Hautacam and Col de Tramassel


General characteristics (click for gradient profile or photos).

Argelès-Gazost [450m] - 1 km semi-downhill, then 13 km uphill - Hautacam [1520m] - 1.2 km uphill - Col de Tramassel [1616m].

The climb start shortly after the bridge over the Gave* de Pau [420m].

Hautacam mainly consists of a very large car park and a number of ski lifts. Happily no apartment buildings or hotels that would spoil the environment. It hosted Tour de France stages in 1994, 1996, 2000 and 2008. The close by Col de Tramassel has never been the finish of a Tour de France stage, because it simply lacks the space to house the circus. However, for cycle tourists the Col de Tramassel is the preferred end point. Apart from being the highest point, it also offers a small but welcoming restaurant.
Conquering Hautacam is a tough but most rewarding effort ('Hors Categorie' grade). Ward has covered the 1100 meter difference in altitude over 13 km from the Gave de Pau bridge to the Hautacam car park in 1h 11min. Oof has done it in 1h 50min. The final leg to the Col de Tramassel has taken Ward and Oof respectively 6 and 10 min. These figures mean that on a slope with an average gradient of 8.5%, Ward has climbed 1000 meters/hour, and Oof 600 m/h.

* Gave means river in Occitan language (langue d'oc).



Left: Hautacam car park; right: Argelès-Gazost seen from the car park. The difference between both is impressive.
The original car park photo can be found at http://blog.woollypigs.com/2008_08_01_archive.html