3rd August: Punta Pousett 3046m

Fuelled by last night’s rather large pizza we set off early to make our ascent of Punta Pousett. It was a little cloudy to start with but the clouds soon disappeared and by 8.30 it was hot and sticky in the forest. We were glad to reach open meadows where there was a bit of a breeze.

The ascent was relentless (about 1600m in total) and as we got higher and the sun got hotter we had to take more rest stops. We stopped for some lunch in the shade of some old huts before making the last 500m of ascent.

While we were eating lunch, John spotted a herd of chamois, including a couple of babies, in the distance. Then, as we set off again, he spotted a marmot quite close to the path. It sat and posed to have its photo taken.

We finally approached the summit after about 4 and a half hours of climbing and the village where we had started looked tiny, miles below. The last 50m or so to the summit cross was straight up the rocks and we wondered if it was possible without ropes. However, a yellow way marker pointed the way so we decided to give it a go.

Then, as we looked up to check the route, we noticed a chamois looking down at us from his perch above! It didn’t seem to want to move. It was staring us out! I was worried that it might try and run down past us to get away but John convinced me it would be more scared of us than we were of it, and that it could get away in the opposite direction! Given that we’d seen them running down near vertical cliffs a couple of days ago, I had to believe him and, as we set off scrambling up the cliffs, it disappeared.

In the picture below I am thinking two things: how on earth can we get up there, and is that chamois going to push me off the cliff?! You can just see the chamois in the top right of the photo.

As we got a little higher and we were having to climb using hand and footholds, we decided it would be easier to take our rucksacks off to make squeezing between the rocks easier. We had only seen two other people on the ascent so they weren’t in danger of being stolen!

We were just crossing a relatively flat rock when it started raining. The small summit cross was still about 20m away (see photo) but I panicked. I wanted to turn back because I was scared of getting back down if the rock was wet and slippery. John agreed to turn back too, but I know he was gutted to stop so close to the summit.

What made matters worse was that 10 minutes later the shower had stopped and the sun was shining again. John was very nice about it though and didn’t make me feel guilty about being a wimp! We took some photos of the amazing views and continued our descent.

We had our 2nd lunch stop, sunbathe and obligatory paddle in the river on the way down.

As soon as we set off, the rain started again. We packed away sunglasses, cameras, phones etc into the rucksacks and put our waterproof jackets on, both complaining it was too hot and sticky for coats. 5 minutes later the rain stopped and we took them off again! At least the clouds rolling over meant we got some periods of cooler weather!

We had another short spell of rain on the way down but eventually reached the valley, our knees aching from the steep, relentless descent. We had hiked for almost 8 hours (including stops) and decided we deserved a huge ice cream. We sat for a while outside the cafe, watching the world go by. We could hear thunder rumbling in the distance and commented that we were glad to be back in the valley before the storm hit.

As we returned to the van, I looked up to the peak and could see black clouds gathering over Punta Pousett. We had seen people on their way up as we came down, and felt sorry for them still being up there in the rain. Next thing, the heavens opened and rain and hail were hammering down as the thunder and lightning storm moved overhead. We jumped in the van and closed all the windows, feeling very lucky to be back in time before everything inside got soaked. A few people around us weren’t so lucky.

Now the sun is shining once again and people are sunbathing. We have packed the hiking gear away as tomorrow we leave the mountains and head for the coast. We have no idea where we are staying tomorrow night but hopefully there’s a free pitch for us somewhere beautiful.

I don’t know when we’ll get wifi again but you’ll hear as soon as we do. Ciao for now x

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