Ascent of Pic du Midi d’Ossau on 2013-07-16

Climber: Martin Richardson

Date:Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Pic du Midi d’Ossau
    Elevation:9462 ft / 2884 m

Ascent Trip Report

For pictures and context, see my blog 'Went up a hill and came down' at:
Pic du Midi d’Ossau>

Extract of text from my blog:
The hardest part of the climb up to the Pic du Midi d’Ossau is at the point where walking turns to scrambling and walking poles have to be put away. Marked on the map as the 1ere cheminee it is not easy to find N42.84539 W0.43114 (2315m). A couple of French women ... As I was getting near to the scramble in the rain that had started as I reached Col de Suzon, they were coming back down. They said they could not find the route and, anyway, the rock was too slippy because of the rain. I decided to have a look, anyway. And they were right. However, I decided to wait and see, maybe it would stop raining, maybe the sun would soon dry off the rock and maybe I could find the route.
The path is obvious up to the cheminee.
The worn path then seems to go to the left and right but not up.
There is a little evidence of previous feet in several places but none of them seemed promising – least of all the cheminee which had the least signs of wear.
So I tried the narrow chimney.
Part way up a large rock has fallen and got wedged – and it blocks the way. Whilst wet, I did not fancy trying to clamber past. ... The rain ceased, the rock began to dry.
The previous evening I had been told
...the key was finding the metal peg in the slab of rock.
I had another look at the cheminee, scrabbled inelegantly over the blocking rock and then I found the peg high up a large slab.
There was the remains of a peg that had been inserted at the bottom of the slab and this would have meant it was relatively easy shimmy up the slab. I had a go but could not figure where to put one foot to push up high enough to get my other foot on the peg. I tried again. Eventually I somehow managed to get my foot on the peg and grip the top of the slab and stumble up. From the slab there is a scrappy bit of rock with a boulder blocking the way at the top – the boulder has several belay slings on it – so hoping that at least one of them would hold my weight I used them to help me get around the boulder.
From thereon the climb is very steep, with the occasional bit of exposure and lots of small stones on narrow ledges to make it feel unsafe but it is not overly difficult as long as you keep to the route. There is even one or two more helpful pegs. I confess I lost the route for a while and ended up scrambling up some rather dodgy looking rocks. I found the route again by heading for a cross on top of one of the Pointes.
And, I was in luck the clouds cleared enough and long enough for me to get a spectacular view when I finally reached the twin summits – the Puente de France and the Puente d’Espagne, which is the true summit. And I had the whole mountain to myself – except for a few Alpine Chough and a mouse that ran across the summit, near my feet.

As I was slipping and sliding down the 3eme cheminee there was an ominous single clap of thunder. I was already going as fast as I dared in the terrain so there was nothing I could do to beat the storm, if it came. I found the correct route down from the cross – it was only marginally better than the one I had used. I spotted where I had gone wrong – someone had built a little wall to discourage people going on the wrong path and I had obviously stepped over it without seeing it on the ascent.
Then came the 1ere cheminee. Those belay slings didn’t seem as useful as on the ascent. The pegged slab was dealt with by sliding and hoping that I could stop myself falling too far down the rest of the cheminee, the blocking rock was dealt with inelegantly again. And there was me and a Gryphon vulture on the ridge back down to Col de Suzon N42.84704 W0.42352 (2119m) and the walk back to the refuge for a bowl of mint tea, before following the easy trail back over the Col de Soum de Pombie N42.82654 W0.42577 (2099m)to the start in the Col de Portalet/Cabane de l’Araille N42.81559 W0.41740 (1734m)

What a fabulous mountain - one of my favourites of all time.
Summary Total Data
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Martin Richardson
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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