Comfortable shoes but can also be quite accurate, they generally feature three to four hooks, an inclined collar forward but without excess and cozy slipper, all with flex from 80 to 120/130. Shoes do everything for skiers not too sporty, which is not pejorative.
These shoes show all the ingredients of high-end footwear dedicated to the track but with some specificities like a necklace less inclined forward, the damper areas to absorb the shock and sometimes a detachable collar. Flex high, two to four hooks and skid areas under the sole in order to walk a little mountain skis on the shoulder.
These shoes, evolving in recent years, are made of a lightweight plastic, with a detachable collar and turn out as clean as possible so that the weight gain is effective. Two versions exist: those with Low-tec inserts, or not. The sense of history is to go to these inserts, better equip on at least if you intended to walk.Weight generally between 1.5 and 1.7 kg per foot. Flex around 110.
These shoes quite right necklace to address neutrally modules in switch or not, offer a medium flex to accompany the receptions without doing too much hard points. With large areas underfoot cushioning to absorb the impact, they have usually two or three hooks and must combine precision and comfort. Flex around 110.
shoes looked very forward and high priority to the support of the tibia on the tongue, they are simple and rigid but also near the foot for optimal support transfer. Thin shells, armed with a thin liner, they all have four hooks and a large straps. Meta in width 98 to 100 mm.
These shoes have a mission: to be light! Built with special plastics, with a detachable collar and largely compulsorily equipped Low-tec inserts and a lugged sole, they make the economy any frills. Beyond the figure for the Flex is its poor progressivity changing the habits of alpine skiers and a not always keeping on top although enormous progress has been made on this point. Weight 1.3 kg and 1 foot.
Extreme shoes, often in carbon, they look more like running shoes or Nordic skiing at the ski pumps!Incredibly thin and light, they can release their full collar, very low indeed, and allow owners of skis matches to rally the tops in small strides. For comfort as for driving precision, we must board but that is not the point. With these extreme skis, impossible to place a support to make a curve. So much have the tidy ankle and transform the pleasure of skiing in a hostile environment survival stage … Once again, the pleasure that is worth in the race is to be in front!
These specific shoes have flexible features adapted to the practice of genuflection: rigid side, soft on the axis but also sports a beautiful appendage toe shoes for fixing. Quite fine and precise, with a detachable collar, they allow the march with or without skins.
Jérémie COINON shares his skiing and mountaineering outing at the Swan corridor at the Cirque de Gavarnie in the Pyrenees and the list of mountaineering equipment used.
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The swan corridor at the last light of day
Presentation of the ski and mountaineering outing at the Swan corridor
From 1 st to May 2, 2016
Circus of Gavarnie, Hautes Pyrénées
Map of the Cirque de Gavarnie
To go there :
By car from Le Pau: Take the direction of Argelès Gazost then Luz Saint Sauveur. Go up the valley which passes through Gèdre then finishes in Gavarnie. Parking on one of the car parks provided for the occasion.
Attention: Car parks pay at Gavarnie, from 2 to 4 € per day depending on the car park. Moreover, during the summer period, access to the village by car is prohibited from 8 am to 7 pm. No problem in winter and spring, parking is deserted!
For a better ride and save money, do not forget carpooling.
Jeremiah, William and Alex. Three buddies from CAF Bayonne, motivated by anything that touches the mountain, whether it be skis on foot, climbing shoes or a pair of hiking shoes. After having a few bamboos together during the winter, this new project appeared obvious to our rope!
Initially motivated for skiing and mountaineering in the Pyrenees
Gavarnie: There are many housing units in Gavarnie, but not necessarily cheap. For the small budgets, prefer thecamping “Le pain de sucre”.
During the hike, there are several possibilities to sleep and lengthen the number of days:
- La Cabane de Pailla: Situated under the Refuge des Espuguettes, this rustic cabin has a 2 or 3-seater mattress.Bring down a duvet and make food. A little rough in winter, prefer the refuge of Espuguettes.
- The refuge of Espuguettes: Place where we left. Not kept in winter, but with comfortable beds and a living room in the winter. It makes it possible to limit the level difference for the approach of the corridor.
