Pyrénées Cols - The Great Climbs
Col de Peyresourde sign

The Pyrenees is associated with many great cycling legends and historical events, yet nestling amidst the mountains are undiscovered gems whose beauty and mystic captivates those willing to stray into the wilder reaches.

The Great Climbs

The most famous climb in the Pyrenees is the legendary Col du Tourmalet. Undoubtedly a great climb and despite it's historical legacy and subsequent prophecy it's surprising for us that it is not actually the most highly rated climb amongst our guests.

Famous cycling cols (mountain passes) within cycling distance of us include Col d'Aspin, Col des Ares, Port de Bales, Col de Mente, Col de Peyresourde, Portet d'Aspet, Col de Portillon Superbagneres and Col du Tourmalet. With a short transfer or drive from us you can also cycle the Col d'Aubisque, Spandalles, Col de Marie Blanque, Col de Port, Col de Marmare and Col de Soulor, Hautacam, Luz Ardiden, but the list is not conclusive.

See the interactive map below for those climbs that are within rideable distance from us. The triangles on the map represent the summit and by clicking on the name takes you to further information including descriptions, statistics, profiles and photographs.

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Map & Col Guide

Map of Cols - click for col details Hospice de France 1,380m Hautacam 1,635m Col du Portillon 1,293m Col de Mortis 841m Col de Larrieu 704m Col de Mente 1,349m Superbagneres 1,800m Col de Peyresourde 1,569m Col du Tourmalet 2,115m Station de Nistos 1,590m Lac de Cap-de-Long 2,162m Col d'Azet 1,580m Lac d'Aumer 2,195m Hourquette d'Ancizan 1,564m Pic du Midi 2,872m Col d'Aspin 1,489 Port de Bales 1,755m Col des Ares 797m Portet d'Aspet 1,069m Col de Coupe 730m Artiga de Lin 1,468m Bassa d'Oles 1,599m Gaurdader d'Arres 1,320m Saut deth Pish 1,555m
Artiga de Lin
Artiga de Lin valley

The narrow road climbs, following the fast flowing river Joeu through a deeply wooded valley to the scenic mountain cirque named Artiga de Lin. The average gradient is 7.3% but there is a very steep section of 18.5% near the summit. The road surface is good but there is a deeply set cattle grid to watch out for, it is a fast descent and technical in places with narrow sweeping bends.

A few kilometres from the top there is an information point with steps (a few minutes walk) leading to Uelhs Deth Joeu, a deafening waterfall of great power. It makes a good route combined with Bassa d'Oles following a sealed forestry road that connects the two.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
Village of Es Bordes 9.1km 811m - 1,468m 657m

Bassa d'Oles
The lake at the Bassa d'Oles summit

A quiet climb through a relaxing scented, south facing pine forest. The road terminates at the top with the lake of Bassa d'Oles before you. There is a nice sign posted, easy walk around the lake that takes about 30 minutes, often frequented by fishermen. Once at the top you must descend the way you climbed. After a few kilometres, you can take another road that traverses the mountain side and meets the climb of Artiga de Lin, midway up.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
Village of Aubert 10km 899m - 1,599m 710m  

Hourquette d'Ancizan
Hourquette d'Ancizan

An attractive alternative, or excellent to combine with the Col d'Aspin.

The North side from Campan is a better ascent on gentle gradients with beautiful views passing through meadows and an old alpine forest. The southern descent is steep but offers views of mountain peaks in the second half. There are cafes at Ancizan and Payolle.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
North side from Campan 22.6km 660m - 1,564m 904m
East side from Ancizan 10.3km 759m - 1,564m 805m

Lac d'Aumer Lac d'Aumer
Lac d'Aumer at the summit

Cul-de-sac climb entering the Pyrenees National Park finishing at a scenic lake.

Starts gentle until 1,875m altitude at junction for Lac de Cap-de-Long, after which the road dips before steeper finish. The last section passes through impressive forests of stunted pine trees, some of which are 1000 years old and forms Europe's highest mountain pine forest.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
From St Lary Soulan 24.3km 820m - 2,195m 1,375m

Col des Ares Col des Ares
Col des Ares

A good introductory climb, with gentle and very even gradients of 4% average. East side offers good scenery whilst the west side has several hairpin bends. A favourite col in the winter when others are un-rideable due to snow.

There is a bar/ cafe situated on the summit, otherwise the lively village of Aspet on East side is a good place to stop. This climb can be incorporated into a route including several other cols

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
East side from la Moulette 6.7km 487m - 797m 310m
West side from Fronsac 8.4km 467m - 797m 330m

Col d'Aspin Col d'Aspin
Col d'Aspin

Popular with club cyclists, and much used by the Tour de France.

