From Astun over an old pilgrim pass to the Lake Gentau, through an extraordinary mountain landscape with exciting views and deep impressions. A walk that is characterized by one of the most fascinating mountains of the Pyrenees and enriched by some beautiful lakes.
Approximate walking time way there and back: 6 hours without rests.
The Col des Moines, also called Puerto de Jaca, is located on a variant of the Way of St. James, used by pilgrims who took a shorter but more arduous way to cross the mountains instead of the better known route through the Aspe valley. The pass owes its name to the monks who, according to tradition, received there the pilgrims coming up from the Ossau valley and accompanied them down to the hospice of Candanchu.
The first part of the tour runs on a section of the old pilgrimage route. A fairly even ascent through open grassland and meadows leads out of the valley towards the north along or near the Escalar brook. With increasing altitude, the mighty mountain ranges in the south are becoming increasingly visible and give the rise to the Col des Moines its visual imprint. The path reaches the Escalar lake and follows a short, flat stretch along the lower end. Another stretch of path, again leading uphill, brings the tour to the Col des Moines.
The arrival on the pass is rewarded with a spectacular view of the Pic du Midi d'Ossau, seemingly within one's grasp and towering over its surroundings. The legendary mountain shape, unrivaled in the Pyrenees and with its dominance and emblematic double summit, is the landmark of the entire region.
On the following, initially quite strong, then gentler descent into a small high valley, the mountain is always present. The path goes past the small Lac du Plaa de las Basques, lying a little bit below, and undulating pasture land. At the bottom of the valley, the tour leaves the pilgrimage route, and a short ascent that leaves the mountain out of sight brings it to a wide and elongated mountain saddle framed by lower ridges, where the pretty Lake Bersau is located. After a pleasant, beautiful and almost flat stretch along the lakeshore, the trail reaches the north end of the mountain saddle below which is the Lake Gentau, the upper one of the Ayous lakes.
The hike then leads downhill again and reaches the Ayous hiking hut slightly above the western shore of the lake. Once again the majestic Pic du Midi d'Ossau, dominating the landscape, appears in its full size. The tour continues near the shore and makes a loop around the lake. It then ascends on the south side of the lake up the slope on an occasionally rocky path until it returns to the way there above the lake.
The Ayous hut is managed from the last week of May until the middle of October.
Depending on the prevailing general weather situation and the trail conditions to be expected, the hike can also be undertaken outside the recommended months, but not during winter. In the early autumn, from the end of September / beginning of October, first snowfalls can occur in the higher altitudes.
From Oloron-Sainte-Marie on the N134 towards Col de Somport. Stay on the N134 and drive through Bedous and Urdos to the Somport Pass. There, turn left onto the Carretera de Astun.
From Jaca on the N330 towards Puerto de Somport. Stay on the N330 and via Canfranc and Canfranc-Estacion (from there N330a) to the Somport Pass. There turn right onto the Carretera de Astun.
On the Carretera de Astun, at a fork in the road, either left or right and then to the end of the road.