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Col d'Aubisque

Col d'Aubisque is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 1.709m (5,607ft) above the sea level, located in the Pyrenees, in the department of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, in the Aquitaine region of France. The pass is traversed by the spectacular D918 road. It’s one of the French balcony roads.

The road is bordered on one side by cliffs and on the other side by a drop of hundreds of meters (many hundreds of feet). It connects Laruns, in the valley of the Gave d'Ossau, via Eaux-Bonnes (west) to Argelès-Gazost, in the valley of the Gave de Pau, via the Col du Soulor (east). This road is generally closed from December to June but it can be closed anytime when the access is not cleared of snow. The road crosses the extremely narrow Cirque du Litor, in the upper part of the Ouzom valley. There is a café at the summit which is open year round. It is a popular lunch destination with cyclists.
The road is difficult and it’s a nightmare in the wet or dark (or both). Together with the Tourmalet and the Galibier, the Aubisque is one of the great legendary climbs of the Tour de France. The climb has been featured in the Tour de France many times. It runs as a single track road along the mountainside for some distance with nowhere to pass another vehicle. Here one says a prayer that nobody is coming towards you until the road widens some kilometres further.

This road is one of the most famous balcony roads in the country. A balcony road is a hair-raising lane cut into the sides of sheer cliffs. It’s a kind of road not for those who fear heights. There is little room for error on these roads. Drive with care as this is a mountain road with hairpin curves and narrow unlit tunnels. When you take this road as picturesque as it is narrow, with its many suprising meanders, drive carefully, and above all don't miss the parking spaces that have been provided. There are 2 routes to reach the summit. Starting from Laruns, the ascent is 16.6 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 1.190 meters. The average percentage is 7.2 %. The first kilometers, till spa resort Eaux-bonnes, are fairly easy. It is only when you reach the Cascade de Valentin that things get really hard with a piece of 13%. From there till the top, it's 8 km at 8% average. And starting from dal Soulor, the ascent is 30.1 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 1.247 meters. The average percentage is 4.1 %. 

 

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