The Pic du Midi de Bigorre is one of the greatest mountains of the Pyrenees and probably the more polemic of all. The astronomical observatory and the terraces for tourists of the summit what can be reached in cable railway not reduce the beauty of this mountain but they do to evitate the climb to many mountaineers.
Road in winter
In spite of all if one manages to evade of everything that surrounds it in the top we are speaking of one of the greater landscapes that can be observed in all the Pyrenees and a beautiful mountain that deserves to be climbed and contemplated. Logically it's recommended insistently don't climb it in summer due to the overcrowding. The better options are to avoid the part civilized by the north or to walk the southern normal routes when the road is closed and even when it has a little of snow. With snow is a pretty climb but one must enlarge the precautions in the arrival to the top since is frequent in winter the presence of very dangerous ice plates.
The first climb of this mountain was realized by Ramond de Carbonnières in 1789, you can to read more about this adventurer in the page of Soum de Ramond
When Henry Russell climbed the peak in 1882 he commented: "on the ridge East there would be place for 5 or 6 houses, notice to the lovers of the liberty and the good views, here is certainly its business, in Switzerland there would be a good hotel" (Unfortunately he was right and at present there are several shops and restaurants in the top and already is possible to spend the night in the summit for some 195€, and even to pay for contemplating the dusk in summer with places reserved with months of advance...the business works!
South: The south face had the ski-resort of La Mongie and the best routes go in both sides (SW and SE) of this very civilizated place. The route from La Mongie it’s possible but not advisable. In SW is the famous road of Col du Tourmalet, important col of Tour de France. From this col begin a road what go to near of the summit, but, of course, this track it’s not advisable for the climb, but it's usefull for many persons. The normal route had generally the trailhead in a curve at west of Tourmalet near of the ski-resort of Super-Barèges (1588m). Another good option for SE is the climb from Artigues in valley of Gripp (1200m) with more slope. Both normal routes go across the Col of Sencours (2378m). The route from Artigues can to be followed to col d’Aouet as well to reach the ridge NE.
North: from valley of Lesponne with trailhead in Cabannes (huts) de L’Haye (1316m). Across col d’Aouet (2184m) we'll reach the ridge NE, easy rock climb of I+. It’s the less civilizated route, the only wild for the moment and the most advisable for mountaineers in my opinion.
The most important city is Bagnères de Bigorre in the northeast of the peak.
Approach to Bagnères de Bigorre: -France:
--From NW: direction to Pau and Tarbes. In Tarbes take D-935 to Bagnères.
--From NE: direction to Toulousse. In Toulousse take N-117 to Lannemezan and D-938 to Bagnères.
--From SW: entry in France across Irun-Hendaye. In Bayonne take A-64 (pay) to Pau and Tarbes. D-935 to Bagnères.
--From SE: take direction to Ainsa and Bielsa, across the tunnel of Bielsa is the entry in France to Arreau. Take D-935 to reach Bagnères across col d’Aspin.
The observatory of the summit is one of the highest of Europe and it was construited in 1873 by the general Nansouty with a lot of donations. In spite of its great astronomical utility not to stops surprising to mountaineer so great construction in the top especially the colossal antenna of 100 meters. More difficult to bear is the conglomeration of people of the terrace of the cable railway. Be a little patience with it. If you reach the summit in a sunny day with the cableway damaged without people you’re very lucky, you don’t forget this day. As well some days of year is closed and the feeling in the terrace without people with the great landscape is amazing.
-Don't climb in summer time (a lot of people), spring is a good season.
-The old road from Col de Tourmalet is generally ever close nowadays to cars by the risk of fall of stones but it's possible the change in the future. Free of cars for the moment.
-In the summit the terrace Baillaud is free but if you want to visit the other terrace or the museum you must to pay 13€ (6€ for childrens).
-Exist the posibility of make a descent in ski from the summit but with a guide and out of pistes.
-Not animals in the summit.
Timetable of cableway (téléphérique):
Horary (each 15 min)
wed, thue and frid from 8 february to 3
First from La Mongie
Last from La Mongie
Last return to descent
19h (after sunset)
Tariff: 23€. Youngs: 12€. Children: Free. In summer: 25€ and 12€. Students: 20€.
Hotels in Bagnères de Bigorre and others villages. Camping it's not allowed.
Pic du Midi official page of Pic Du Midi de Bigorre with information (french). Web Cam the five live web cam of the summit. Madteam gallery of pictures of our climb in september 2006.