Just wow, really. The 5 ton(ish) mothership struggled up some >10% inclines, but we got up to the ski resort of La Mongie deep in the Pyrenees.
Being out of season is a little eerie – everything is shut up tight like a drum and there are just us and the few other tourists here for the same reason as us.
And the reason for this trip through the mountains at this particular crossing point – aside from the wonderful views – was the famous ‘Pic Du Midi’, which is an observatory at 10,000 feet and accessible from cable car (two cable cars actually!) from La Mongie.
This was our most expensive day out at 40€ each, but blimey, the views from 3000 meters were amazing. We came back down to La Mongie at a mere 5000 feet to find that the clouds had closed in around us and cows and llamas were walking around the resort in considerably greater numbers than people.
We waited for about an hour and it lifted about fifty feet. Sounds like a little, but it meant that we could see down the mountain and safely drive the 30km to our overnight stop at Campan with the clouds *just* above us.
We descended a couple of thousand feet and the mothership brakes smelled pretty warm, even with engine braking and hill descent mode!
Payolle near Campan was a free overnight stop with fresh water and waste disposal. It’s rural and is nestled among the mountains in a pine forest with warnings about bears! A brisk walk around the lake making plenty of noise and retire.