Explore 360

Monte Perdido

& Cirque de Gavarnie

  • Where?

    France

  • Altitude

    3,355m

  • Duration

    5 days

  • Weather

  • Physical

    P2

  • Technical

    T2

  • P2 - Prolonged walking over varied terrain. There may be uphills and downhills, so a good solid fitness is required. Expect to be able to do a 6 to 8 hour walk over undulating terrain with a few punchy uphill climbs carrying a pack up to 6kg in weight.

    Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.

  • T2 - Consider this a trek, although there may be occasion to use hands for short sections of easy scrambling. No previous climbing or trekking experience is necessary.

    Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.

  • Overview

  • Date & Prices

  • Pics & Vids

  • Itinerary

  • Kit List

  • FAQs

Overview

The magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Pyrenees National Park and the Ordesa wilderness area is dominated by the “Lost Mountain”, Monte Perdido. This grandiose mountain massif, standing at 3,335 metres, is the highest limestone mountain in Europe and third highest peak in the mighty Pyrenees.

From this enormous mountain plunging canyons and vast glacial cirques, some several thousand metres deep, emanate in every direction of the compass. An ascent of this remarkable mountain rewards you with a birds eye view of one of the most beautiful and unique wilderness areas in Europe.

Although the focus for this magnificent 3-day ascent will be to climb Monte Perdido, we also get the opportunity to explore France’s impressive world heritage designated Cirque de Gavarnie. Approaching the mountain from this direction allows us to stand in awe of the park’s best known features, the stupendous vertical walls of the Cirque itself, the Gran Cascade (Europe’s highest waterfall) and the Brèche de Roland, a striking gap in the jagged skyline ridge which forms the border between France and Spain and is the entrance to the spectacular Perdido National Park.

Find out more
Monte Perdido , & Cirque de Gavarnie Monte Perdido , & Cirque de Gavarnie

Date & Prices

For private trips or bespoke itineraries inc. different dates, please contact the 360 office on 0207 1834 360.

A monthly payment plan is possible, please contact the office to chat through the options.

For private trips or bespoke itineraries inc. different dates, please contact the 360 office on 0207 1834 360.
A monthly payment plan is possible, please contact the office to chat through the options.

Departure & Return

Duration

Price (excl. flight)

Price (incl. flight UK-UK)

Start: 23 September 2020
End: 27 September 2020

Price without flights:  £680

23 September 2020

27 September 2020

5 days

£680

N/A

Included

  • 360 leader
  • Airport transfers to and from Toulouse
  • Transfers to and from mountain base
  • 2 nights accommodation in Gavarnie / Luchon based guest house with breakfast
  • 2 nights refuge accommodation during trek including breakfasts, packed lunch and dinner
  • Dinner on first night
  • 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor
  • Monthly payment plan, on request

Not Included

  • International flights to Toulouse
  • Personal equipment
  • Insurance
  • Dinner on the last night in Luchon
  • Alcohol, laundry and other items of a personal nature
  • Any additional costs associated with leaving the expedition early

Pics & Vids

Itinerary

DAY 1 : Arrive France. Toulouse - Gavarnie

You will be met at Toulouse airport by your 360 guide, who will be leading you on the Monte Perdido ascent, and be taken by minibus to the French mountain village of Gavarnie, which sits below the enormous glacial cirque that shares its name. We’ll stay at a small local hotel in the village and, after settling in, we’ll  get to know our team with a walk in to the heart of this massive amphitheatre. Then, after a hearty traditional supper, turn in for a good night’s sleep.

(D)

DAY 2 : Col des Tentes (Gavarnie, France) - Refuge Goriz (Ordesa, Spain)

We start our trek at the Col des Tentes at 2,200m, a short distance west of the Gavernie. Starting off by heading for the obvious symmetrical notch in the ridge known as the Brèche de Roland, we cross a river below a thundering waterfall and soon reach the large French mountain refuge named after the Brèche.   From here, we have incredible views down into the Cirque de Gavarnie with its 1,400m high wall of cliffs. Given its perfect symmetry, it’s not hard to imagine a giant carving out this unique feature with a huge ice-cream scoop! Immediately noticeable to the far end of the Cirque is the “Grande Cascade”, Europe’s biggest waterfall which plunges spectacularly from the top edge of the cliffs.  A steep climb brings us to the remains of the Glacier de la Brèche de Roland where we cross the border into Spain.

The untamed wilderness of the Ordessa Perdido National Park becomes immediately tangible as we descend. Here, paths are few, and wildlife such as marmots and herds of the Pyrenean chamoix or Izard can be spotted. Occasionally the world’s largest bird of prey, the Lammergier, will glide effortlessly overhead.  Following an old smugglers’ path over limestone scree and over a small saddle we descend to the high Alpine meadows that rim both the Ordesa and Anisclo Canyons. The trail here meanders through a unique and otherworldly karst landscape of dramatic rock formations and wide fissures into which surface streams disappear.  Towards late afternoon we reach the spectacularly situated Goriz Refuge, our home for the next two nights, and we can relax, soak up the sunset and enjoy a tasty Spanish dinner.

