Ascent of Pic Vignemale on 1983-07-29

Climber: Frederick Johnson

Others in Party:Guide Philippe Blanche and a
dozen or so other French climbers
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, July 29, 1983
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Pic Vignemale
    Elevation:10823 ft / 3298 m

Ascent Trip Report

Pic Vignemale (aka Pic Longue) is the highest peak of the French Pyrenees and as such is one of the most popular. Henri Cazaux and Bernard Guillembert made the first ascent in 1837

Arriving at Gavarnie (4,480'), I arranged at the local guide office to join a group that was scheduled to climb the peak tomorrow,July 29. From the carpark at the Barrage d'Ossoue (6,020') 5 miles outside town, I hiked about 4 miles up to the Refuge de Beyssellance (8,703'), where I met the leader, Philippe Blanche, and the dozen or so others in the climbing group. All except me were French. Philippe spoke good English, but it was hard to communicate with the others because of the language barrier, although we were all very friendly during the climb. This morning we first descended several hundred feet on the trail to Gavarnie past Russell's grottoes, then connected with the path that crosses below the Crete du Petit Vignemale to the Glacier d'Ossoue and the well traveled "voie normale," following the first-ascent route over the glacier, up gently angled slabs of rather loose rock to the frontier ridge, and then up a few meters onto the summit. The snow was firm on the ascent, but crampons were not needed, and we descended before the snow turned soft by mid-day. However, ice-axes and a rope were needed crossing the glacier. A beautiful day, conducive to a leisurely summit stay, with
marvelous views, particularly down onto the North Face and the grassy plain of the Oulettes de Gaube far below. On returning to the refuge, I left the group and enjoyed a solitary descent to the trailhead
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2887 ft / 879 m
    Extra Gain:381 ft / 116 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4.3 mi / 7 km
    Route:Glacier d'Ossoue
    Trailhead:Refuge Bayssellance  8698 ft / 2651 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2+
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Rope, Guide, Hut Camp
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes

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