Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Puy de Sancy on a sunny Sunday


Approaching the Le Monts Dore, Auvergne from the east it was difficult to believe that one of them could be an Ultra, it just didn’t look big enough. However, from the north in the large ski-resort of Mont-Dore it looked a bit more promising that extinct volcano Puy de Sancy 1885m at N45.52821 E2.81402 could be P1578 and hence making it an Ultra.
I parked just before the Station du Sancy at (1291m) N45.54356 E2.81784 to avoid having to pay for parking in the station car park. From the station I walked briskly up the ski piste, the Chemin du Sancy – I have driven along worse pistes – that zigzags quickly up the mountain side. At a col at about (1660m) N45.53254 E2.82122 I turned left to go to a higher col below the summit to its east. By now there was a constant stream of people coming the opposite way.

You may be pleased to know that I did not cheat by using the Telepherique skilift to ascend this hill – however, thousands of others did (and do). I will let my summit photo sum up what it was like up there. 

Puy de Sancy summit
Just below the summit

On the descent route to the west the path has been replaced by wooden steps with that really irritating thing of being unevenly spaced so that it is impossible to set up a rhythm, even if you could move faster because of the other people in the way. I avoided going to the upper skilift station because it would have been uneven wooden steps all the way.

The Telepherique top station - and below, the carpark

I carried on over the tops of Puy Redon and Puy de Cliergue – which I discovered have been given the dubious honour of having separate listings on Peakbagger, despite their limited prominence. Many of the people I met on this stretch were clearly wearing inappropriate footwear for the path – the following photos shows the consequence for one of them.

The  normal descent route on the west side
At Puy de Cliergue I decided to avoid backtracking to use an alternative descent route to the start by doing something obviously unorthodox and, possibly, heretical. I left the path and yomped down a steep vegetated slope that ended with a line of crags above the carpark area. I did not find the best way down from, I realised in retrospect – but I found a way down that was not too desperate and I did not end up cragfast. At least, it was more interesting than walking in line with a queue of people - and no-one saying 'Bonjour'

At the foot there were signs saying that rock climbing was ‘interdite’ and it could result in a fine of up to 750 Euros – my defence would have been:
1. I did not see the sign until afterwards (I know that ignorance is not a defence)
2. I wasn’t climbing, I was descending (mmm?)
3. I was trying to avoid the rock.

Good job I didn’t get caught really.

9.43km, 1042m total ascent.

I decided to give the Puy de Dome a miss because it too looked like it would be desperately crowded and I resisted the temptation of the amusingly named Puy de Peyre Arse. So, that's it Puy de Sancy turned out to be the final mountain of the trip - nice to finish on an Ultra - shame about the crowds.

New boots three months ago - need resoling, now
Overnight at L’Eclerc centre, Coulanges-Les-Nevers (211m – is that the sea I can hear lapping at the door?)

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