• Étang du Garbet - Couserans
  • Vue sur la vallée du Ribérot - Couserans
  • Balade dans le massif de Sourroque
  • Parcours aventure de Moulis
  • Sports d'eaux vives Couserans
  • Baptême en montgolfière Couserans
  • Col de la Core
  • Vue sur la chaîne des Pyrénées

By the valley of Riberot and the manned refuge of Estagnous - 2240 m

Video of the refuge on our Youtube channel

Duration : 2 days (recommended)

1st day : Pla de Lalau parking area- the Estagnous hut (labelled "Quality outdoor"): 4h
2nd day : Estagnous hut (70 beds) - Mont-Valier : 2h
Total ascent : 1800 m

Of all Mont Valier itineraries, the one by the Ribérot Valley is most appealing because of its great landscape variety.


Mont valier - Ribérot - Couserans - Ariège



- Access : 

From St Girons, take the D618 road up to Castillon en Couserans. Three kilometres past the village of Bordes sur Lez, take the second junction on your left, crossing the Lez River (300m past the bridge, on your right: prehistoric dolmen).
For 6 km, the road follows the Ribérot Torrent with its abundant and colourful waters. High mountains, snow-capped most of the year, are omnipresent. On your left, the imposing granitic peak of Trémul, with its 2350m hight, is dominating the valley.The peak’s name comes from the word “tremere” which means trembling and evokes the frequent thunder at its summit. Cross the picturesque hamlet of Ayer. Follow the road until you get to the new Pla de la Lau parking area.

The waterfalls of the Ribérot Valley :

From the car park (provided with indication panels), take the path that follows the left bank of the torrent. You are now in the most important Pyrenean hunting preserve with its numerous Pyrenean chamois. Cross 2 footbridges to get to the right bank of the torrent. The lower waterfall of the Muscadet Valley (Pistoulet) partly appears on the left and, in the back, the Nérech Waterfall. Go across le Plagnou des Masquères which offers you magnificent views.On your right, fir trees are clinging to the canyon of the the Légnès Peak, (2 240m), which is rather exceptional in Ariège as the usual tree line is at an altitude of 1600 to 1700m. 
During three hours, the beautiful Ribérot Torrent pleasantly accompanies you on your way up. The last, rather difficult, ascent starts from above the Etang Rond Lake of which the emerald waters will delight your eyes and make you forget your tiredness.

La cascade de Peyralade  (waterfall) :

The path continues on the right bank of the torrent and enters a beech forest. A few minutes later, on your right on the opposite slopes, the beautiful Peyralade Waterfull will appear (100m vertical drop).

La tute de l'ours - chemin du Mt Valier

- La Tute de l'Ours

A few bends lead you to a peculiar shelter under a massive rock: the Tute de l'Ours (1150 metres) where animals and humans once sought protection. The name obviously reveals the presence of bears that still lived in the Renoué Forest, on the opposite torrent bank, fifty years ago. The Prince of Monaco used to hunt in this valley. Although the last bear was killed in 1928, tracks have recently been seen in the region as bears have recently been reintroduced. DO NOT be afraid, bears never attacks humans. 100 yards from the Tute de l'Ours, a path continues on the right bank. Do not take it as this leads to scree slopes with steep ascents and descents, frequently flooded. Follow the red and white signs and cross a wide bridge hidden behind an enormous rock. You are now on the old left bank path, used by shepherds and mountaineers alike for the last 70 years.
It follows the edge of the mysterious beech forest of Rénoué, scattered with great mossy rocks where, a long time ago, roamed bears who came from Spain.

Waterfalls on the way to the Mt Valier

- La cascade de Nérech (waterfall) :

Having passed some curious ‘blowing holes’, still on the left bank, the path exits the forest after a few bends and arrives at the foot of the Nérech 200-m high waterfall (1 300 metres - 01h). Cross the torrent by a wide footbridge, and the path passes a rock shelter before climbing the wall of smooth slabs through hairpin bends. Fine views of the waterfall during this climb. You then arrive at the top of the waterfall after an impressive traverse and then cross a wide shelf covered with raspberry bushes. Pick some of the delicious fruit but from this point view with binoculars the mountains meadows and névés at the foot of the peak of Rénoué. Large herds of izards are often seen in the mornings.

- La cascade de la Lauze  (waterfall) :

The path carries on through large blocks towards the waterfall of la Lauze, then by the left following several steep bends and across the top of a paved wall, then climbing amidst rhododendrons, first northwards, then southwards up to the ruined hut of Peyregude (1 700 metres - 02h20) destroyed 20 odd years ago by an avalanche from the granite walls of Trémul to which a few pine trees cling. A spring runs by the hut, an ideal location for a snack as this is almost the half-way point.

- The last ascent before the refuge des Estagnous

The path carries on towards the South-East though boulders dominating the torrent until you reach the hut of Caoussis (1 859 metres - 02h40).
Leave on your right hand side the horizontal path which leads to the round pool, walk past a rain gauge and climb a long series of steep bends. You now have fine views above the round pool and arrive at last at the refuge des Estagnous (2 240 metres - 04h).

Mountain lake : Étang Long - Mt Valier - Couserans

- Le site des Estagnous

Three small limpid pools (Estagnous) are seen just below the refuge.
Extensive views of the mountain-frontier (pics de Claouère, Sernaille, Trois Comtes, Girette, Barlonguère) with altitudes ranging from 2 700 to 2 800 metres.
Opposite the refuge and at the same altitude, on the other side of the valley, the ice of the long pool is visible until the end of August, which is mostly hidden by the ridge spreading from pic des Hêtres to pic de Rénoué (2 517 metres).

Le refuge des Estagnous : outdoor qualite label

It is manned from 1 May to 30 September - In May and October, weekends only
Contact refuge : 05 61 96 76 22

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- The ascent of Mont Valier from the refuge des Estagnous :

To begin with, follow the signs on the path which take you around the half circle of small pools rising eastwards, to the foot of the west wall of Mont Valier. Cross the screed and climb straight towards the Col de Faustin (view of the long pool).
Reaching a large basin often covered with névés, look for the bends of the path on your left on a grassy hillock.
Further up, the path climbs across the South slope of Valier cutting through steep and impressive passages and arrives at the Col de Faustin (2 653 metres - 05H20). Superb views of the ravine of Faustin, with 1 400 metres below, the bottom of the valley of Estours.
Climb northwards the gentle stony slope which leads to the summit of Mont Valier (2 838 metres - 06h). To return, retrace your steps as far as Estagnous

Bibliography :

- "Pyrénées ariégeoises, le Couserans" guide of 20 unmissable walks in the Couserans, édition Chamina
- "Le guide rando Ariège" walking guide by Jean-Pierre Siréjol published par Rando Editions
- "L'Ariège à pied, du piémont aux Pyrénées" 40 walks, published by the Fédération Française de Randonnée Pédestre
- "Les sentiers d'émilie en Ariège" published by Rando Editions

Cartography : 

IGN Top 25 n° 2048 OT Aulus-les-Bains - Mont Valier at 1/25 000
IGN n° 6 Couserans at 1/50 000

Useful links :

Club Alpin français des montagnards ariégeois

Site Gîtes d'étape et de séjour des Pyrénées