The Pyrenees are the largest mountain range in France and I have waited a long time before setting out on an adventure across it. Maybe because I grew up in the Alps, or maybe because I was afraid of the terrain...
Day 1. Hendaye beach July 11th.
Here is the map of the route, mostly in Spain, mostly on the GR11. A classic hiking route.
On July 11, I started the traverse. I knew I had 800 kilometers ahead of me and some big mountains. I didn't have a specific number of days I needed to do the crossing in, although I wanted to do it as quickly as I could. My legs were feeling good and I was in harmony with the mountains, and I followed the GR10 and than GR11 in Spain for the most part.
I was moving fast, trying to camp some nights and having good weather. Around the middle, I knew my pace was good and I could make it under 12 days, so I kept that in mind despite the huge days and difficulties. Finally, moving strong and keeping good rhythm I made it in 10 days, with a huge last day to the beach after 4,400 meters of elevation.
This adventure was a great discovery for me. I found the Spanish Pyrenees tremendous and authentic. But I have to say that the trails were the roughest I have ever seen. Doing a mountain range crossing is always complicated by trail quality. Often the crossing doesn't take the best trail but it's the only solution to really cross the range... This is also the beauty of a crossing - accepting the mountain as it is and finding your own path.
The adventure started in the beautiful Basque Country where it's all about greenery, white houses and wild horses. Than I crossed the Aragon region with rough and wild mountains before stepping into Catalonia. My route, the classic GR11, crossed Andorra and the rough mountains before going back to Catalonia and finishing in France with the spectacular landscape of high ridgelines and eventually the sea. An incredible journey through an awesome country.
Totalling 811 kilometers and 32,290 meters of climbing in 10 days, the trip was a hard one. But I love to ride this way, light and fast on rough terrain. Where the disciplines are blurred and you're riding some serious traverses on an enduro bike, but also doing some bikepacking. I just love mountain biking in the end.
The trip put me back to the time I was a child, wondering what was behind the mountains. The child in me is still there.
Vive La Vie!
For a beast of a trip you need a beast of a bike. Rocky Mountain Instinct BC edition, Mavic XA wheels and 1.5kg extra luggage.
Day 1 On the Rhune summit, iconic summit of the Basque Country.
Day 2 Izaba village in beautiful Basque Country.
Day 3 before Aguas Tuertas.
Day 3 was one of the first serious climbs up to Estaens lake.
Pyrenees are full of lakes and peaks, beautiful and wild.
Day 3 on top of Formigal.
Day 3 with my own 1942s bunker for the night.
Do you like rocky trails?
Day 4 in the Panticosa downhill.
Day 4 downhill back to the valley.
Day 5 Grey trail to Sircues.
Day 5 At the Monte Perdido National Parc.
Day 6 Hiking in the rain to some high passes.
Day 8 before Pomapedrosa pass.
Day 8 Pomapedrosa pass to enter Andorra. Rough and steep.
Day 9 Always stoked to sleep in weird places!
Day 10 in the rock shelter.
Day 10 on the ridgeline heading to the sea. Or not?
Day 10, Banyuls beach, a little more tired.