Trekking:7-8 hours

(BLD)

DAY 3 : Climb Monte Perdido

Leaving the refuge before sunrise, we climb steadily up a clearly marked trail in a southerly direction up a wide slope, before turning into the steep sided glacier valley separating the spectacular summits of Cilindro de Marbore (3,328m) and our target, Monte Perdido. As we climb, the sun will begin to light up the wide chasm of Europe’s biggest canyon, the Ordesa Gorge. Crossing through the “city of rocks” we might encounter our first snow, wide drifts which we can easily cross without crampons, and after 3 to 4 hours we reach the small mountain lake of Laguna Helado, nestled below the imposing walls of Cilindro and a  broad col separating these incredible mountains.

From here, the mountain assumes a very different appearance to that we saw from the refuge, and at last admits superiority over the surrounding peaks as the terrain steepens and becomes more alpine in nature.  From the lake we scramble up steeping slopes which, early in the season, might still be covered in snow and gain a broad gully which steepens near its top before reaching a saddle and the final summit ridge. The views from the summit of this incredible mountain are immense: falling below us is the summit of our closest neighbour, the incredibly precipitous Cilindro; to the south the steep bluffs of the Sum de Ramond Canyon plunge deeply into the beautiful Valle de Pineta, while far off we can see the massive mountains of the Poset range and the highest mountain in the French Pyrenees, the Vignemale. Below us, looking west we see the deep and mysterious Anisclo Canyon carving deep into the earth and the vast limestone plateau empty abruptly into the mighty Ordessa Canyon. Looking north we see the edge of the Cirque de Gavernie and beyond this the impressive 3,000 metre mountains of the Spanish Pyrenees. We’ll stay on the summit for a while to soak up the grandeur of this immense wilderness area, before descending the same route back down to the refuge for a well-deserved supper and good night’s sleep.

Trekking: 7.4 km, 8-10 hours

(Altitude gain: + 1,155m / -1,155m)

(BLD)

DAY 4 : Breche de Roland to Col de Tentes & Bagneres de Luchon (France)

We’ll get an early start and are sure to encounter dozens of playful marmots, herds of Izard and hopefully spot golden eagle or the lammergier. Today our trek reverses our route from the Goriz Refuge and we climb back to the Brèche de Roland and cross back into France. Our ascent to the Brèche might vary on conditions and how we feel after our big climb the day before, and can be made a little less arduous by remaining in the alpine pastures before crossing a low col and then beginning our steady 300 metre climb to the Brèche on a different path. Once in France, we stop at the refuge for a coffee before descending another hour to the vehicle at Col de Tentes.

Once back at the vehicle we transfer 2-3 hours to the French mountain town of Bagneres de Luchon. Here, we’ll check into a comfortable, central hotel and celebrate our remarkable weekend getaway with tasty French cuisine, and no doubt a drop of fine French wine or beer!

Trekking time: 5-6 hours.

(BL)

DAY 5 : Depart to UK

Depending on the flight departure times, we may have a morning free to enjoy this beautiful mountain town. Numerous cafés and French bakeries line the main street for a leisurely start to the day, or you might want to regain the birds eye perspective and take a paraglide flight over the Luchon Pyrenees.

We’ll transfer to Toulouse Blagnac airport, which will take around 2 hours, in preparation for our flights back to our home countries.

(B)

 

This itinerary is subject to minor changes depending on flight arrival and departure times, weather, group dynamics and fitness and so on, but the itinerary outlined provides an excellent indication of the trek and what you will experience.

Kit List

Bags & Packs

Daysack

40-60L rucksack that is well worn in and with a good waist belt. A waterproof cover is advisable (remember that these covers are not 100% waterproof but act as a barrier) Whilst on the mountain you will need to carry all of the kit that you are not wearing.

Dry stuffsacks

Pack some fresh clothing into bags to keep them dry in the event of a total downpour that seeps into your kitbag. Good for quarantining old socks

Waterproof rucksack cover

To protect rucksack from rain

Sleeping Gear

2 Season sleeping bag

You should get a sleeping bag rated to 5C and choose a sleeping bag that functions within the comfort rating of this temperature.

A silk sleeping bag liner will enhance this rating on the coldest nights.

