Plan de Montmajou-Sommet de Prat-Pardin from Artigue

A fantastic ridge walk !!

Plan de Montmajou – Sommet de Prat-Pardin, out and back along the ridge which marks the border with Spain, from the village of Artigue.

Route details and GPX track:

A gentle ascent via the GR10 from Artigue (mandatory car park just before the entrance of the village) to the foot of the Plan de Montmajou (2081m), via the Cabane de Saunères, then straight up to the top; next I followed the ridge which marks the boundary between Spain and France in a southbound direction, to the Sommet de Prat Pardin (1982m) via two minor tops. Return along the ridge and along the SW slopes of the Plan de Montmajou to rejoin the GR10.

The views over the northern part of the Vallée de Luchon. The village of Artigue is below to the left of the pic.

Difficulties: no technical difficulty on this route in summer conditions. Unmarked trails from the final pull up the Plan de Montmajou. The route finding is obvious as far as the Plan de Montmajou, and pretty obvious along the ridge too. On the way back, contouring the Plan de Montmajou requires a bit of caution: make sure you re-climb ca. 50-60m so as to avoid a rocky outcrop (“les Garraspes” on the IGN 1:25000 map), before dropping down to the Cabane de Peyrehitte, which is only two minutes away from the GR10.

Amazing views over the Maladeta Massif and the Pico de Aneto, highpoint of the Pyrenees at 3404m, from the GR10.
The Cabane de Saunères overlooks the town of Luchon and offers a spectacular vista over the Maladeta and Perdiguère +3000m massifs.
After the Cabane de Saunères, the GR10 rises gently across the pastures and beneath a rocky ridge towards the Plan de Montmajou.
A wide, flattish area offers a bit of respite before the final pull up the Plan de Montmajou (centre-right). Left in the distance stands the Pic de Bacanère (2193m), highpoint of the eponymous massif.
The beautiful views over the Pic de Bacanère from the featureless summit of the Plan de Montmajou.

If you have enough time and energy and if the weather allows, I’d recommend you continued to the two summits S of the Sommet de Prat-Pardin, the Plan de la Serre (2018m) and Tuc de Bidur (2019m) -adding a mere 3km and 150m height gain out and back. It is also possible to complete a loop walk, dropping down SW from the Col de Hont Hérède, S of the Tuc de Bidur, and following the trails along the slopes, either to rejoin the Cabane de Saunères, where you can pick the GR10, or directly to Artigue from the S.

Looking over the Spanish side of the ridge. Here the Garonne Valley cuts through the mountains as it enters Spain. In the distance to the left one can spot the mighty Pic de Maubermé (2880m). Our route follows the ridge to the right of this pic (cf. also first pic).
A close-up of a glider flying around our final peak of the day, the Sommet de Prat-Pardin (1982m).
Beyond the Sommet de Prat-Pardin, the breathtaking Aneto/Maladeta massif.
Another close-up on a glider, with the town of Luchon in the distance.
The Malh de Bessons (aka. Cap de Bédourat, 1945m) and Tuc des Trois Courets (1949m) are two minor tops along the ridge which are worth the detour and can easily be contoured on the way back. Here are the views ENE from the top of the latter, over the Cap des Agudes (1676m) and its beautiful autumn colours. In the distance, the fantastic Crabère-Maubermé ridge also marks the boundary between France and Spain.
Looking down over the E ridge of the Tuc des Trois Courets from its summit. Autumn is arguably the best time of the year for this hike.
Looking back at the ridge, with the Plan de Montmajou to the left. Beyond stands the beautiful Pic de Bacanère.
Blinding sunlight at the top of the Sommet de Prat-Pardin, and a superb vista over the Aneto-Maladeta and Perdiguère massifs.

29th October 2019 summary:

Perfect weather conditions, excellent visibility (apart from the blinding sun), panoramic views from the car park at the entrance of the little village of Artigue, near Luchon, which became absolutely stunning once I reached the top of the ridge, expanding from the Pic de Maubermé to the Pic du Midi de Bigorre, with the breathtaking Aneto/Maladeta massif and the +3000m peaks of the Luchonnais/Perdiguère massif looking really close, a breathtaking scenery enhanced by the presence of snow above ca. 2500m and the fantastic autumn colours !! 😍 Add a few griffon vultures and a couple of alpine choughs flying by, gliders passing only a few tens of metres over my head (!!), deer still rutting on the Spanish side, a small group of deer spotted on the way down, plus a friendly encounter during the first part of the ascent with a lady who lives in the area, and you have all the ingredients for a perfect day out in the mountains !! The only downside was, it got too cloudy at the end of the day, meaning no beautiful sunset to enjoy.

The Serrat de Créspés bathed in the late afternoon sunlight. This is the ridge I followed out and back, between the Cabane de Saunères (which can be spotted in the centre of this photo) and the Plan de Montmajou.
A glider and autumn colours, with the Cabane de Saunères on the top of the pic.
As I leave the Sommet de Prat-Pardin the weather turns cloudy, only letting a few rays of sunlight to peer through.
The Tuc des Trois Courets and Malh de Bessons are easily contoured on the way back.
The Plan de Montmajou can easily be contoured as well. As you make your way across the SW slopes, just make sure you gain some 50/60m as to reach the upper part of the rocky outcrop in the centre of the pic.

18.5km, total height gain 1140m, 7h15.

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