The « Brèche de Rolland » is one of the most mythical hiking trails in the Pyrenees. Its particular geology offers an extremely atypical landscape. At 2806 meters above sea level, this gap, one hundred meters high and forty meters wide, marks the border between France and Spain.
THE HIKING French sloping
Average walking time: return trip 6 hours, excluding stops
From the car park, refuge des Sarradets: 2 hours
From the refuge to the breach: 1 hour
Positive gradiants : 600 meters
Difficulty: This hike is easy access to a hike of high mountains one, very frequented during the summer
Recommended equipment: Crampons, ice ax, sticks
Legend has it that in the time of Charlemagne, at the battle of Roncevaux, Knight Rolland, before dying, tried to break his sword « Durandal » on a rock so as not to be taken by the Saracens. When the blade crashed, rather than breaking, it opened a breach in the mountain just above the circus of Gavarnie.
The starting point of the hike is in the car park of the “Col des Tentes” where you can leave your vehicle. It is advisable to wear high rod mountain shoes to protect your ankles and semi-rigid soles with crampon to be comfortable both on the scree and in the snow. Do not forget to take water in your bag, clothe to cover, especially a windbreaker jacket when you reach the breach because the wind engulfs right through the gap.
Take the old road to « Port de Boucharou » (only available on foot), then take the road on the left towards the « Refuge des Sarradets ».
This path will lead you to the foot of a rocky bar in which flows a small waterfall. You can follow the metal chains and use them to help you climb. Be careful to take good support not to slip because the rock has polished over time and slips when it gets wet.
From this point, there is no road or signage, but hikers mark their passage leaving small pyramids of stone. This is called a cairn, and you can add your own « stone to the edifice » to leave a trace of your passage.
Once passed the waterfall, there are a few laces and one last steep climb before arriving at the Col des Sarradets. You can see the Pic du Taillon, the refuge and the slabs of the Sarradets (these two crabs whose various states can be observed). These impressive slabs are well-known among mountain and rock climbers since their climbing routes are not less than 200 meters high.
A few steps later, you will arrive at the refuge, perched on a rocky platform. Take a short break before attacking the last climb. You may see a few campers below; it is even probable that yellow-billed jackdaws and marmots come to say hello and steal a bit of your snack.
Here we go again! More than an hour of walking and you will reach the goal! On this last steep and slippery part, it will be necessary to cross what remains of the glacier. In summer when the eternal snows melt, the remaining snow patches are called neves. Depending on weather conditions and terrain conditions, it is preferable to use at least crampons and sticks, see an ice ax.
The summit, offers an extraordinary view, a 360 ° panorama between France and Spain. The place is always very windy, the air is pure, we almost want time to stop to contemplate the chain of Pyrenees from North to South: Pic du Vignemale, Pic du Néouvielle, Cylindre du Marbore, Mount Perdu, Gabiétous , Ordeza, Punta Tabacor, Sierra de las Cutas …
From the Breach it is possible to further and lengthen the hike and go as far as Taillon, counting two extra hours (return trip).
The return is by the same route.