Pic de Port Vieux seen from Soum de Barroude
In the Aragnouet
region of the Pyrenées de Bigorre
you can find a number of important trade route passes, both current and ancient. Naturally the road through the Tunnel de Bielsa
comes to mind as today's most important gateway between the French and Spanish parts of the region. But in former times three saddles attracted all traffic in the area: Port de Bielsa
, Port Vieux
and Port de Barroude
. The three trade routes recombine south of Aragnouet
and north of Bielsa
and thus anticipated the modern road through the tunnel.
To the north of the Pyrenees Main Ridge
, thw two valleys, which lead to the saddles, Vallon de Seaux
and Vallon de la Géla
have been threatened with the development of a big ski area on the slopes of Pic de Bourgarde
. In effect this new ski area is an extension of nearby Piau-Engaly, which already has turned the slopes of Pic du Piau
into a sore sight. Like Piau-Engaly
the new ski area is supposed to be cradled in a nook of the Parc National des Pyrenées
, touching its borders. The local population, while surely profiting from the windfall of a new ski area, regards the extension with a critical eye.
In the end of these two valleys, like a culmination point on the main ridge in this trade route area, you can find Pic de Port Vieux
, a mountain of 2723m height. It is located directly between Port Vieux
and Port de Barroude
and can be climbed from either saddle. Most interesting is the traverse from one saddle to another, which runs on easy hiking slopes for most of the part.
When seen from Vallon de la Géla
in the north, Pic de Port Vieux
shows its impressive north ridge, which rises near vertically above the valley end. The higher up you get, however, you realize that this ridge is little more but a promontory and that the real summit lies hidden above and behind it. Moreover, the summit turns out to be a grassy ridge, easy to climb from the southern end. Thus, Pic de Port Vieux
is most often climbed from Port de Barroude and seen as a separate summit destination only in combination with the traverse between the two saddles.
Pic de Port Vieux
as well as the whole area around Port de Barroude
are famous for their views of Muraille de Barroude
, the 600+m high walls of Pic de Troumousse
, Pic Heid
, Petit Pic Blanc
and Pic de Gerbats
, which offer a deep view into the geological history of the area, thanks to their broad layers of completely different rock composiitions. Most popular are the Lacs de Barroude
, glacier lakes, which cover the cirque between the muraille and Pic de Port Vieux
Muraille de Barroude from Pic de Port Vieux
There are two possible trailheads, one in the south, one in the north of the mountain. The northern one starts in a bend of the Bielsa Tunnel Road
, while the southern one starts at Hospital de Parzan
- From the north (France)
- Follow the Bielsa Tunnel Road between St Lary-Soulan and Bielsa.
- After Aragnouet and after the exit to Piau-Engaly there is a tiny parking space after the first sharp switchback of the road. Here Vallon de la Géla starts.
- For Hospital de Parzan drive through the tunnel. The parking lot is at the mouth of Valle de Barrosa.
- From the South (Spain)
- Also take the Bielsa Tunnel Road.
- Ignore the parking lot at Puente de Trigonerio and take the next parking lot at Hospital de Parzan.
- For the northern trailhead drive through the tunnel. Right before the exit to Piau-Engaly, in a sharp turn of the road, there is a small parking lot for Vallon de la Géla
Pic de Port Vieux
Muraille de Barroude from Soum de Barroude
as well as the ridge between Port de Barroude
and Port Vieux
are part of Parc National des Pyrenées
. The usual restrictions apply. For more information about the parc, follow the following link:
on the French side and Valle de Bielsa
on the Spanish one are among the most popular ski areas of the Pyrenees. Thus there is lots of accommodation to be found. The closest campground is near Fabian
at Le Pont du Moudang
on the Bielsa Tunnel Road. The following links give you all sorts of information about the greater area including accommodation:
Muraille de Barroude
Maps & BooksMaps
- Aneto - Posets
- Gavarnie - Ordesa
- Pyrénées Centrales V
Vallées d'Aure et de Luchon
- Pyrenäen 1 / Pyrénées 1
- Pyrenäen 2 / Pyrénées 2