Key information: Cirque d'Estaube
- The Cirque d'Estaubé lies at the head of the next valley east from Gavarnie, separated by a high and dramatic craggy ridge with a very walkable col between the two valleys.
- A fine hike takes up a gorge, then across lovely meadows to the rocky bowl below the sheer, elementally torn cliffs of the eponymous cirque.
- Walkopedia rating86
- Natural interest17
- Human interest3
- Negative points0
- Total rating86
- Length: 2.5 hrs return
- Level of Difficulty: Moderate
The Cirque d'Estaubé lies at the head of the next valley east from Gavarnie, separated by the high and dramatic, craggy Piméné ridge, with a step but very walkable col between the two valleys.
A fine, relatively gentle hike takes you in about 1.5hrs up a rather Scottish-feeling gorge from the Barrage des Gloriettes dam, then across lovely meadows to the rocky bowl below the sheer, elementally torn cliffs of the eponymous cirque. This is a smaller theatre of cliffs than next-door Gavarnie, but by any standards magnificent. This is a remote and empty place for much of the year, although the Haute Route comes through the head of the cirque once the snows have melted, and much quieter than its over-popular neighbour.
From here you can return to the barrage, or hike over the high (2430m), truly spectacular Hourquette d'Alans col to the Espugettes refuge and thence Gavarnie - or from the Hourquette d'Alans you can traverse the middle of the cirque on a section of the HRP, between the great cliffs, round to the Breche de Tuquerouye, which would take you on into Spain. This is a more demanding and in places exposed walk.
If, on return to the barrage, you feel you haven't done enough, you can make a fabulous high-hillside traverse from the barrage round the Piméné massif and back high up the eastern wall of the Gavarnie valley (and thence to Gavarnie itself), with huge views all round.
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