Sleeping bag liner

Silk is best for keeping the bag clean and you a little warmer

Headwear

Warm headgear

This can be a warm hat, beanie, balaclava, anything to reduce the heat loss from your head

Wide brimmed hat

Keeps the sun off exposed areas like ears and the nape of the neck

Sunglasses

Category 4 wrap around style is highly recommended. These sunglasses allow for the highest available protection against harmful UV light found at altitude and from glare from snow and sand surfaces. Worth spending money on good UV filters. Julbo is our preferred supplier

Lip salve

Sun cream will not work on your lips and they are very susceptible to burn without proper protection

Sunblock

Buy the highest SPF you can find as UV intensifies with altitude

Upper Body

Base layer

This is the layer closest to the skin and its principal function is to draw (wick) moisture and sweat away from the skin. You can also get thermal base layers for use at higher altitudes that provide an additional insulative layer while still drawing sweat during times of high exertion

Quantity: 2

Mid layer

These are typically lightweight microfleeces or similar technology that provide varying degrees of warmth and insulation without being overly bulky or heavy to pack

T-shirts

A couple of T-shirts are advisable also for this summer expedition.  The days an be reasonably warm (with high temperatures at lower altitudes)

Hard Shell

These jackets are thin, highly waterproof and windproof and worn over all other items of clothing. You’ll find these made of Gore-Tex or other proprietary waterproof yet breathable technology. Inexpensive hard shells that aren’t breathable will prevent evaporation, making you sweat intensely and are not recommended

Soft Shell

These should be windproof (not all are) and insulative. They are mostly made of soft polyester and sometimes resemble a neoprene finish which makes them very mobile and comfortable to wear. While offering a degree of weather repellence, they are not waterproof

Gloves

Lower Body

Shorts

A pair or two of shorts are advisable for this summer expedition – or trousers that zip off.  The days can be reasonably warm, with high temperatures at lower altitudes.

Trekking trousers

These tend to be polyester so they dry quickly after a shower and weigh little in your pack. Consider perhaps a pair with detachable lower legs as an alternative to shorts

Underwear

Merino or wicking material, not cotton. How many pairs you take is entirely up to you

Waterproof trousers

A lightweight pair of Goretex/eVent trousers that will act as a great windproof too

Feet

Walking boots

Well worn in 4 season waterproof boots with mid to high ankle support

Spare laces

Just in case

Comfortable trainers/Crocs

For use in the evenings. With most refuges, you will need to take your boots off when you go in. Some provide croc/slippers but not all.

Trekking socks

Single layer or wearing 2 pairs is a personal choice and lighter weight merino wool is a good option

Quantity: 3

Hydration

Water bottles / bladder

2L capacity either in a combination of bladder and Nalgene bottle or just Nalgene bottles

Quantity: 2

Water purification

Although generally all water is boiled some prefer to double up and add purification tabs as well. Always good to have in your bag

Evening Wear

Evening clothes

Comfortable clothes for the evening

Toiletries

Alcohol gel

A must have for good camp hygiene

Toilet paper

Provided at the accommodation but a spare in your daysack may be useful if you need to hide behind a rock during the trekking day.

Wet wipes

Helpful for washing when shower facilities are limited, one packet will suffice.

Expedition towel

Towels from the likes of Lifesystems are perfect

Wash kit

Keep it simple on the mountain. Essentials are toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. Moisturiser is advisable, everything else is a luxury!

Medications

Personal first aid kit

The 360 med kits are designed to be used in emergencies and akin to an A&E rather than a pharmacy on Expeditions so please come prepared with useful meds for yourself such as painkillers (Ibuprofen if you can take it and a Paracetamol) plus blister plasters, plasters, antiseptic, rehydration sachets and any muscle rubs you wish to use.

Personal medication

Keep this in your daysack

Miscellaneous

Camera

Bring plenty of spare batteries and memory cards

Head torch

Bring spare batteries or a spare head torch

Snacks

Although you will be fed well we do we advise bringing a small selection of energy bars. Have a couple per trekking day

Ear plugs

For protection against the inevitable snorers!

Penknife (optional)

Swimsuit

For the odd swim if we find a suitable mountain lake!

Trekking poles

These tend to be a personal preference but help with your stability and can dampen the pressure on the knees coming down hill

Documentation

Passport

Don’t forget this! Your passport should have at least 6 months validity.  With your passport expiry date at least six months after the final day of travel.

Copy of passport

Just in case

Dental check up

We recommend you have a dental check-up before your trip. New fillings can be an issue at altitude if there is an air pocket left in the gap

Travel insurance

Copy of own travel insurance details.  And relevant contact numbers.

We have a partnership with True Traveller and would recommend that you contact them when looking for travel insurance for your trip with 360. However, it is vital that you ensure that the insurance cover they offer is suitable for you, taking your personal circumstances (items to be insured, cancellation cover, medical history) into account. Many other insurance providers are available and we do recommend that you shop around to get the best cover for you on the expedition you are undertaking.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip.  To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.

EH1C (formerly E111)

While you do have travel insurance, this can save you paperwork and reduce upfront costs should you have a minor ailment or need to see a local GP if you already have one

FAQs

Food and Water

Where do we get drinking water from?

