Pyrenees Trip Report - day 12

A better nights sleep, but still awake with backache between 2 and 3am - foam mats are getting to be a drag.  We strike camp fairly efficiently in the morning, then wash and brush up at the refuge Oulette des Gaubes.

Then what feels like a fairly long stint up to the col for the petit Vignemale.  Its hard work and warm.

Maybe we don't see it in the best light, but this mountain is a shadow of the Grande Fache.  Its Saturday, and very busy, as there is a car park down from the glacier.  The ascent is also largely scree and rubble, and full of weekend walkers expelling air noisily - today, its overwalked.  Its still fairly impressive at the top, despite the racket there's pretty incredible views of the Vignemale glacier from above, and out to the south west and the cirque.

I realise suddenly I've lost some vertigo - I'm happily jumping from rock to rock on the summit without any thought of the air below - confident in my footing, enjoying a feeling of weightlessness - we've left our bags at the col.  A solitary woman brews up and takes the odd photo request.  We meet her later on the path down, it turns out to be Anna, who I have written about before - indeed, a woman that knows!

We hide from the midday sun at the Refuge de Baysellance, and eat our slightly stale rations from Wallon.  Then a last look at the very top

and a long haul down to the Barrage d'Ossoue, which we only start to enjoy about half way down.  At Henry Russell's grotto Bellevue I take my hat off and ping myself in the eye with the elastic - much cursing ensues, blinded by the light!  The glacier and waterfalls are increasingly stunning as we go down, the path increasingly lovely, as we mosey around overhangs and are granted another amazing vista, a snowfield to cross, and a distant view of the tops at Gavarnie.

I take a shower at one of the waterfalls near the Dam, trying to ignore the calor gas canister and tins bought down from above by the falling water, and rinse out some clothes.  Despite the nearby road-head it really is an incredible place to wild camp for the last time this trip.  We drink wine and think about how lucky we are.  The light bounces off the snow as sun sets.