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Vignemale Vignemale Cauterets
The Vignemale massif straddles the border between Aragon in Spain and the Hautes Pyrenees in France. There are several impressive peaks in the range including the Grande Vignemale (or Pique Longue) standing an impressive 3298m tall and the highest of the French Pyrenean summits, Pointe Chausenque at 3204m and even the Petit Vignemale makes the above 3000m list standing at 3032m.

There are two contrasting aspects of the Vignemale. Approaching from the South it rises in a series of terraces to a large, seemingly summitless, plateau whereas the North Face is more dramatic upon which there are a number of serious ascent routes requiring skill and commitment; a collection of steep walls rise at various angles, the most awesome being the sheer 2,500-foot North Face. This rugged limestone wall is the highest unbroken wall in the Pyrenees and offers a superb variety of technical climbs. The Vignemale is also the site of the Ossoue, the largest glacier to be found in the Pyrenees, across which is the standard route to the summit.

Below the North Face you will find the Refuge des Oulettes de Gaube, a dramatically situated mountain refuge. From the north the approach entails a delightful walk up to and around the picturesque Gaube Lake and increasingly dramatic views of the mountain.

The first ascent of the summit was in 1792 by a team led by Louis-Philippe Reinhart Junker to establish the border and determine the height of the peaks but almost synonymous with the Vignemale is the name of Count Henry Russell, a Victorian eccentric who developed a life-long passion for the mountain.

The most convenient centres from which to explore this delightful part of the Pyrenees are Cauterets in France or Torla on the Spanish side.

Fact Box

Points of interest : The highest peak in the French Pyrenees
The dramatic setting of Lake Gaube
Challenging technical climbs on the North face

Guides available : Cauterets is the most convenient centre from which to hire a mountain guide

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