WITH MIKE RHODES
This enjoyable walk follows mainly forestry tracks under the lofty summit of the Cambre D’Ase, with wonderful views over the Cerdagne and Capcir plateaux. Although it is possible to walk from the ski station at St Pierre del Forcats, it is much more enjoyable to take the chairlift to Pla du Cambre d’Ase.
The large car park at the ski station at St Pierre del Forcats is our starting point. (GPS 31N 427572E 4704037N Altitude 1655m) The walk is covered by map IGN2250ET, 1/25000 Bourg-Madame. Mont-Louis.
There is a café just above the car park which makes a good meeting point. It is best to enjoy this walk outside school holidays as the ski lift does tend to get very busy.
In the car park there is an office where you can buy a “pieton” lift pass. At the eastern end of the car park you will find the Telesiège del Mouli which we take up to the Pla du Cambre d’Ase at 1939m. Snow shoes must be held in your hands and only have one strap of your rucksack over your shoulder so that it can be carried on your knee.
After setting off on the lift ensure that the safety bar is lowered. For non skiers, getting off the lift is often tricky but on the Mouli lift you can see the arrival point a long time in advance.
Fifty meters from the hut, lift the safety bar and put one sac strap back over a shoulder. The chair will slow down giving you chance to get off but ensure that you exit quickly, straight ahead, as the chair will turn to your right.
Once out of the lift station, take a minute to look at the towering icy cliffs of the Cambre d’Ase 2750m, where you can often see climbers clinging to its icy slopes and even more scary, skiers descending its steep couloirs.
The Snowshoe walk
Look for the green ski piste sign “le plan ecole” which you follow to the left, staying to the RH edge of the piste.
After approx 50m we follow a forestry track to the right with superb panoramic views over the Cedagne, for 550m passing the teleski du Riu to a junction with a sign marked ‘vallée de Planès’.
We now leave the skiers behind and continue on the track towards Orri de Planes, passing the Rec del Moliè. The track is simple to follow and in winter, after a fresh snowfall, it is difficult to believe that cars could pas through the trees.
After 2 hours we reach the end of the forestry track at a clearing where horses and cows are herded in spring and autumn. The signs indicate that you go left but we take a track to the right, through a small gate and up out of the trees to a clear area at 1980m GPS 31N 430211E 4701989N, where you will also see a signpost indicating Planès to the left and the Orri to the right.
To the right you have the steep cliffs of the Mallaza and the back of the Cambre d’Ase. These slopes are very avalanche prone and care should be taken if you decide to walk more than a further 300m up the valley. To do so would require stable snow conditions and an experienced guide!
Follow the valley to the south for a few hundred meters to find a good picnic spot in the sun, with great views and a very remote feeling. After lunch retrace your steps to the signpost at 1980m and instead of following our ascent tracks continue N following the summer path and way marks where visible, descending gradually to a junction at 1845m GPS 31N 429956E 4703205N, taking the path to the L descending to another forestry track.
From here there are two options:
1. Turn left and follow the track S to a bend and summer parking area. Continue on the track following signs for St Pierre until you arrive once again at the ski pistes which you follow back to the car park.
2. Turn R and follow the track a short distance until a sign takes you down L into the forest, crossing a stream and up the other side to a path whi9ch we follow straight down through the forest for 850m until just above Planes at 1630m.
Follow the level track to the left for 450m until a track, GR36, for the ski station climbs up to the L. Follow this track all the way back to St Pierre ski station. For adventurous walkers there are a variety of trails crossing the hillside offering different routes to and from L’Orri de Planes.
After this walk why not try one of the local thermal spas at Bain de Llo, Dorres or St Thomas de Bain. This is a great walk for observing animal tracks so invest in a good book and try and identify the tracks of deer, wild boar, pine martin, marmot and mice.
|Mike Rhodes is an International Mountain Leader / Accompanateur de Montagne, lives all year in Les Angles and specialises in guided walks in the high mountains and Snowshoe trips in winter. He can be contacted on 0033(0)468043728 email: firstname.lastname@example.org web site:www.pyrenean-trails.com|