Climbing in the Aure Valley

by Cédric CONCHON

Here’s a subject close to my heart. With a controlled breath, a taut rope and a rough, uneven wall, climbing is for me a space of freedom and remains an emblematic practice of the mountains. As a kid, I already had the urge to climb everywhere. Trees, rocks, it didn’t take much to find a playground. Today, it’s to the sound of quickdraws clattering against my side that I like to take my friends to let off steam on the walls of the Aure valley.

A valley

ideal for climbing

I won’t hide the fact that the Aure valley is ideal for this activity. Various sites are scattered all along the valley from Lannemezan to the Spanish border and beyond. To help you find your way around, a Topo guide has been written by climbers, volunteers and mountain guides, with the aim of referencing the different routes and making the practice more sustainable. By purchasing this Topo guide you will be contributing to the maintenance of the cliff equipment.

For my part I bought it from an equipment manufacturer in the center of Saint Lary Soulan. If you don’t like walking for hours on end but are looking for a sporting activity to start a fitness regime in the fresh air, I suggest two easily accessible and climbable crags to get you started. One is in Piau Engaly, the other in Cadéac. You can practice individually, depending on your skills and abilities, or under the supervision of a professional. The latter allows you to progress more quickly in complete safety.

Piau Engaly

At the entrance to the resort, at the first traffic circle access the “parking P1” (Tip: park at the very back to avoid walking too far). Set off on foot in the direction of the Badet valley, with the school rock on your right. Thanks to its curves, this natural rock can be used to introduce children and adults alike to the basics of rock climbing. You can round off your day with a hike in the Vallée du Badet. Climbing, like skiing, has a range of difficulty ratings, from the easiest 3-4 to the hardest 8c-9a. At Piau-Engaly, 10 routes are on offer, ranging from 3 to 5a-5b.

First contact with a rock face is always a special moment, when emotions run high: excitement, fear, concentration. Beyond practice, it can be a search for serenity, calm, somehow being at one with yourself and knowing how far you can go. Once you’ve reached the top, you’re delivered – the moment you’ve been waiting for, with a sense of pride and achievement. You’ll also learn to trust someone, because you’ll never climb alone… Whoever assures you is committed to making this moment safe. The walls are freely accessible to all, but it remains a dangerous activity that requires appropriate preparation in terms of equipment, handling and knowledge of the practice.

Valley players will be able to advise and/or accompany you.

beyrede-escalade, Aure vertical, Bureau des guides, etc.

Accessible to children
Discover the flora and fauna

Cadéac Les Bains

Located on the road before Saint Lary Soulan, this village is less busy thanks to the recently opened bypass. At the fountain opposite the church, head for the 13th-century Tour de Guet. The view is not to be missed!

Park next to the cemetery and take the path rising to the right, then quickly take the path on the right to the cliff. It’s a 5-minute walk from the cemetery, enough to warm up your legs! This spot, hidden by the forest, gives you plenty of shade, but it’s also great for solitude, as the site is new and little used. The level rises with routes from 5a to 6c over a maximum height of 25 meters, enough to have fun all year round…

Other sites

For climbing

Other well-known natural sites such as Péne Haute, Suberpéne, Grézian etc….not forgetting Spain with Bielsa, Las Devotas etc…are also accessible for more thrills.

Cliff climbing is different from indoor climbing. You can feel the stone warmed by the sun, be in the fresh air while admiring the landscape. Only the weather isn’t always on your side in which case you’re lucky in the Aure valley to be able to practice indoor climbing. The climbing gym is located at Beyréde-Jumet, just outside Sarrancolin. You can practice on artificial climbing structures or S-A-E. The climbing club offers open days, but you can contact it all year round.

Activities derived from climbing (which use the same equipment”) can be practised in the Aure valley or in Spain: Canyoning, Via Ferrata, Accrobranche…

Good Climbing!