- The shelter of Tucquerouye: Located in the breach of the same name, this shelter enjoys a breathtaking panorama on the north face of the lost mountain. You MUST spend a night there. The access requires a little attention, the corridors being stiff from one side of the breach to the other. The shelter, also rustic, has a kitchen corner (tables) and a sleeping area for 9 people. Attention, some beautiful summer weekends, the refuge is taken by assault. You will then have to sleep on the floor. So prefer the inter seasons (spring / autumn) to enjoy the beautiful lights and be quiet. In winter, take crampons and ice axes, the access is steep!
- The shelter embedded in the breach of the same name
Eat / buy
- There are supermarkets in Gavarnie to replenish.But if you want to keep your money to buy new piolets , fill up before going up in the mountains, whether in Pau, Lourdes or Luz Saint Sauveur. And after your hike, one of the many bars of Gavarnie will welcome you for a well deserved beer.
- Amountaineering / ski touring outing for 1 and a half days to the Gavarnie Circus, combining the ascension of the Swan corridor (AD, 450m), the Grand Astazou (3071m) and a return by the Tucquerouye breach and the Pailla hula.
- Magnificent views of the Piméné, the north face of Mont Perdu and the Cylindre du Marboré.
Circus card of Gavarnie
High altitude winter terrain, snow, ice and rocks are on the menu. Add to this a good vertical drop, many exposed passages and a long race to return.
Attention, itinerary intended for the experienced people having the habit of the high mountain.
Day 1: Gavarnie – Refuge des Espuguettes: Approach takes place in 2 small hours in the evening in anticipation of the race the next day.
Day 2: Refuge des Espuguettes – Swan corridor – Grand Astazou – Tucquerouye hut _ Paillé hoop – Gavarnie: 12 hours of racing (crampons / ice axes / skis) without trains with exposed passages and long climbs with ski and crampons.
Village of departure and return: Gavarnie
The village of Gavarnie and its circus, classified in the world heritage of the Unesco, is a site impossible to circumvent of the Pyrenees. This wall which rises over 1000m of unevenness forms a grandiose circus whose atmosphere is enhanced by the waterfall that flows from the top of the circus. Whether in the summer or in the winter, there is plenty to do in the area (climbing, mountaineering, hiking, skiing …) and are all an opportunity to discover this magnificent landscape.
Attention to the hiker who arrives in Gavarnie between 14 July and 15 August, he will not be alone!
- Price: The hike costs nothing (except calories!).On the other hand it is necessary to provide its material, enough to feed and to move.
- Vegetation: In this period and according to the altitude, the landscape is a large white snowboard, dotted here and there with rocks.The high mountain in winter!
- Wildlife: If you are lucky you can spot some isards and some marmots in the area.
- Climate of the weekend: Big blue all day, enough to make the most of the landscapes that surround us.Do not forget the sunscreen.
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Attendance: Only during the two days.We just crossed two mountaineers at the refuge of Espuguettes on our return from the ascent.
What else in the area
If you plan a week or more in the corner, there’s plenty to do in terms of hiking, to mountain skiing, climbing ormountaineering.
Ski resort : The resort of Gavarnie, located on the heights of the village, offers quality skiing away from the crowds of the big resorts. Further down the valley, the Luz Saint Sauveur resort offers beautiful slopes also
Ski touring: For those who want to put the skins to go exploring, you only have to look up to find a multitude ofpeaks to climb, in all styles and levels. Beautiful raids can be attempted around Gavarnie, and the Vignemale or the Munia can be the objectives of a beautiful race over several days.
Ski touring under the Taillon
Mountain activities: Gavarnie is a kingdom of the mountain. Climbing, big track , mountaineering, ice climbing,hiking. It will take you a while before you get tired.
Since Gèdre the winter climb of the Maou peak by the Estibère male is a beautiful race
And if it rains: Take your climbing slippers, the small room of Gèdre is very well equipped and the tracks arebeautiful.
Others: Once your legs are heavy and your face reddened by the sun, go for a walk in the Thermes de Luz-Saint-Sauveur. The water that flows naturally warm will do you the greatest good and will give you an attack for the next day.
Bibliography on the Swan corridor
Ski touring in the Hautes Pyrenees: Frédéric Cabot, Rando éditions, 2009. Very good ski touring. As they say in bookstores “if there is one to have, that’s it.” There are more than 60 itineraries, from the easiest to the most difficult.The most complicated after: make your choice.
Internet links on the Swan Corridor
Camptocamp : THE reference for preparing your mountain outings. A very active collaborative site and extremely well done.