Steady gradient with good views throughout the open east side and the summit, especially of Pic du Midi de Bigorre at 2,872m. Kilometre signs show average gradient, height and distance. Cattle and horses frequent summit. A quieter alternative back is the Hourquette d'Ancizan (1,564m) to the South.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
East side from Arreau 12.5km 700m - 1,489m 789m
West side from Campan 18.4km 660m - 1,489m 829m

Col d'Azet Col d'Azet
Col d'Azet

Scenic climb and excellent views from the summit, incorporating a section of the GR10. Hang-gliders frequent the skies. Both sides are rather steep in the lower kilometres and ease a little nearer the summit. Very steep section through village of Azet. No facilities at the summit but good lakeside cafe in Genos on East side - pictured right.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
East side from Genos 7.5km 960m - 1,580m 620m
West side from Bourisp 10.7km 800m - 1,580m 780m

Guardader d'Arres Guardader d'Arres
Guardader d'Arres

A superb climb and a favourite amongst guests. For the best approach, start from Bossost on the Spanish side of the border. The majority of the climb passes through a forest of pine and birch trees. However, on the right hand side the mountain side disappears steeply, offering superb views with the scent of pine. You will appreciate the intermittent shade provided from the trees as it can get hot in the sun during midday, especially so in this valley.

The first half eases your legs into it with some moderately steep areas nearer the top but leaves your rhythm intact not crossing the 10% gradient for any length of time. The last kilometre is almost flat. At the summit there is a stone balcony that overlooks the valley below. After passing through the village of Arres the descent is fun and engaging. The road descends fast on new tarmac with lots of hairpin bends that seemingly continue to exit in different directions.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
North side from Bossost 7.2km 708m - 1,320m 612m  
South side from Pont d'Arros 6.6km 863m - 1,320m 457m  

Port de Bales Port de Balès
Port de Bales

Broad open summit with excellent views of the snow capped Spanish frontier mountains.

The North side is very variable between 6% and 12% gradients, following a peaceful wooded stream valley beyond Ferrére. The last 10km is more difficult than the first. In the last 4km, the scenery rapidly changes as you emerge from the trees to enter a wide bowl of green pasture with grazing cattle.

The South side from Luchon is occasionally steep with long shallow stretches through small villages. No facilities at the summit. Luchon has many cafes and restaurants, or there is an interesting bar/ cafe at Ferrére and others at Mauleon Barousse.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
North side from Mauleon 18.9km 570m - 1,755m 1,185m
South side from Luchon 19.7km 630m - 1,755m 1,125m

Lac de Cap-de-Long Lac de Cap-de-Long
Lac de Cap-de-Long

A cul-de-sac climb to a very high beautiful lake. Shallow start at first, but steepens after junction/ fork in the road at 1,875m for the alternative climb to Lac d'Aumer.

The summit can be busy in high season with a cafe and numerous great walks.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
From St Lary Soulan 22.7km 820m - 2,162m 1,342m

Lac de Cap-de-Long Col de Coupe
Col de Coupe

Both the east and west sides climb gently on very quiet roads to the summit. There are some excellent views as you climb from Laborde, overlooking the pasture lands of the Baronnies region. It is a good climb to partner with one of the many rolling routes in the area.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total
East side from Heches 5km 560m - 730m 170m
West side from Laborde 5.2km 450m - 730m 280m

Hautacam Hautacam

The climb starts a few kilometres from the centre of Argeles Gazost with the lower half offering some shade as you pass through several villages and wooded area. The average percentage for the climb is 6.8%, but it does get tougher in the second half. The last few kilometres gets more difficult with gradients of 9 and over 10%, but the final few hairpins offer great views over the valley below and the surrounding mountains.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
From Argeles Gazost 15.5km 465m - 1,635m 1,170m

Hospice de France Hospice de France
Hospice de France

The Hospice de France, dating from the 14th century, was once a staging post for mule-trains trading across the border.

As you leave Luchon, the road gently climbs at first but steepens around half way. The last 3km is difficult as it is over 10% with some sections at 12 and 13%. There is a cafe at the top open during the summer months, otherwise Luchon has many cafes and restaurants.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
From Luchon 11.6km 630m - 1,380m 750m

Col de Larrieu Col de Larrieu

A great climb to include in a loop over the rolling foothills or combine with the Col des Ares. The East side is steeper than the west with an average gradient of 6.8%. A peaceful col that links to Aspet - a great place to stop for lunch.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
East side from Barat 4.6km 390m - 704m 314m
West side from Aspet 6.1km 475m - 704m 229m

Col de Mente Col de Mente
Col de Mente

A famous TDF climb, used since 1971. Marco Pantani holds the record on the steeper West side from St Beat. Descending both sides is fast with lots of switchbacks.

There is a bar/ cafe at the summit or you can climb a little higher to the ski station le Mortis for more choice.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
East side from Pont de l'Oule 11km 633m - 1,349m 716m
West side from St. Béat 9.4km 504m - 1,349m 845m

Col de Mortis Col de Mortis
Col de Mortis

A small climb starting 1km from us. Good views from South side and the summit over the Barousse valley.

