Pic d'Estos, also named Pic d'Arrouyette, is a splendid peak located in the Lustou group that separates the valley of Aure and the valley of Louron. It is the easternmost peak of the group, and is particularly well visible from the bottom of the Louron valley, near the Loudenvielle lake for example.
The Pic d'Estos is a top for walkers, quite easy to climb by its normal route, despite the path on the final part require attention to find the right place to walk without scrambling.
The cliffs on the south side of the summit, over the valley of La Pez, are impressive.
The summit panorama is very rewarding, we get superb views. On the Lustou and its northern ridge, called Pararouis, on its nearest neighbour the Sarrouyès, which looks splendid all the way long, overlooking the little lakes "Lacs des Miares" (the ascent of this other peak can be combined with Estos in the same day).
Looking East, we get a whole panorama to the high mountains of the Luchonnais, from the Hourgade, the Perdiguère, the Gourgs Blancs. The Posets and the Bachimala South-East.
Note: Despite located not more than a dozen of kilometers from another almost-identically named valley (Estós, on the Spannish side), this looks like a pure coincidence. "Estos" is likely to come from "Estive" (summer pasture). However, there is a chance that the peak is called so since standing in the alignment of the Estós valley, but it needs to be verified on the place whether Estos top is really visible from Estós valley. From the top, it is hard to say. If it comes to be true, it would mean Estos used to be the spanish name while Arrouyette used to be the french one.
Lacs des Miares
Aure valley, winter
Aure valley, summer
Sea of clouds...
Estos from the Lacs des Miares
As we can expect from a peak located at the end of a french valley in "cul-de-sac", Estos is best reached from France by car.
Both of the possible starting points (Col d'Azet and Ourtigué) can be reached either from the Louron or Aure valley, however the drive via the Aure valley is simplier, especially for Ourtigué, despite the peak is more oriented on the side of the Louron valley.
The Aure valley is also the only possibility if you come from Spain (Huesca, Ainsa) and the Bielsa Tunnel.
Two starting points are possible:
- From the Granges d'Ourtigué
- From the Col d'Azet
Both are nearly the same from the elevation point of view, as these two routes meet in the Sarrouyès valley.
Starting from Col d'Azet involves going down during a significant part of the approach (then going up when coming back).
Furthermore, the route via Col d'Azet goes under the pylons of the ski station, and col d'Azet is more remote to reach by car than Ourtigué.
Then, hikers mey prefer the more picturesque route via the Ourtigué barns.
However, the first part in the Ourtigué forest doesnt'allow the views we get on the Azet route.
The rest of the route goes (almost) until the twin lakes of Sarrouyès, located in a northen corrie that almost never sees the sun. Just before these lakes, the real path is climbing on the right, towards the Sarrouyès pass, just before which is located a green metallic hut of sherperds (closed).
Reaching Col de Sarrouyès
Few meters ahead is a large pass in which are lying a half dozen of little lakes, Lacs des Miares. The reflections of the surrounding peaks in them, Estos, Sarrouyès, Parraouis, are gorgeous. This is the point from where the route to the Sarrouyès separates.
There are many possible ways to get now to top of the Pic d'Estos. The hikers going up may prefer reaching the main ridge as early as possible, to get the views on the other side (which is justified, the view in the La Pez valley below is breathtaking), and get a more gentle slope to the summit.
While descending, one may prefer a more straightforward descent to Lacs des Miares via rocky boulders.
Another more adventurous route is mentionned on the website of Philippe Queinnec, scrambling the northern ridge of the Pic d'Estos. However, the rock is said to be poor, and the scrambles tricky. Seen from the top, it looks a bit hazardous. Only for the confirmed mountaineers.
On the same website is a very good online-map of the route, in an applet of the IGN website (french maps, 1/25000).
We usually meeet a lot of tourists in the end of this hike, and the lifts from the Azet station work now also in summer, taking tourists into the Sarrouyès valley. However very few of them get to those summits.
Lacs des Miares
Pic d'Estos is not located in any National park, however beware of not leaving rubbish and so on...
The Sarrouyès valley, which you will walk whatever is your starting point, is a common area for cattle breeding; beware of pig-headed cows... :)
beware also if parking the car at Col d'Azet, one might find scratches of horns on the car body...
On the final ridge of Estos, beware of the rock and not to slip, this is a very brittle type of schist.
Lacs des Miares and the Sarrouyès while climbing down Pic d'Estos
Vallon de la Pez
You can bivouac anywhere you want in the area, far from the road and villages, without any troubles.
Concerning official campsites, there are many in both the Aure and the Louron valley.
One accommodation is worth mention for large groups of people: La Filature (former spinning mill), in Ancizan, with further information here and here (French). Prices can go as low as 10€ for groups over 10 people. A separate apartment is available too but rates may vary depending on the charges being shared with others or not.