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Snowshoeing

in the Pyrenees

  • Where?

    France

  • Altitude

    2,833m

  • Duration

    6 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

  • FAQ's

Overview

As the earth warmed giant glaciers melted away leaving in their wake a landscape that is hard to phantom, incredible in its variety and a pleasure to explore.  Jagged mountains just like crocodile teeth above hidden Alpine cirques and hundreds of lakes sparkle like jewels in every fold of this incredible landscape.

The area known as the “Thousand Lakes” offers some of the best in Pyrenean trekking. Spend a day or a week in this remarkable place and you are sure to be captivated by its rugged beauty and vitality.

Our time here showcases the highlights of the region and features a snow-shoe adventure which traverses alpine cirques, crosses high passes and weaves around its many lakes. A night is spent in the remote and picturesque Ventosa Refuge where we can take in incredible sunsets and wake up to a truly magical sunrise.

Highlights: Spending time in the French and Spanish Pyrenees and enjoying a 3 day snowshoe expedition in the Aigues Tortes National Park that includes an ascent of Pic Montardo (2,833m).

Find out more

Snowshoeing, in the Pyrenees Snowshoeing, in the Pyrenees

Date & Prices

Departure & Return

Duration

Price (excl. flight)

Price (incl. flight)

Start: 25 January 2019
End: 28 January 2019

Price without flights:  £980

25 January 2019

28 January 2019

4 days

£980

N/A

Included

  • Guided snowshoeing with 360 Leader
  • Airport transfers to and from Toulouse
  • Transfers to and from mountain base
  • 3 nights in 3* hotel in Luchon
  • 2 nights in mountain refuge
  • Dinner on arrival and celebration fondue
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner on refuge nights
  • Snowshoes
  • Avalanche probe
  • Avalanche transceivers
  • Trekking poles

Not Included

  • Flights* (please see the FAQ’s for the pick-up / drop-off times in Toulouse)
  • Personal equipment
  • Insurance
  • Lunch and Dinner on Day 5
  • Lunch on Day 6
  • Drinks other than water and teas and coffees at breakfast
  • Any additional costs associated with leaving expedition early

Pics & Vids

Itinerary

DAY 1 : Arrive Toulouse. Drive to Luchon.

Today we see the snow-clad Pyrenees for the first time as you make your way South off Toulouse to the Spa town of Luchon. This vibrant town is the largest mountain town on the French side of the mountains and provides a great base to perfect the art of snow-shoeing.

Once settled into your accommodation you will be issued your snow-shoes and equipment and have an introduction to snowshoe techniques and familiarise ourselves with safety procedures, learning to use our avalanche transceivers and probes. Then it’s off to put theory to practice and climb up to a scenic look-out from which the entire Pyrenean range opens before you.

Night in 3* Luchon hotel. Dinner and brief.

(D)

(Snowshoeing time 3 hours)

DAY 2 : Transfer to start of the trail and commence adventure

We begin today by driving to the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. From the top of the pass we descend into the Val d’Aran and continue to drive for another 40 minutes. Here we’ll put on our snow-shoes and throw our rucksacks onto our backs. We start our snow-shoe adventure by climbing up the Aiguamox valley, having a coffee at the Banhs De Tredos, before heading up the valley.

From here we wind way through pine forest and hidden snow-laden valleys to the Refuge de Colomers (2,135 meters) situated next to a large frozen lake sharing its name. Once in the refuge, your guide will explain the hut protocols and we will make ourselves comfortable in this unique location.

Night in Colomeres Refuge (2,215 meters).  Dinner and brief.

(BLD)

(Transfer time 1 hour 20 minutes, Snowshoeing time 5-6 hours)

DAY 3 : Colomeres to Ventosa refuge (2,220 meters)

Leaving the lake and refuge behind us we first climb for around 1.5 hours to the Port de Caldes (2,570m) before dropping down into the Ventosa cirque and making our way westwards to the Guellacrestada (2,470m). From this isolated valley we climb the impressive dome of Pico Montardo (2,833 meters) to gain a jaw-dropping view of this incredible area. Surrounding us are hundreds of snow-covered peaks, isolated valleys and frozen lakes. Once we have our bearing we descend into the Cirque de Travessani.