The North side over looks the medieval town of St Bertrand-de-Comminges. The descent on the North side takes you close to St-Bertrand-de-Comminges - a good place to have a coffee or pancakes.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
North side from Sarp 6.5km 465m - 841m 376m
South side from Gembrie 4.5km 498m - 841m 343m

Pic du Midi Pic du Midi de Bigorre
Pic du Midi de Bigorre

Pic du Midi is the location of the famous observatory and is a big tourist attraction - especially during late July and August. The climb is accessed from the summit of the Col du Tourmalet via an unsealed road.

It is possible to ride this climb on a road bike, but it is not for the inexperienced or unfit due to the combination of the altitude and technical road surface. Amazing scenery with cliff edges and two short tunnels.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
Starting from the summit of the Col du Tourmalet 5km 2,115m - 2,872m 757m

Nistos - Cap Nestes Nistos - Cap Nestès
Nistos - Cap Nestes

Gentle and scenic road follows the river up the valley to the foot of the col. Col is a cul-de-sac road leading to cross-country ski station of Nistos. Scenic and quite steep in places.

Restaurant named L'Arixo at summit, although not open all year round.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
Starting from Bas Nistos 17.1km 551m - 1,590m 1,039m

Portet d'Aspet Portet d'Aspet
Portet d'Aspet

From Aspet the road is fast and rolling until you pass the river. Once across the bridge the road steepens for the last 4km with 12% and 13% gradients.

The legendary Fabio Casartelli died whilst descending this steep section when leading the Peloton in 1995. There is a monument here in his memory.

The East side is more gradual in gradient throughout its 18km length. There is a cafe at the summit and good views towards the East especially.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
East side from Audressein 18.1km 512m - 1,069m 557m
West side from Aspet 14.3km 475m - 1,069m 594m

Col du Portillon Col du Portillon
Col du Portillon

The French/ Spanish border is situated on the summit of this col. From Luchon the climb is longer and includes some steeper sections after about 3km in, but eases in the middle. This side is exposed to the sun and the natural rock face the road was cut from, can radiate a lot of heat as well.

The descent on the East side has many bends and leads to the small Spanish town of Bossost. From here, you can either continue into Spain further or return to France via a long gradual descent to Fos.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
East side from Bossost 8.6km 710m - 1,293m 583m
West side from Luchon 10.2km 630m - 1,293m 663m

Co de Peyresourde Col de Peyresourde
Col de Peyresourde

A popular col with open scenery most of the way. East side has a steady gradient around 7-8% and a few short steep sections around 11% and 14%. There is a small variant mid-way to pass through villages adding extra kilometres, but easing the gradient. The west side from Avajan starts with low gradients to a dip and then a steep mid section up to 11.4%, but eases off for the last half.

There is a small road side cafe with a friendly and enthusiastic owner at summit which sells excellent crepes. Luchon on East side has many bars, cafes, restaurants and two bike shops.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
East side from Luchon 14km 630m - 1,569m 939m
West side from Avajan 10km 914m - 1,569m 655m

Saut deth Pishperbagneres Saut deth Pish
Saut deth Pish

The 10km climb begins on the Spanish side of the border from Pont d'Arros (bridge to the village Arros). The road meanders alongside the rugged river Varrados, ultimately reaching the summit of Varrados. However, the tarmac terminates several kilometres before the summit at the car park to Saut deth Pish, a large and powerful waterfall. There are signposts and paths leading to a stone balcony where you can photograph and appreciate it at its best angle. It is a 2 minute walk and unsuitable to ride on a road bike.

The average gradient is a mild 6.6% but there are much steeper sections in the middle, finishing with shallow and even flat stretches. The descent is fast but technical in places where the road narrows to cross the river several times. It is a wild mountain climb, narrow in places without barriers at the side of the road and can have occasional rock debris outside of the summer months.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
Starting from Pont d'Arros 10.7km 863m - 1,555m 692m  

Superbagneres Superbagnères

A scenic and open climb finishing at the ski station of Superbagnères. Great views at the summit with an almost vertical drop of 1,170m over Luchon.

The snow capped mountains towards the Spanish border are especially impressive. There is a good cafe for food and drink at the summit but there is greater choice in Luchon.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
Starting from Luchon 18.5km 630m - 1,800m 1,170m

Col du Tourmalet Col du Tourmalet
Col du Tourmalet

One of the most popular mountain climbs in Europe and most famous in the Tour de France having featured more than 70 times. The summit is marked by a cyclist monument and cafe opposite. The cafe is a mini museum of old TDF bikes, photos, news articles and other memorabilia which is worth the visit alone.

The climb is a challenge, especially towards the summit where it steepens. The landscape changes near the top with impressive, although barren, large exposed jagged rock. From the summit a road leads to the higher summit at Pic du Midi de Bigorre at 2,872m.

Starting point Length Altitude Climb total Profile
East side from Campan 22.6km 660m - 2,115m 1,455m
West side from Luz St. Sauveur 18.2km 710m - 2,115m 1,405m
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