Tourist Office of Gavarnie: To prepare your stay.
Skiing and Mountaineering at the Swan Corridor
The good sign, the good niche, the good buddies
The Swan corridor in the late afternoon
The Swan Corridor! The name of this mythical race resonates in my head since I started to travel the Pyrenees in 2010, first hiking then later mountaineering. A beautiful line, straight and without detours which leaves at more than 3000m between two beautiful peaks of Gavarnie. An accessible itinerary but requiring a good physical condition and some experience of the mountain. Many times, passing at the foot of this corridor, I looked at him, sometimes dreading it, sometimes dreaming of putting my ice-axes there . But the time had not yet arrived.
Before the release
April 28, 2016: Taking advantage of a niche of beautiful days, we went to make Mount Perdu by its North face. It is only along the course of the race that we will benefit from dantesque conditions and a breathtaking panorama. So when we go downstairs we pass under the swan corridor, we think that it is waiting for us, that is the time to go …
Ascension of the north face of Mount Perdu above the sea of clouds
Saturday 30 April 2016: It has snowed this weekend but the weather on Sunday and Monday looks nice. It’s time.The project I have in mind for a few years can be tried. Climb the swan corridor with the skis in the back and then descend by the south face of the great Astazou, then the breach of Tucquerouye. A long but beautiful and wild route. I call Guillaume to confirm his availability. And Alex to whom I talked about the project will join us. Three of us will try this route. The appointment is given Sunday night at the motorway exit of Pau, and there is only one day left to wax the skis and sharpen the ice axes.
Sunday , May 1st , it’s Labor Day … but not rest. It’s 9pm when we get to Gavarnie. Two Spaniards parked in the same place seem to return from the refuge. We ask them about the conditions at the top:
- Malas condiciones!Avalanchoso y nieve ayer!
Aye, and say that the conditions were perfect three days ago. But good, as long as to be here, as much go to make a tour on the spot to realize by the conditions themselves. If they are not good we will revise our goal, the tops are not lacking here!
Direction the refuge
We load the bags on the back with the evening objective in mind: join the refuge of Espuguettes to spend the night in order to climb the next day.
- We do not go with the back of the spoon this time!
Lance Guillaume loading his bag on the shoulders.
Indeed the bags are heavy: Ski gear , ice axes and crampons , harnesses , ropes , enough to sleep and eat … Fortunately we will leave part of the barda to the shelter for the next day.
The weather is clear and we are all motivated. After 1h30 of walking in the moonlight we push the door of the refuge. It is empty and the table of the stay awaits us to enjoy a well deserved meal. We do not train, and we slip into the duvets at 11 pm, taking advantage of the 7 hours of sleep that we have left.
Straight up to 3000m in the Swan corridor
It is 6am when the alarm clock rings. The night was good and we are all in shape. The sky is already clear on this morning of May and we take advantage of the first light of day to equip us. On the program this morning, 2 mixed runs and then 450m of unevenness at 45-50 ° to climb the Swan corridor and join the summit of the great Astazou.There is not a bit of wind and the clear night has done its job, the snow is hard and the crampons will bite easily without sinking.
Preparation for skiing and mountaineering in the mountains the objective of the day is in sight
Beginning of the ascent to the Swan corridor
We leave around 7am, crampons on the feet and skis on the back. What a joy to advance to three in the early morning towards a goal like the one that awaits us! We feel like we’re leaving for something great!
After an hour of approach we go up the snow cone located at the base of the corridor and can finally appreciate the conditions.
– Indeed the first two lengths of mixed seem rotten
Lance Guillaume scrutinizing the 60m wall above our heads
– Especially since a snowy cork bars the exit of these lengths, it looks moldy history
I answer by turning my head in search of a less exposed itinerary.
When approaching the discharge cone
After a few locations, we find a waterfall of 15m on the left of the wall, leading to a snowy balcony and then a turn on the right.
– We should be able to recover the corridor here by avoiding the first two lengths
I throw the piolets out of the bag.
The first sensations during the ascent to the Swan corridor
It is decided I am motivated to stick to it. The ice jump is not extreme and the buddies let me go on the first length of the race. We tie up on a 30m rope and we’re off. First sensations, the ice is good but fine. It will be time to protect higher! 5m more and I would be out of business. But it is at this moment that the mountain chooses to remind us that it is she who decides.
