Ski touring

Natural skiing!

Winter is coming to an end soon and, obviously, with the depth of snow still present, we’ll be able to put in some extra hours of skiing. Perfect! We’re off to Pic du Portarras and Pic Prada


With an anticyclone lingering over the country…we’re looking for motivated people and it’s in the company of Marie and Guillaume that we’re off ski touring.

By Maxime Soulleys

A sure thing

the Lavedan valley
A classic

From Saint-Lary, one of the most popular ski touring destinations is the Lavedan valley*. We have to get up early, as the heat of the day quickly transforms the snow (avalanches) and the hike promises to be a long one: we set off towards the classic Portarras and Pic Prada.

Early in the morning at the Granges de Lurgues (1365m) sun and heat are well and truly on the cards. We put on the sun cream, load the bags and off we go for what promises to be a magnificent day in the Aulon regional nature reserve.
Thankfully the portage is short and we quickly get down to business, putting on the touring skis and skins (anti-backwards fluff). We head for the cabane d’Auloueilh, overlooked by l’Arbizon (to the right, north) and the imposing Pic Mail, which we skirt to the left (take care not to hang around at its foot, as its couloirs purge very easily).

After a good hour, we catch sight of the cabane d’Auloueilh (1853m) and, above all, the immense playground that is about to offer itself to our spatulas. A wide, gently sloping valley, dotted with pine trees and a multitude of terrain movements, bumps, combes…in short, a joy to climb and descend.

*not to be confused with the Vallée des Gaves in the Hautes-Pyrénées, which runs from Ayzac-Ost to Cauterets.

Facing the Pic du Midi

Absolute freedom

We continue our ascent, leaving the hut behind us; it’s in this silent, wild environment that the mountain seems at its most beautiful. As we move along, the landscape changes, we pass the small frozen lake of Portarras (2187m) to find ourselves in front of the grand pic Bastan d’Aulon (2710m). Last climb in a vast snow-covered pale with the Pic Prada(2712m) in our sights.


Magical viewpoint:

Phew! after 1350m of ascent we arrive at Pic Prada, where we’re greeted by the Pic du Midi which magically appears once we’ve reached the summit. The scenery is exceptional, a 360° view over the entire Pyrenean range prompts us to play “what’s the name of this mountain?”. Time to catch our breath and we’re off again towards the pic de Portarras (2697m) just next door and a little further down on the left towards the west.

The descent:

It’s windy, it’s not hot on the summits, it’s time to head back down. The sun is beating down, it’s already 1pm and the snow is perfect, the ice has given way to a light layer of slush. It’s like skiing on carpet.

Between rocks, pine trees, a banked turn, then a small combe, a steep couloir…these slopes are a magnificent playground accessible to all. We start water-skiing below the Auloueilh hut, the snow getting heavy and tricky (but it’s still quicker than going down on foot).

And finally...

To sum up

A superb hike in a very wild and varied environment (it’s easy to see why it’s a classic), although technically easy it’s still a long hike with a good vertical drop (1350m). Topos of the hike can easily be found on the Internet or in various guidebooks.



of moments to experience