ADESFRw – Pic de Médecourbe (2914m)

Unlike its eastern counterpart the western tripoint of Andorra is uncontested and is noted within the treaty as the summit of Pic de Médecourbe (2914m). In the community of border enthuisiasts this tripoint is less well visited due to its remoteness and altitude. A lot of my research prior to my visit was drawn from hiking websites, although Eef Bern’s website provided the much needed border information here. It is possible to approach from each of the 3 countries. From Spain one follows the GR11 trail from the Vall Ferrera Refuge to Refugi de Baiau (J.M. Monfort Refuge). From there, go with the GR11.1 variant until you reach Collada dels Estanys Forcats – the pass between Roca Entravessada and Pic de Medecourbe. (this is where my route joins #6 on the map below). The route from France is probably the most difficult starting from the Carla orris car park and following the trail north around to the Étang de Soulcem and then steeply climbing up to the Port de Médécourbe. The route to the top involves some gully climbing and exposure along the ridge to the summit and tripoint.

I made the decision to approach the summit from Arinsal in Andorra, it looked on paper to be the most straightforward approach for a days hike. In the end it took me under 8 hours (there and back) and was straightforward up to the Collada dels Estanys Forcat (2745 m), the col that marks the border between Andorra and Spain. The route then to the summit was short but steep, involving scrambling and some exposure on the top. This tripoint is not one for the inexperienced hill walker nor someone who is not confident about route finding and being alone (by some distance) in the mountains.

The route up

Parking at the very top of Arsinal (#1 on the map) after driving through the avalanche protection tunnel locals call the great wall of China the trail starts alongside the Ribal river and a waterfall and the trail rises steeply. After a short period I arrived at Font del Moixo, a fountain which was much appreciated on the way down as I had run out of water by that stage. (#2 on the map)

Picking up the GR 11 and then the GR11.1 routefinding was straightforward with painted symbols frequenting the route.

Pla de L’estany is one of the highlights of the trek, a beautiful setting with a refuge (#3 on the map) (great for overnight stays and can be used as a base for this trek), a lake framed by the corrie walls which were formed in the last ice age. The GR 11.1 becomes steeper here and winds up to the waterfall (#4 on the map) at the head of the corrie.

After the waterfall the gradient becomes easier as the path follows the contours more. It however becomes more rocky before reaching the Estany Forcat glacial lakes (#5 on the map) where the path (still well marked) continues over large bolders until it reaches the Collada dels Estanys Forcat which marks the border between Andorra and Spain. (#6 on the map). Still some snow in August!!

Up to the summit and tripoint

Route finding becomes important here. Walking slightly into Spain and turning north it was possible (just) to see a faint intermittant path marked by cairns that lead up towards the summit ridge (#7 on the map). Its a steep pull up with some scrambling towards the top. Great views throughout back. Roca Entrevessada  looks imposing on the other side of the col.

ADESFRw

Finally after nearly 5 hours the tripoint is reached. #19 for me. The treaty mentions a marker, but there is none here, just a cairn and a metal rod which marks the point where the 3 countries meet. Fantastic views into all 3 countries.

Looking west along the ridge
Looking east along the ridge.
A poignant memorial
Looking west along the ridge
Views into Andorra with Arinsal in the distance.
Views into Spain with the Estany de Baiau and refuge.
Views into France down the Soulcem vally.

Date of Visit: 14.08.2020

References:

  1. The bordermarkers of the Pyrenees : all markers ( Eef Berns) Website here

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