Drinking water will be provided in the mornings at the hotel or refuge, then throughout the day we pass streams in various places that you can top up from if you should run out, so do take purification to add to it in the form of silver chloride or chlorine.

What is the food like?

The food in the refuges are is plentiful and of very good quality, using locally sourced ingredients – do remember that all food is trekked in brought in by helicopter! You can expect hearty meals in the evenings and simple but filling packed lunches.

Do you provide snacks during this expedition? Or do you recommend that we bring our own?

360 provides some snacks for your days on the mountain, however do bring some of your favourite snacks from home, a range of fast and slow release energy snacks. The pure ‘energy’ style bars which are solid are quite tough to eat on the mountain so go with simple things. Flapjacks, shortbread, sweets, nuts and chocolate are great, snacks that you’re going to really look forward to eating and which will give you energy.

Accommodation

What is the accommodation like throughout?

You’ll be staying in simple but comfortable accommodation in the hotels.

The refuges are more basic, these are inaccessible mountain huts – albeit large. They all have running water, so flush toilets are standard. Most will have hot showers, but on a busy day that hot water will be in high demand and may run out. Accommodation here is in dormitories, so earplugs are recommended if snorers keep you awake!

Food along the way will be good with ample carbohydrate content – think pasta, rice, potatoes etc, but don’t expect a la carte, food often has to be flown in by helicopter! Given we are all carrying our own kit we don’t want to be weighed down by tents and cooking equipment, and as the refuges have beds and washing facilities they are considered the sensible and more comfortable option on these routes.

Kit

What bag do I need to bring?

A rucksack of around 40-60L should do you just fine. If you are borrowing or buying a rucksack, ask someone to help you adjust it to fit your back. And ensure you are making these adjustments with weight inside it, not empty. Generally it should sit reasonably high on your back so that the weight is acting vertically downwards, not forcing your shoulders back or drooping past your backside. Again, it’s about how you feel comfortable wearing it and important to get right.

Make sure too that it is either waterproof or you have a waterproof cover for your rucksack. It’s not a bad idea to pack your gear into waterproof stuffs sacs, or even bin bags, in case of a deluge.

Do we need any technical gear for this?

No, this is a trek, so standard walking gear outlined in the kit list should suffice.

Do I need a sleeping bag?

We recommend a one or two season sleeping bag, depending on how cold you get. We definitely recommend looking for something lightweight – you will be carrying it!

Some people like to bring a light sleeping bag plus a sleeping bag liner also for colder nights, which will save you some weight.

 

The Trek

How fit do I need to be?

Although we’re not at altitude, or in somewhere like the Himalayas, don’t underestimate this trek. The days are relatively long with reasonable altitude gains (and losses) each day. If you make an effort with fitness before coming out you’ll enjoy it far more than if you are struggling up every hill each day barely able to notice the spectacular views.

Can we swim if we pass any lakes?

They’ll be cold but there’s no reason why not!

The Weather

What’s the weather like up there?

It’s likely to be lovely and sunny, and reasonably warm (pretty hot lower down). However, we’re in the mountains, and not very far from the Atlantic, so there is every risk of rain, thunderstorms, and wind. Night time temperatures high up will be decidedly chilly.

The climate of the Pyrenees is generally better than the UK, but there is still the risk of inclement weather, so we advise in the kit list to pack accordingly (see above). And just like any other holiday, having a quick last minute look at the forecast before you come out can be a useful pointer of what’s in store.

Travel

Flights aren’t included what time should I arrive and depart to Toulouse?

We haven’t included flights as this gives you options from the UK. There are many flights that come to Toulouse daily from many different airports.

We will be at the airport at 11.30 am on day one of the itinerary. On the day you leave, we will be dropping the team off at Toulouse airport for 2.30 pm.  (These times are approximate and are TBC.)

Please, therefore, find flights that work for these timings.

If there are any issues with this please let us know and we will also try and help however it might mean in getting a hire car/train or taxi to your start/finish point.

Bagneres de Luchon is 1h 40 mins drive away.

Insurance

Do I need special insurance for this trip?

You must carry individual travel insurance to take part in the expedition. We cannot take you on the mountain without proof of insurance.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip. To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.

Your insurance details are requested on the booking form, however this can be arranged at a later date. 360 Expeditions will be requesting your insurance details 8 weeks before your departure.

Electronics

Will my mobile work?

On and off, don’t rely on it but there could be exposed points where you get a signal, notable higher up. In valleys you’ll be hard pushed to get a signal unless they are populated, though in the towns at the start and end points of the trek you’ll likely get much better signal.

Super genuine, friendly, professional company. I did the Expedition Skills Course in the Pyrenees with them this year and would definitely look to do more trips with them again. Highly recommmend!

Davina Liu, Love Her Wild Expeditions Skills Course
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