Col d’Aubisque via Col de Spandelles and Col du Soulor (north)

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For an overview map and details on every route I have cycled in the Pyrenées see here.


Bike route 1832199 – powered by Bikemap 

Here is an alternate, quieter route to Col d’Aubisque from Argelès-Gazost. Most cyclists take the D918 direct main road. But frankly the first 10+ kilometres to Col du Soulor just aren’t interesting and can have a fair bit of traffic in summer.

For another excellent (and easier) alternate route to Aubisque via Col des Bordères – see here.

Leave Argelès on the D918 following signs to Aubisque and after a kilometre or so you will see a small sign to turn right to Col de Spandelles.

A few kms later there is another not-that-clearly-signed left turn …. then you can’t get lost.

It’s a tiny road to Spandelles, and tightly treed so few views, but it’s a good choice for the following reasons:

  1. It’s very, very, quiet.
  2. It’s almostly completely shaded, good in a heat-wave.
  3. The descent on the other side is superb.
  4. It leads to best side of Col du Soulor.

The other side is a different world. A scenic valley with open views of hairpins in the distance. It’s a lousy surface and technical descent – and I had to walk behind a herd of several hundred sheep for 10 minutes, chatting with a friendly farmer.

But it’s a beautiful:

Col de Spandelles

At the bottom is a sharp left and then 12 kilometres up to Col du Soulor. This north version is quiet, and super scenic from the very start – in my opinion far better than the well known east side – and the final few kilometres are a cliff road with perfect views of the amazing Cirque du Litor.

Col du Soulor

View of north side of Soulor from Aubisque slopes:
View of north side Col du Soulor

At Col du Soulor I stopped for some calories – enjoying the usual large flock of sheep, cows, and even horses, wandering around.

The route then descends into the fabulous cliff road Cirque du Litor. I struggled to get a decent photo as rain clouds rolled in on my return.

There is now a toll collector at the entrance:

Road to Cirque du Litor

I’ve never done the east side of Aubisque, but the short stretch past Litor on the west side is just beautiful:

Col d'Aubisque

I was tired but happy with this challenging but superb and quiet loop – after Hautacam in the morning – so I celebrated at the Col sign before taking the direct descent back to Argelès. Fast, non technical and I reconfirmed: far less interesting than the route here.

Cheers:

Col d'Aubisque
8.4 Very Good

Another quieter alternate route up Col d'Aubisque. Spandelles is OK, the north side of Soulor is the best side of Soulor, and Aubisque is lovely.

  • Views 8.5
  • Difficulty 8
  • Quiet / No Traffic 8.5
  • Fun Factor 8.5
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Happiest while cycling uphill. More enthusiastic than talented, my 2014 Challenge is to cycle 50 great rides, slowly.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Pyrenées Trip Summary : Cycling Challenge

  2. Hi Will,
    Just got back from hols, couldn’t find the right hand turn to spandelles, or I missed the sign!
    Amazing ride though, agree with first 10k, not the best. Cliff road was amazing.
    Great site and thanks
    John

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