This remote valley is surrounded by a massif of jagged granite peaks sharing its name and harbors three big lakes as well as many tarns. Here the remoteness of our situation becomes apparent as we lose the trail and follow cairns marking a winding route up naturally formed plateaus and the many tarns. From the floor of the Cirque a short but steep climb brings us to the beautifully situated Ventosa Refuge perched above the striking Estany Negre, “black lake”.

It is hard to imagine a more picturesque location as surrounding us is nature at its rugged best. We settle into our home for the night and have a great meal and a glass of wine before heading off to bed.

Night in Ventosa refuge 2,220m. Dinner and brief.

(BLD)

(Snowshoeing time  6-7 hours)

DAY 4 : Ventosa Refuge to valley.

Today we continue our exploration of this awe-inspiring landscape. After breakfast we say goodbye to the hospitable Refuge wardens and begin the climb to the highest point of the day, the Col de Caldes This remote pass tucked into the rocky ridge is the only way to cross into the magical glacial cirque below which shares its name.

Our tough ascent is rewarded by an incredible vista, not only can we see the route we have just climbed winding to our north but as we gaze across to the south we are rewarded with the incredible panorama of the cirque de Colomeres surrounded by dozens of sharply defined summits and sheltering hundreds of dazzling lakes and tarns.

Once again the feeling of wilderness is apparent as we pick our track-less way down into the valley before dropping down back to our starting point.

We now pick up our transfer back to France to Bagneres de Luchon.

Night in 3* Luchon hotel.

(BLD)

(Snowshoeing time 7 – 8 hours)

 

DAY 5 : Free Day in Luchon

Today is a free day in the wonderful spa town of Bagneres de Luchon. There are many lively bars and restaurants that you could discover.

Or why not treat yourself to an hour in the hot caves of the themes.

Night in 3* Luchon hotel.

(B)

DAY 6 : Reutrn to UK

Today we will have a lazy breakfast and a wonder around the charming spa town feeling re-vitalized and bursting with new amazing memories.

In the afternoon we head back to Toulouse to catch the evening flight home.

(B)

These are 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

Rucksack

Approx. 40-50L rucksack. Your day to day pack that you carry with your daily essentials, fitted with shoulder straps and importantly a waist belt

Waterproof rucksack cover

To protect rucksack from rain

Sleeping Gear

Sleeping bag liner

The refuge provides blankets but a liner is nice to sleep in

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

Buff/Scarf

Essential for protection from the sun

Sunglasses

Worth spending money on good UV filters. Category 4 wrap around style are essential due to the strength of UV rays at altitude.  Julbo is our preferred supplier

Sunblock

Essential for protection from the sun

Lip salve

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

Upper Body

Waterproof jacket (Outer layer)

Gore-Tex or event seam sealed are recommended and big enough to fit over a couple of layers. This jacket will also serve as a great windproof too

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: 2-3

Mid layer (long sleeved fleece tops)

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

Duvet jacket

Synthetic jackets recommended as they stay warm if wet. Arc’teryx recommended

Warm gloves

Consider liners or a light polartec pair for lower altitudes and evenings, and a thicker waterproof pair like ski gloves for higher altitudes

Lower Body

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

Quantity: 1-2

Waterproof trousers

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

Long Johns

Thermal insulation for the lower body

Underwear

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

Feet

Walking boots

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

Gaiters

Gaiters are essential for keeping the snow out of your boots

Trekking socks

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

Hydration

Water bottles / bladder

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

Evening Wear

Evening clothes

Comfortable clothes for the evening

Toiletries

Wash kit

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

Travel towel

Travel towels from the likes of Lifesystems are perfect

Wet wipes

These are great for washing when modern shower facilities become a thing of the past

Alcohol gel

A must have for good camp hygiene

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

Misceallaneous

Ear plugs

For protection against the inevitable snorers!

Head torch

Bring spare batteries

Camera

Bring plenty of spare batteries and memory cards

Snacks

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

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

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.

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

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

FAQ's

Guides

Are your guides qualified?

All the guides working on our courses hold the International Mountain Leader (IML) which is equivalent to the French ” Accompagnateur de Montagne”. We are all also registered to work in France which is a legal requirement in France.

Food and water

Where do we get drinking water from?

All drinking water is from the refuge or can be bought at various stops on the way to the national park.

What is the food like?

