Le Pla d’Adet and above to Col de PortetBy Will • Sep 14th, 2012 • Category: Climbs, Cycling, pyrénées
For an overview map and details on every route I have cycled in the Pyrenées see here.
At a minimum Le Pla d’Adet is fun to say. The ski station – now marketed under the name Saint-Lary 1700 – has hosted the Tour de France nine times, last appearing in 2005 in a stage won by the American George Hincapie.
The climb up to Pla d’Adet is fully paved, however the rest of this loop requires a mountain bike.
It’s one of those rare climbs that you can see almost the entire route from down below – it’s hard not to be impressed at the view of the first stretch:
There is a plaque at the start of the climb commemorating its first appearance in 1974 won by the popular Frenchman Raymond Poulidor:
There are very few hairpins and several very steep stretches, making this short climb quite difficult. It’s an ugly purpose built station at the top and I didn’t stay long. Descending just a couple of kilometres is a turn off to a much more fun extension: The route to Col de Portet.
Unfortunately, it’s primarily a gravel road – although it switches to paved several times.
It’s a big climb heading towards bigger mountains. The early stretch hairpins up through a cow pasture:
Finally finishing on the upper ski pistes of the ski station:
My plan was to descend into the mountains on the other side and hopefully find the barrage and lac de d’Oule. Basically the fifth big lake in addition to the four I passed during the exceptional Lac de Cap de Long ride the day before.
After a couple of kms it became a VERY steep, rugged downhill road but I found the lake and despite a little walking it was beautiful and remote:
I had a quick lunch at a refuge and then crossed the dam, descended a very steep and rough path, finally rejoining the Route des Lacs route descending to Fabian then back to Saint-Lary.
I was tired after several big days and I took this pretty slowly, and Le Pla d’Adet isn’t going to be at the top of any of my favourite climb lists — but the climb to Portet is a proper and scenic Hors Categorie challenge and the adventure to find and descend to the dam makes this a very worthwhile loop.
In case you are looking closely at the map, you’ll see that I was briefly and nearly hopelessly lost near Pla d’Adet wandering up ski slopes looking for the road to Col de Portet …. which is actually hard to miss a couple of kms lower. Oops.