This seemed a reasonable idea as we climbed the valley in our Renault Scenic, passing impressive decaying forts built into the sides of the valley, huge wooden crosses and horrid ski resorts. At the col it became apparent that we wouldn't easily see the Pic, so a compromise was agreed on. We would all drive for another 2 hours into Spain so Andy could say he had been to France and Spain in one holiday and not get out and have a lovely walk up the nice mountains surrounding us.
Webbo seemed keen for this and I was surprised when he complained that he was bored, cramped and hot in the back the car as we lurched from side to side during exciting overtaking manoeuvres or just the general belly-wrenching cornering MO of Mr Philipson.
Eventually we arrive in Huesca, a small military town, to find everything shut (it was 1pm and extremely hot). All the Spainards were on siesta and we would have to wait for 3 hrs for any useful shops to open (or so we thought). So, we settled down for some lunch, only to find that the cafe we were drinking in wasn't serving food and neither was anywhere else in the town ! Doh !
So, quick tab round town to confirm the donkey had definately left, then wonders of wonders, an open kit shop! Shiny new crolls were purchased, along with numerous hats and the girl behind the counter was observed to be very attractive, having a lovely tan, extremely pert breasts and a wonderful bottom. We may have spent a little too long in the shop, but eventally we were away !
Back at the col, we drove up to the ski station, a horrid place of deserted ski runs and a generally scarred landscape. Andy and Steve plodded up to a ridge to look at the Pic while Simon, Swampy and me had lunch, sat and read, picked pyrenean buttercups, played frisbee and had a wombling competition (I won, with 4 Euros and a whole ski pole)
Pic d'Midi from the ridge above the ski station (AP)
Nope, time to heave monster tackle bags out of our old friend the Couey Lodge. Familiarity might well breed contempt, but we survived ok and more importantly stripped the tackle. I don't suppose any of us will ever see the Moonmilk traverse again……good.
Mountain cirque above our gite as seen on the way to the PSM plateau (AP)
It had to be done. All those shiny ropes currently residing in the Couey Lodge had to come out and today (Thursday) was the day.
Quick descent to the top of the Moonmilk traverse where Webbo and I indulged in a monster haul complicated by pulley-jammer "X" rigs, ledges that caught all the bags and Bloomsters determination to force his way past us and go to the bottom to prove his worth !
After and age of hauling, all the kit below -200m was stowed and the Tiger Two / Hippo posse headed out with a giant tackle bag (T2) and loose change (Hippo). The loose change was very heavy though, so thanks should go to Steve for hauling it out for us. What a hero !
The Weaner / Shrimper de-rig team followed swapping duties at the gravel-slope-of-doom (no. 2) and by 1500hrs we were all on the surface. I had been first man in and last man out, the duty of the prime Tiger. The Couey Lodge was over and a sign of collective relief was uttered.
On the way back, Steve decided to rescue a puddle-load of tadpoles, stranded in a rapidly shrinking puddle. So, playing God, he collected them in his welly and released them in a pool further down the valley.