The food at the refuges is plentiful and of very good quality, often using locally sourced ingredients.

Breakfasts consist of pastries, fresh bread and jams and you can expect a three course meal in the evenings.

Can allergies be catered for?

Absolutely, please inform the office of any allergies or intolerance’s and we will ensure that these are taken into account on the trek.

What if I run out of snacks …are there places to buy stuff?

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 are the refuges like?

The mountain refuges are dormitory style accommodation but each person will have their own bunk bed.

Can you get a hot shower there?

Yes, hot showers are available. There may be a small supplement for hot water.

Health and Safety

What happens if there is a problem on the mountain?

360 Expeditions have conducted detailed risk assessments and put the necessary plans in place to cope with any accidents or illness whilst out on the snoweshoeing expedition. Our expedition leaders are highly qualified and experienced mountain leaders who hold expedition first aid qualifications and are used to working in remote environments. Their training allows them to deal with situations quickly and safely.

Should someone find themselves requiring further medical attention,the leader will organise for that individual to be taken from the trail and transferred to the nearest hospital. The leader and the 360 office team will also be on hand to offer guidance and support for insurance claims and contacting next-of-kin.

Am I likely to suffer from altitude sickness on this expedition?

At this altitude it is unlikely that you will suffer from altitude sickness.

Kit

Can I bring my own snow shoes and/or poles?

If you have your own snow shoes which you like this is fine. We strongly recommend that you have heel raisers and please also bring some spare items such as straps which are specific to the snow shoe in case you need to repair them. We carry a generic snow shoe repair kit for breakages but the specific ones are much better.

Trekking poles need to go in checked in luggage and can not be carried in hand luggage.

The Trek

What do I do if I arrive early on the pickup day?

There are regular buses and trams into Toulouse centre from Toulouse airport. They can drop you right outside Toulouse central train station where there are left luggage facilities. Toulouse is a beautiful city to explore and it is definitely worth the 20 minute journey.

Weather

What’s the weather like up there?

During the day temperatures can be warm and can even reach to the mid teens C. In the evening higher up, it could drop to below freezing and with a distinct chill in the air. For early spring or late autumn ascents there can be snow from the refuge up and the temperatures on the summit well below freezing.

As you will be trekking in a mountain environment, the weather can rapidly change for the worse so you need to be prepared for all conditions. Even in good weather it is not uncommon to have short heavy downpours or snowstorms.

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.

For our snowshoeing expedition we will be suggesting you get the following flights:

  • EasyJet Gatwick – Toulouse 0840 arriving at 1130
  • EasyJet Toulouse –  Gatwick 1805 arriving at 1900

 

If these do not suit then all you need to know is that we will be at the airport at midday on day one of the itinerary.

On the day you leave, we will be dropping the team off at Toulouse airport for 3 pm.

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 insurance?

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.

Will i need an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for this expedition?

As the trip is based in France it is also worth having a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as this “gives card holders the right to access state-provided healthcare on temporary stays in other European Economic Area (EEA) countries or Switzerland. Treatment should be provided on the same basis as it would be to a resident of that country and is provided either at reduced cost or, in many cases, for free. The EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until the card holder returns home. This includes treatment for pre-existing medical conditions.” If you don’t already have one, you can apply for one here and it is free.  Many travel insurers won’t cover your medical costs in the unlikely event that you need medical treatment whilst you are away which could have been covered by an EHIC.

Training

What training do we need for this if any?

Some fitness training is a good idea if you do not walk regularly in the mountains. Any cardio vascular training and hill work will stand you in good stead and make your holiday much more enjoyable.

Finance

What is your cancellation and refund policy?

Please read our terms and conditions careful before you depart. 360 Expeditions highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all expeditions. Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits we must adhere to a stringent refund policy.

Electronics

Will I be able to get WIFI along the way?

The refuges do not have WiFi due to remoteness.

You will be able to get WIFI at the Luchon based accommodation at the start and finish.

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.

Can I charge my camera / iPod in the mountains?

The refuge does have electricity so you will be able to plug things in to charge, but depending how busy the refuge is, you might find yourself competing for a socket with other guests.

Great instructors with extremely good teaching techniques – both have different styles of teaching/leading but i think the balance worked really well to increase my learning.

Jack Price, General, 2017
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