Looking back towards Hourquette de Hounts-Secs
From this saddle the path now stays underneath the ridgeline of the Céciré south-west ridge, following it closely but some 50m underneath. It aims beyond the Céciré summit for a point on the upper north ridge, from where the remaining last steps take you back south to the summit.
Essential GearHiking gear.
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