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Vignemale or Pique Longue from the Petit Vignemale. Photo by ©Carmelo

 

VIGNEMALE OR PIQUE LONGUE

 

Sometimes we forget that stepping on the top of a mountain is just the icing on the cake.

 

All of us, when we plan an ascent, have the objective of reaching the summit but sometimes, for various reasons, this is not achieved and then we begin to doubt our capacity, our strength... and we become discouraged. My friend Carmelo was in this stadium when I proposed him to climb Vignemale. He said yes more out of pride than conviction, but I knew that as soon as he was among the mountains his doubts would be cleared and little by little the confidence that had left him at that moment would reappear. On 23rd August at midnight we left for Gavarnie and at nine o'clock in the morning from the d'Ossoue dam, 1834 m, we began to climb, through the fog, towards the Baysellance refuge, 2651 m, but with our fingers crossed that the weather forecast would be fulfilled, which predicted good weather.

Ossoue dam at 1834 m Photo ©CarmeloThe fog accompanies us a good part of the climb

At half height the sun was present and the clouds were below us forming a postcard image. Shortly after we arrived at the highest guarded refuge in the Pyrenees, and after formalizing our entrance and eating something we decided to climb the Petit Vignemale 3032 m.

Little by little we leave behind us the fog We're starting the climb to the Petit Vignemale. Photo ©Carmelo

We climb slowly enjoying every moment, stopping almost at every step to admire the landscape around us.

Panoramic view of the Ossoue Valley

Already in my colleague's eyes there is no doubt, only fullness and I would say happiness. We reach the summit and from there, calmly, unhurriedly, and with all the time in the world, we observe the path that tomorrow we will have to take to fulfill our objective.

Vignemale GlacierWe ascend the glacier towards the base of the Vignemale

At six in the morning, the alarm clock rings. After breakfast and having organized all the material, already during the day, we leave for the Vignemale, also called Pique Longue, Comachibosa, Villamala... etc. We descend by the same path that brought us to the refuge to find the entrance to the glacier, which we cross calmly, following the trail, as it is in perfect condition. 

Start of the climb to the summitClimbing with good grip but over very broken ground. Photo ©Carmelo

We arrive at the base of our objective where we prepare for a climb over broken ground with rock falls, which makes the use of a helmet essential. After a long climb, where rather than clinging to the rocks we have to float through them in order not to detach them, we tread on their summit located at 3,298 m.

 

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Hugs, congratulations and the usual photos, give way to a small intimate moment, you take a breath as you soak up the landscape around you leaving your mind blank, in that moment there is only the mountain and you.

 

View from the top of Vignemale or Pique Longue. Photo ©Carmelo

Now it's time to go down, and being aware that we have to keep our concentration since we are on unstable ground, we start the descent and once on the glacier we observe curious situations that could even be fun if we were not where we are...

A 10-person rope descending the glacier without crampons... Photo ©CarmeloDescent to the dam

We descend while admiring the views, which the road shows us today without fog, until we reach the river, where what we really want is to take a refreshing bath. But we both know that the end of the activity is not the summit, but our home and this is very far away. Already in the car, tired but happy, while we were planning the next activities that we could do together, I realize that the doubts and distrust in oneself with which a few hours ago my partner had arrived, had remained in the Vignemale forever.

 

 

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