© Pierre Meyer
Ice climbing in the Pyrenees, in the heart of the Cirque de Gavarnie
A unique experience

Ice climbing

  • Winter
  • Sensation
  • Sports

    While they provide freshness and vitality all the rest of the year, when winter comes, the countless waterfalls of the Gavarnie Valleys crystallize. Little by little, the temperatures drop so that you have the chance to measure yourself against these impressive sources of frozen water. Static, they reflect all the strength of the Pyrenees. Ephemeral, you have to know how to seize the opportunity to experience this timeless adventure. Here, from Barèges to Gavarnie, the ice falls open the way for you… 

    When and how to practice ice climbing?

    Practiced by mountaineers or glacier climbers, ice climbing consists of climbing glacial slopes or frozen waterfalls. Crampons, ice axes or ice screws allow you to evolve on these different terrains and to explore surprising formations : cigars, drapery of ice and stalactites. 

    When to practice ice climbing? 

    In the heart of winter, this activity is practicable when it is cold enough and the ice offers optimal conditions. Depending on the winter seasons and the weather situation, ice climbing is generally practiced from january to march

    For who ? 

    Ice climbing requires good physical conditions. Of climbing basics on rock and a autonomy in top-rope are also needed.  

    With who ? 

    Icefalls intrigue, make you dream or intimidate... mountain guides offer support for the first steps in ice climbing or for a more committed outing for the initiated. Thanks to a very varied climbing potential and several difficulty levels, the guides will take you to discover the line that best suits you. 

    Find a guide

    © Pierre Meyer
    Alternate Text (SEO) Ice Climber

    Where to practice ice climbing? 

    In the Gavarnie Valleys, the routes are distributed on different sectors. From the Barèges valley to the Gavarnie-Gèdre valley via the Pic du Midi, different spots offer varied atmospheres.

    For independent climbers, contact the CRS (+33 5 62 92 48 24) or the PGHM (+33 5 62 92 71 82) to find out the ice conditions from the moment.

    Ice waterfalls of the Cirque de Gavarnie 

    Over forty frozen waterfalls are distributed in the Cirque de Gavarnie, which makes it one of the major spots ice climbing in the Pyrenees. A versatile playground, the best ice climbers frequent this sector for the chance to climb one of the highest waterfalls in Europe, measuring 427 meters. For budding ice climbers, accompanied by a guide, you can also confront these icy lines.  

    Héas Valley and Cirque de Troumouse 

    In its winter version, if they may seem wild, the frozen walls of the Héas valley and the Troumouse circus can nevertheless be tamed. In these valleys where your ice axes resonate between the imposing ice walls, a feeling of humility will fill you in front of these curves drawn in the ice. At the top of the routes, the view rewards you for your efforts. Surrounded by peaks over 3 meters above sea level, nature reveals a wild environment in raw state. 

    © Pierre Meyer
    Approach walk in the snow to the routes of the Cirque de Gavarnie

    Face to face with the Pic du Midi  

    If it is well known for its astronomical observatory or its corridors for off-piste skiing, the Pic du Midi also offers ice climbing in winter. 
    On north face du Pic du Midi, from the panoramic terrace, you can access 4 lines. Once well equipped and accompanied by experienced guides, whether you are a climber beginner or initiated, you can launch yourself on icy walls of 25 meters in height. In a setting of rare beauty, you will have the feeling of becoming one with the wall, of linking yourself with this emblematic summit. As if time had stopped long enough to let you pass, you will live a unique and unusual experience. 

    Zoom on …

    the Pic du Midi observatory 

    Once the ascent is over, from the top of its 2 meters, Pic du Midi has one of the prettiest views of the Pyrenees. A tour of the scientific infrastructure and its museum allows you to understand how this observatory found himself there, in the middle of these Pyrenean cliffs. Then, to end the visit, from the terrace or Le Bistro, warm up with a well-deserved hot drink with panoramic view.  

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