Climbed in february time ago. Hard ice pitch at the end (grade 4) unroped till there. Long descent. 10 hours hut to hut
I hiked up Petit Vignemalle as a member of 'Pyrenean Ram', a 15 man British Army expedition hiking through the Pyrenees. We hiked up from the valley floor on the 10th, and camped the night near the refuge de Baysellance. Despite the loud cursings from various members, who discovered that they had been carrying pet rocks around in their bergens for most of the day, we enjoyed a really spectacular sunset, and a few glasses of sangria at the refuge.
Hiked up Petit Vignemalle the following day, and then on down to the town of Gavernie.
In a 20 hour puss car-summit-car, including a night under the clouds and a foggy summit. The Chechena Couloir was in perfect conditions, descent via Moskowa route. Snowing and fog at the summit.
Lacked time or equipment to stay in the area and climb better, harder routes, but I've wanted to go back ever since. Perhaps one day the Couloir de Gaube...
Some summitlog for the day: Gran Vignemale, Cerbillona and Central, three important summits of the massif. It rest to me more 3000m for the next time (Clot de la Hount, Monferrat, Petit Vignemale...).
Pique Longue du Vignemale, normal route, july 21st 2001. 5 climbers, straight from the Barrage d'Ossoue, in 5h30'. Descent in 2h30'. This moutain does not present any real difficulty. However, I think that most books or comments widely underestimate the following risks:
- crevasses on the Glacier d'Ossoue. They are real and deep. I think it is reasonable to be roped.
- the final section, a grade II climb in very loose rocks. Although very easy, in terms of climbing difficulty, it is also really exposed ; any mistake can be badly punished, since most people do not use ropes. I recommend, if any member of your party is not really experienced, to use a rope to secure him/her (especially for the descent). P.P.
Note: the refuge de Baysselance (a mountain cabin) closed after the 2000 season, and is supposed to reopen in 2003. It allows to do the climb in 2 days. Problem: the old refuge used to be crowded. I guess it will be the same with the new one, even if it is slightly bigger.