As I plant my ice ax , a loud thud, a cracking sound on my right, and as I turn my head I see a cloud of snow and ice blocks running down the main corridor and falling on the dejection cone .
– Are you okay?
I ask in a worried voice.
– Yes, it is the snow cap that broke and that descended the wall. Fortunately we left on the left, otherwise we would have been wrong!
I take the time to breathe a great blow, the mountain is big and we are very small. In a fraction of a second we can go from heaven to hell. Staying humble and concentrated will be the best way to avoid any incident. Still a great breath and I leave.
Arrival at the relay
At last I set foot on the snowy balcony. Some rocks allow me to drive a piton and secure the pals safely. The snow is good above and we are slightly offset from the bottom of the corridor. This involves steeper slopes but avoids the risk of falling stones or ice.
Guillaume springs solo in the face
Arriving at the relay, it is time to implement what we had planned. In May the corridor takes the sun early and it is important to get out quickly before the ice and rock begin to descend. Exit therefore the insurances every 30m. The snow is good and we know we have the technical level to get out. Guillaume and Alex detach their knots and tie the rope in Alex’s bag. That’s it, we’re going solo. What an odd feeling to no longer feel protected by the tying up. We will now have to take every step, stay focused at the top. The error is forbidden!
Progression in the corridor
Photo session at the Swan Corridor
The crampons break in well and we take turns tracking, evolving all three in this huge corridor. The sensation is incredible. There is nobody, no trace, and the sun illuminates the walls overlooking the corridor. We move quickly and take advantage of a few shots to take pictures. That’s when I see Alex taking a picture. But while he concentrates to take the best angle of view, a black shape begins to slide down the slope below it.
– Your glove, your glove falls!
I shout at her without thinking.
Indeed, the glove was already half-way and accelerated its course. Soon he disappeared downstairs leaving Alex with a bare hand. Luckily I had a pair of spare parts in the bag that I provided him as soon as he joined me.
The climbing ski and mountaineering ends.
A few tens of meters and we leave 3 hours later at the pass under the summit of the great Astazou. It is done ! We climbed the Swan corridor!
It is just 11:30 when we rejoin the summit of the great Astazou after going along the ridge. The snow is still hard by pouring south, we take advantage of it to picnic while waiting for the surface layer to soften. The hardest was done, up to the descent!
On the peaks leading to the summit
A perfect descent to the Swan corridor
After a good sandwich and a well deserved break, we put on the skis under the summit and we take the southern corridor to reach the breach of Tucquerouye. The snow is still hard and the slope is close to 45 °. The first turns are hesitant. But once the lock has passed, the slope is softened and the snow softens, and we can give free rein to our style to draw the curves that we like in this white universe.
The first turns are committed
The descent is a treat, and 20 minutes later we take off again to go up the breach of Tucquerouye. The climb is quickly dispatched, and after a little deserved break on the roof of the refuge, we swing North slope in the corridor of Tucquerouye. Here the atmosphere is magic: surrounded on both sides by rocky peaks, the corridor seems never to stop, and the good snow allows to let go the horses. A few more turns in the sun and we put the skins back to the Hourquette de Pailla, the last pass before joining the refuge from where we left in the morning.
Alex releases the horses in the swan corridor
The end of the ascent to the Swan corridor
The legs begin to be heavy and we feel it is good that this climb is the last. A few more efforts and we arrive at the pass, from which we can see the refuge of the Espuguettes.
Rise to the hula of Pailla
- Dessert is served, let’s enjoy it!
- Perfect ski downhill
- I said, rushing into these virgin slopes of every trace. A few more turns together and we take the road back to the Swan corridor in the hope of finding the lost glove. It is below the cone of dejection that it will wait for us, and we will be able to take advantage of a few last turns before joining the shelter of Espuguettes.
- End of the ride, we refit the bags and swap the ski shoes against the sneakers, and 1 hour later we return to the car, exhausted but happy to have spent such a beautiful day in assembly.
- Last look at the swan corridor
Conclusion of the climb to the Swan corridor
- The Swan corridor has kept its promises: A beautiful race in a grand setting, shared with two friends.What more ?Can it be a good snow to ski back down?
- This is what we have had throughout our return.This day in the mountains will undoubtedly be one of the most beautiful of the season for me!
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