Ascent of Pierre-sur-Haute on 2012-11-14

Climber: Lee Newton

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
    Elevation:5361 ft / 1634 m

Ascent Trip Report

On a work trip driving from Lyon to Clermont Ferrand I took the slow road over the hills and arrived at the Col de Béal at dusk. The tower atop Pierre sur Haute had been visible from the motorway, 45 minutes drive away, and I was interested to see if the true summit was accessible since it is inside a military compound and I had read conflicting reports.

Setting off briskly along the GR3 I followed the ridgeline and soon topped out on a little summit giving a nice view of Pierre sur Haute in the red coloured sunset light. A short descent, reascent and further descent left me (after 2.5km walking) at a junction between the path and the tarmac road which serves the summit compound. There was just enough light to allow me to stick to the GR3 until reaching the fenced summit compound which is (according to a signboard) one of 3 radio communication stations allowing the army to stay in touch with each other independent of any other grid.

The gate was actually wide open but there were several lights on in the buildings and I didn't want to draw attention to my plans too early. Instead I continued on the GR3 which passes the compound to the west (right hand side). It was already obvious that the fence, while high, was not designed to keep people out, being constructed of large wooden beams with a significant gap underneath and in between. Upon reaching the far (south side) of the compound I ascended east up rough ground until I reached the ridgeline. The trig was only 20m inside the fence. By this point it was almost fully dark so I slipped underneath the fence and visited the trig on a large concrete plinth (no fluch bracket or number evident). There was also a sizeable cross on another plinth slightly further east, and in between the two probably the highest ground, albeit slightly overtopped by a nearby building. There were lights on and signs of activity in the nearest building so I slipped out again the way I came and made my way (now in full darkness) along the access road back tot he col.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1031 ft / 314 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1031 ft / 314 m
    Round-Trip Distance:6.2 mi / 10 km
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Clear
Dusk ascent
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1031 ft / 314 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 801 ft / 245 m; Extra: 230 ft / 70m
    Loss on way in:230 ft / 70 m
    Distance:3.1 mi / 5 km
    Start Trailhead:Col de Béal  4560 ft / 1389 m
    Time:1 Hours 10 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:801 ft / 244 m
    Distance:3.1 mi / 5 km
    End Trailhead:Col de Béal  4560 ft / 1389 m
    Time:1 Hours 

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