The sun showed its rays as we ate breakfast. This allowed the conversation to turn to hiking the ‘variante’, the TMB alternate, that would cut at least 1 1/2 hrs from my walk to Lac Combal.
A friend said he was taking it. Always afraid to get lost, I asked if I could tag along.
Col des Fours
Taking the variante involved climbing a few hundred meters from the refuge to one of the two highest peaks on the TMB, the Col des Fours. This pass of 2665 m speckled occasional snow crystals over us as we climbed, but the other side was incredibly clear. The photo above is looking down at the trail I need to take to get to the bottom.
On the way down, I passed this lovely formation. Small amounts of water flowed over it and made it sparkle like an abalone shell.
The variante over the Col des Fours is a highly recommended trail if the weather allows. Please note, experts say to avoid it if weather is rainy, foggy or if there is snow.
The Other Side
Once at the very bottom of the valley, I then had to make my way up the other side and through another pass, the Col de la Seigne (2513 m). The weather wasn’t so nice anymore as I approached it. The wind whipped me around, and I spent little time admiring the harsh environment around me.
This well-known and very popular rifugio with great food was full. I had to walk another 45 mins down a rocky road to find accommodation.
Caban de Combal
The heavy winds followed us all the way down from the Col de la Seigne pass. I was glad to get in and eat at the remarkably clean Caban de Combal.
The biggest plus? Endless hot water.