Pyrenees snowshoeing long weekend in Cathar country, Ax-les-Thermes - 5 days, 3 days snowshoeing and spa, 4 nights accommodation
Activity: 3 days showshoeing based at Ax-les-Thermes including walking through magical beech woods, scaling a summit or encountering mountain "orris" ancient shelters. Cathar culture, frozen mountain lakes and waterfalls will all be part of the adventure. We start on a high mountain plateau where dog-sledding is also available! You will stay in hotel or apartment accommodation in this beautiful spa town and can have free time to visit the rejuvinating Bains de Couloubret spa after the days snowshoeing. One free spa session is included! This site has an indoor and outdoor section with many jets, pools and waterfalls to explore plus a sauna and hamman.
Ax-les-Thermes is a lively spa town with a thermal spa, wine bars and a night club so our guests always have a fantastic time. You can take a little time to explore the cobbled streets, find natural thermal sources and of course sniff out local farm shops where tasty cheeses and jams are on offer.
Duration: 3 days snowshoeing, 4 nights accommodation
Dates & Availability:
|SNP1/17||31 Dec-4 Jan 17||£595||Available|
|SNP2/17||11-15 Feb 17||£595||Available|
|SNP1/18||10-14 Feb 18||£595||Available|
Group Bookings & minimum numbers: If you have a minimum of 4 people we are happy to offer this trip on dates suitable to you. The guide ratio is maximum 1:10 and larger groups can be catered for if you would like to bring more people.
Fitness Level Needed: It's not necessary to have the fitness level of a mountaineer to snowshoe but you do need a good level of fitness that includes being able to walk comfortably for up to 4 to 5 hours at a steady pace. Ascents and descents are comparable to walking in any rolling mountainous terrain.
Equipment: Snowshoes and poles will be provided including transceivers where neccessary. For clothing bring a good layering system as it can get very warm, but equally quite cold. Essential to your normal walking clothing are: warm hat, gloves, waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, fleece, sunglasses, sunscreen, water bottle (1 litre minimum), 3-season walking boots, 35-50 litre rucksack with the ability to attach snowshoes to the outside. Optional, but recommended, are a hot water flask and gaiters.
Included: The services of a qualified International Mountain Leader and their expenses. It includes all snowshoe equipment - each client is required to have snowshoes and poles. We may also supply a snow shovel, probe and avalanche transceiver (a radio beacon allowing search and rescue) depending on walk location and conditions. 4 nights half board accommodation in a 2* hotel or chalet.
Not included: Flights, airport transfers, insurance, picnic lunches and drinks.
Is this for you?
Snowshoeing comprises of walking in winter with snowshoes to stop ourselves sinking into the snow, and to generally make walking easier. It means its easier to explore in woodland as well as on high mountain snow fields. We may even do sections of the day just in winter boots. Anyone, who enjoys the mountains will love this long weekend. We look for the best conditons so the itinerary is changeable.You will be walking from 4-5 hours a day normally with a final day up to 6 hours and this could involve up to 600m height gain with a maximum altutude of 2500m.
Interested in other dates?
Just ask, we are able to organise bespoke trips for groups of 3 or more. We will be announcing 2017 dates soon.
Coming to the Pyrenees as a family?
We welcome families and can arrange bespoke programmes including fun additional elements such as following animal tracks in the snow, sledging, dog-sledding and igloo building. It's fun! If you have younger children we can modify the programme according to their tolerance to staying out and need to play more. In this case it is likey to be two 2 hour sessions only in the snow and age dependant.
Please find a booking form at the base of this page for you to complete.
Using a wider surface area under foot has been used for hundreds of years to move in snow but you may not recognise these wooden shoes now! Check out this great article on all the different kinds of snowshoes. Ian is based in Switzerland and enjoys testing all these models.
Please note the actual itinerary is at the discretion of your guide who will make daily decisions based on weather and snow pack conditions. Any changes made will be to ensure the safety and enjoyment of the group.
Day 1 Arrival –Ax les Thermes, France
Your guide will meet you this evening in the beautiful spa town of Ax les Thermes and meet you at your hotel or apartment to answer any questions you may have. If you would like a single timed airport transfer for your group do request it. Accommodation is based on 2 people sharing. Meals D
Day 2 Plateau de Beille or Chioula
This is an introduction to snowshoeing day and includes instruction on how to make the most of your snowshoes in the terrain. You can roam through magical beech forests and follow paths as well as having a go at making your own tracks, taking in some gentle ascents and descents allowing you time to get used to this new snow clad world. There are many trails to choose from and and your guide will choose the best route for the conditions. We are near the cross country ski tracks and for those who have chosen to book our 'combo' and are also joining our beginners cross country ski break this is a great chance to see what lies in store on the ski tracks. We can reserve a husky ride for you on request. Ascent approx. 200-300 metres. 4 - 5 hrs. We stop for lunch in a mountain refuge or high resturant. Meals B, D
Day 3 Pic de Estibat 1664m or Peak Tarbesou 2364m
Today we aim to reach a summit and have the option to do a circuit which helps you to discover pastoralism in the Pyrenees from the col de Port in the first Saurat valley. Alternatively on Tarbesou we will be starting from the Ascou ski station to reach a remarkable belvedere. We will be walking Ascent approx. 450-550m/680m. 4 - 5 hrs. Meals B, D
Day 4 Journey into Soulcem and visit mountain orris or trek up from the Porte de Puymorenes
Today we get an early start and head up the Vicdessos valley towards Marc and view the stunning Etang de Soulcem. You will see mountain orris and most probably frozen waterfalls on this adventure. We will walk towards Andorra or Spain and depending on conditions we could reach a border. Alternatevely and depending on snow and road conditions we will head towards Andorra and start trekking towards a summit from Puymorens or set off from Pas de la Casa. These options have truely stunning views.
Tonight is spa evening in Ax and we will have a celebratory meal together to finish the trip. Meals B
Day 5 Departures
Today we say goodbye and we can offer a single timed airport transfer for groups. Meals B
For all our winter snowshoe programmes we reserve the right to change itinerary to enable us to get the best snow and also to reflect the prevailing road access conditions.