Marc and I thought it might be fun to have another mountain outing. After a bit of research, we decided to head for the Canigou.
What is the Pic du Canigou?#
The Pic du Canigou, also known as the Pica del Canigó, is the highest peak in the eastern Pyrenees, reaching an altitude of 2,784 meters. It is located in the Canigou massif, in the Pyrénées-Orientales department of France.
Canigou is a sacred mountain for Catalans, who consider it a symbol of their national identity. It is often mentioned in Catalan literature and music, and is a popular place of pilgrimage.
Climbing Canigou is a challenging but rewarding trek. There are several itineraries, but the most popular starts at the refuge du Canigou, at around 1,600 meters altitude. The climb takes around 7 hours, and the panorama from the summit is breathtaking.
We set off mid-afternoon from the Casteil parking lot dedicated to accessing the Abbaye Saint-Martin du Canigou. We took the road leading to the abbey. It took us over 5 hours to reach the Arago refuge, which meant a lot of climbing through the forest.
The big day#
We decided to climb to the summit of Canigou via the Quazemi ridge. The Quazemi ridge is a variant of the normal route to the Pic du Canigou. It offers a more adventurous and aesthetically pleasing route than the normal one, but is also more difficult and exposed.
After a quick freeze-dried breakfast, we packed our bags and set off into the forest just above the refuge. The climb is long and there are no tracks. So we had to make our way through forest, snow and scree.
Once we’d reached the summit of Quazemi de Dalt, we unpacked our rucksacks and got into our gear.
The route of the ridge presented us with difficulties in two places. At the letterbox, we didn’t pass under the boulder, but went down to the right to climb up the other side, to the right of the piton. Marc took a nasty fall on his second descent. We should have simply abseiled. The second moment was on another de-escalation on a slab that we had to go around. Not being sure of the route, I first tried to join some ropes on the left, but it didn’t seem any easier. An abseil using the mobile link would have been easier.
The atmosphere was still very pleasant, and some of the passages were really good for climbing.
As for the weather, it was fine but very windy, which made it feel very cold.
Just after reaching the summit of Canigou, we packed up our gear. We didn’t even take the time to take a photo. We identified the route for the descent and set off down the long couloir. It took us a long time to get to the refuge.
We took a break at the refuge to collect our things and have a snack. I was already very tired.
It still took us over 3 hours by headlamp to reach the car, which we reached around midnight. It had been a long day!