It actually did get cold last night. I packed all my electronics and water filter into my sleeping bag to make sure they wouldn’t break respectively lose all the battery.

The clouds which had pushed in last evening had disappeared completely and there was absolutely no wind anymore. I made my way up in the morning shade passing several lakes as the Lac des Isclotsand the Lac du Milieu on my way to the first target of today – the Col des Gourgs-Blancs (2877m).

The last meters up to the Col des Gourgs-Blancs. It was hard work to get up there. A lot of it was loose scree and/or boulders. Really the most tiring stuff to walk on especially in trail-running shoes since you have to be very careful not to twist a foot. And then there is this thing about the route finding. Usually you don’t have any markings up here at all unless it is a very popular trek very close to a parking lot or Refugio. So most of the time people have made their own trails and put up little cairns (piles of little rocks which you can see from some distance). But since many people have made many trails they have also put up many cairns. So finding the way is really a bitch! And then there is the philosophical question wether to make out your own target in the wall and go for it (if you know which direction to go) or to follow the cairns in the hope that it will be a better route. But one thing is clear. You either go for one or the other. Switching between the two is even worse! Then you end up going through even worse stuff back to cairn-track just to find out that it is even worse than the one you were just on… Walking on the snow is a real relief compared to all the scrambling!

The next obstacle – Col du Pluviomètre (2860m). Name of the game: don’t fall back into the pond!

Then another painful hour over boulders and scree with 50 different cairn-trails to chose from and most of them ending in a disaster which then required a three or four point climbing maneuver. But made it to the Refuge du Portillon and did get two quick Cokes and three eggs with ham and cheese as… Correct, Second Breakfast! My body is definitely in “hiker-hunger-mode”.

Next climb. Again the usual route finding and scree disaster. But it eases out in snow again and worth the climb since the Col Inférieur de Literole (2983m) is the highest point on the HRP.

The backside was steep – as promised. Really would not want to do this without crampons and an ice-axe when it is colder and with more snow. But so I decided to go off the steep track in the snow where others had cut step into the ice and snow already. Instead I went to an even steeper part on the other side of the Col. On this route I couldn’t spot any rocks in the snow anymore and the slope eased out a bit at the bottom. So I climbed down the wall to the snow field and just glissaded down the entire slope on my butt. For one my shorts are clean again (at least on the back side) and I saved half an hour of hard work making my way down there carefully. 💪

And the next Col in sight:

Looking back at the Col Inférieur de Literole.

On my way to the next pad I caught up with four Spanish Trailrunners and made new friends. We hiked/ran up the pass and down on the other side again together.

The good thing was – now I was not alone anymore trying to find the freakin’ right pass. All in the same boat now 🤣

Views and me taken by the amigos…

Then we had to descend back to 1.700m in a arrow valley with – of course – scree and boulders. Two hours of hard work…

…to reach the official half way point of the HRP. 12 full days and then couple of hours hiking out of the city on the arrival day are pretty good I would say. The 28 days seem realistic now. And guess what they have in Hospital de Benasque – a restaurant. I arrived at 6pm so too early to stop for the day. But I decided for a real dinner. So I ordered Coke, a pasta with meat sauce and a pizza. The waiter looked a bit irritated when he only saw me at the table but who cares. First came the pasta and it was inhaled in no time. When the pizza came shortly afterwards I could heard the little girl at the neighbors table saying in Dutch to her dad that “…this man just ate a whole plate of pasta and now a pizza!” It confused her so much that she actually came up to me and asked me why I was eating two meals…🤣🤣🤣

Packed again and looked for a camp spot for the night.

Stats for today: 2.600m up and 2.100m down in 23km.