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La Table (2421m) and Le Pic des Trois Rois (2444m) from the Valley D’Anaye with an optional descent via the Lac De Lhurs – overview

The Table des Trois Rois seen from the Lhurs descent.

If this is not the longest and toughest circular route in the Cirque, it is certainly the most demanding in this collection. While the technical difficulties are moderate, distance, denivelation and navigational challenges make this a serious undertaking. It should only be attempted by experienced mountain walkers who are confident on a variety of terrain and who know, not only how to read a map, but also how to interpret the landscape. With this in mind, it is clear that to set out in poor visibility would be to invite problems. Now, the positive – the variety of landscape passed through, particularly if the descent via Lhurs is

included, is unparalleled in this collection, as well as in any others I have encountered. A cool forest; a valley laced with springs and bursting with plant life; a lunar landscape of chaotic limestone; 360 degree mountain views; an austere couloir followed by steep scree dropping down to a mountain lake – these are the ingredients that, together, will provide a day out to be remembered long after the pain of the effort has been forgotten.


The Table (2421m) and the Pic des Trois Rois (2444m) from the Valley D’Anaye with an optional descent via the Lac de Lhurs – the route Start

Timing

Deniv’

Terrain

Season

If the whole circuit is to be undertaken, go to the parking at Anapia and continue up the Sanchez track as far as the second turning on the left. Park here and walk up the track to Sanchez. To return from the Trois Rois by the same route park on the Plateau de Sanchez.

4h - 5h ascent. 50 minutes from the Table to the Pic and back. 4h descent by the same route. 3h for the descent via Lhurs

1 400m

Forest path, mountain path, cairned limestone chaos, scree. Easy scrambling on solid rock and some loose rock.

June October

• Waypoint 1: (N42°56'27.49 W0°40'37.3; alt.1081m) - The Plateau de Sanchez. From here follow the directions given in the route known as “The Balcon” as far as… • Waypoint 2: (N42 56.459 W0 41.892; alt. 1513m) The bridge by the shepherds’ cabane. Continue up the valley, WSW.


The Pic De Countende can be seen high above to the right, while to the left, the horizon is defined by the ridge between the Pics De Peneblanque and the Billare. Closer to the path, marmottes are commonly seen playing on the boulder strewn slopes of the valley. • Waypoint 3: (N42 55.847 W0 43.366; alt. 1867) The Sources de Marmitou are reached about 45 minutes after passing the cabanes. The area is easily identified by the dampness of the terrain which is laced with a host of tiny streams. Bear left, SSW, at this point following cairns through a small valley filled with giant boulders.

Approaching the Sources De Marmitou with the valley of giant boulders and the Col Des Ourtets (centre) clearly visible..

Follow the cairns veering right, W, on the steep climb up to the obvious Col des Ourtets, resisting the temptation to be led away left by competing cairns. • Waypoint 4: (N42 55.666 W0 43.743; alt 2140m) From here, the Col des Ourtets, go S to an obvious shoulder from where it is possible to see, for the first time, the Pic Des Trois Rois. Continue in the general direction of this


First sighting of the Pic Des Trois Rois, just after the Col Des Ourtets

summit (SSE) until the way is blocked by what is best described as a huge limestone trench. Turn left following cairns that bypass this obstacle, crossing limestone that has been sculpted by snow and ice over thousands of years. At times it is necessary to put hands to rock in order to follow the route but, at least here, one is dealing with solid, reliable material. Suddenly, the Table Des Trois Rois appears to the left of the Peak. With good visibility, it suffices to head for the shoulder between the two features making use of the numerous cairns but also commonsense in spotting the line of least resistance. In brief, if you feel worried any point, you should look for an easier passage! From the shoulder follow the easy slope to the Table 4 – 5 hours after leaving Sanchez. • Waypoint 5: (N42 55.095 W0 43.399; alt. 2421m) The Table Des Trois Rois * To attempt to describe the view from here would be a travesty. Enough to say

Above - The Table and the Peak Right - Getting to grips with the mineral world. * See “Movies” page.


that this point offers probably the most spectacular panorama in the whole Cirque. After a well earned rest, a bite to eat and, no doubt, a rewarding session with the camera, next steps will have to be considered‌ 1] Return by the same route. By now the landscape and the difficulties will be familiar. So this will be the most straightforward option. 2] Continue to the Pic Des Trois Rois. To achieve this, return to the shoulder between the two summits. Go right, contouring the Peak to the base of an obvious couloir which climbs steeply to the summit. The Lac De Lhurs from the Table Des Trois Rois

3] Descend to the Lac De Lhurs (either from the Peak or the Table). Although this is the fastest way to go down it is also the most demanding, requiring the ability to deal with steep scree and some loose material. It is, therefore, only recommended for confident mountain walkers. The first challenge is to locate the Col De Lhurs • Waypoint 6: (N42 55.241 W0 43.490; alt 2294m). In order to achieve this, retrace the ascent route to just below the shoulder. From there trend back The Pic Des Trois Rois as seen from the Table


towards the cliff edge above the Lac De Lhurs, guided by a separate line of cairns. The top of the couloir is marked by a very large cairn. So, if there is no cairn you are not in the right place! Once the couloir is located, however, there are no more navigational issues as the path is obvious and well cairned. Some simple scrambling is required in the upper part of the couloir but once this has been overcome the ability to remain upright on scree which is steep and, at times, unstable is the main requirement. Near the bottom of the couloir, the path moves left in order to access the obvious path in the scree slope that leads towards the lake. When the scree finishes there is no clearly defined path to the lake, but occasional cairns and the obvious imperative to follow the valley down make this is a simple stage of the walk.

• Waypoint 7: (N42 55.347 W0 42.177; alt 1691m) The Lac de Lhurs.

A walker in the descent couloir

From the lake follow the one and only descent path which leads, after about 1h 15 mins, back to the track between the parking at Anapia and the Plateau De Sanchez. More details for this stretch, should they be required, can be

found in the route entitled “The Lake and Dec de Lhurs” but the path is broad and well-used with only one possible opportunity for going wrong. This is near the end of the forest where a right turn onto a broad, steep stony track is necessary in order to gain the level piste leading back to Anapia.

La Table des Trois Rois witha descent to the Lac de Lhurs  

La Table des Trois Rois witha descent to the Lac de Lhurs

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