Saturday, 10 August 2013

Puigmal = Bad peak? Surely not


 As I was already in France, I decided to tackle Puigmal d’Err (if I am not mistaken, this translates as the ‘mistaken bad peak’ – hardly an inspiring name), which is usually known as Puigmal, from the French side. Puigmal is one of those peaks on the French/Spanish border and quite clearly a popular goal from both sides. 2909m, P1331 a lofty number 7 in the JMH Iberian prominence list – N42.38326 E2.11681 (see how I am gradually getting further east?)
It has a summit trigpoint and  both a French and Spanish cross – and I could tell the nationality of the people on the summit by which cross they chose to have their pictures taken.

There is a paved road up to the ski carpark at Station d’Err-Puigmal (1978m) N42.39099 E2.08380. The paved road continues past here, however not for unauthorised users as there is a locked barrier. At the first bend in the road past the barrier there is a piste that carries on by La Ribera d’Err that takes one into a large cwm with an eventual scree finish in a col (2714m) N42.39474 E2.11296. From the col it is a matter of following the international border over the summit of Petit Puigmal de Segre to Puigmal itself. Finding shelter from the breeze I ate my, by now, customary piece of bread and a large tomato, followed by an orange and a banana.

Puigmal alien
There were various acts of camera swapping and exchanges of Hola/Bonjour before heading off by an alternative descent route that involves following the border northwards for a while and then dropping quite steeply to meet the ascent route (2236m) at N42.38438 E2.09593. If you wish to ascend by this route backtrack slightly west when the path besides La Ribera d’Err meets the piste, that forms the continuation of the road from the ski-station.

However, I think that I went round the best way – the descent route I used would have been a bit of a chore as an ascent route.
One of the things that is amusing me is the numerous times I am asked about the right way – my tanned skin and dark glasses hiding my blue eyes must be fooling people into thinking I am local. I delight in explaining I am Anglais/Inglesi and then, if I do know the answer, surprise them with my slightly superior knowledge.

Eliza Doolittle
9.71km, 1821m total ascent

Overnight at La Molina (1655m)

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