Pic de l’Aigle 360°

Pic de l’Aigle (the Eagle’s Peak) is a mountain that I can see right from my living room window. It’s my go-to climb whenever I want to go for a tougher than usual run, as a door-to-door loop takes just under two hours, is 13km and climbs about 650m.

I ran it on Sunday, with a quick ‘warm up session’ down the valley – 8km running with the dog. I then dropped him off at home as it was pretty hot and there aren’t any streams running up there this time of year.

Despite it being Bastille Day, the weekend when hordes of tourists descend on us for the summer, I had the whole mountain to myself, and took this 360 panorama with the Photosynth app.

Pic de l’Aigle Morning Run

I was feeling like a more challenging outing so I ran Pic de l’Aigle this morning and got a few nice pictures since the weather was fine.

Down in the valley at the start of the climb, crossing the river Büech
Eric, the border collie, waiting for me as the gradient gets steeper
The view back down into the La Jarjatte valley, with the ski pistes in the background
The summit of Montagne de Claret – now its all downhill

Eagle’s Peak Loop

My house is in a valley, and directly opposite, above the Via Ferrata route and rock climbing crag, is a steep mountain face, topped out by a little nubbin known as Pic de l’Aigle, or Peak of the Eagle. I can understand why it got this name, we regularly see golden eagles circling in the area, swooping down for hares or gaining height on the thermals, and the rock itself looks like a perfect place for an eyrie.

A photo of Pic de l’Aigle (top left) taken from behind the chapel in La Jarjatte

I’ve hiked it a couple of times before and it takes a good half day, but I decided to run it with Eric this morning.

The route starts off with a gentle 2.5km downhill run out of the village and along farmers fields to the neck of the La Jarjatte valley, where you join a logging track. After a couple of hundred metres though you branch off into the forest and get to run up some pretty decent single track.

Even though it doesn’t look hot from the photos, it was quite warm and Eric started to flag. After 45 minutes of finding no water sources I did consider turning back. Its been so dry for so long, and we were running up south-facing slopes there was nowhere to drink from.

Pretty soon though, I could see the top of the tree line, and the bulge of Pic de l’Aigle through the trees.

Almost at the top

The trees opened up with great views to the valley below, and the village of La Jarjatte. After just an hour of running I was at the Col de la pic de l’Aigle.

Pic de l’Aigle, with some pretty scummy weather blowing in from the valley to the north.

By this point I’d managed to get Eric to drink from his portable water bowl, and used up the last of my water with him.

The trail moves up behind Pic de l’Aigle, and carries on along the mountain ridge to Montagne de Clairet.

From here it was all downhill, but when you’re tied to a freshly-watered, re-energised Border Collie, this is easier said than done, and I spent the whole 700m descent pulling back on him and trying to not to fly flat on my face.