Pointe Jean Santé - The South-east
Ascent: The Pombie refuge is built at the foot of the southern slope and is the best starting point for climbing the massif. It was on 8 May 1953 that A. Armengaud and J. Ravier discovered this very imaginative route which would very quickly become a leading classic route in the Pyrenean chain.
After the refuge follow the trail for the Suzon pass and climb Large Raillère to the foot of the route. It takes 30 minutes.
The start is located slightly to the left of the lowered face of the system of chimneys of the Jolly route. Climb a dihedral barred by a juniper (UK-4a /US-5.5) which leads to a party ledge. Descend the tilted slab which continues towards the east, and after a difficult crossing (IV +), go up a system of cracks in the same direction (III +) ; after a depression, pass a spur under an overhang (UK-4a /US-5.5) and continue along the ledges towards the (II) right. At their end, climb a friction slab (V +) then the Escaliers Gris (IV +). Continue on two pitches via a dihedral (V +, UK-5a /US-5.8). It leads to a large party ledge. Continue the dihedrals -chimneys on two pitches (IV +, UK-5a /US-5.8). After having surmounted a short vertical wall, start diagonally to the left via steps (IV +). A short strenuous dihedral (IV +) leads to a small party ledge. Climb the crack which follows over ten meters (UK-5a /US-5.8); do not continue, but traverse a narrow monolithic ledge on the right. Pass a spur (UK-5a /US-5.8) which leads to the foot of deep chimney-corridors (since the above system is invisible before the traverse, numerous rope parties continue in the crack and encounter serious difficulties!). Go up the chimney-corridors on three pitches (UK-4a /US-5.5, steps of UK-5a /US-5.8). They lead to the notch of the Aiguillette Jolly. Cross the notch and surmount a vertical wall (UK-5a /US-5.8). Traverse inclined slabs towards the left (UK-3a /US-5.3). Pass a spur to reach a rappel point (25 meters) which finishes in a cirque. It takes from 4 to 6h.
The route does not lead to a summit as such, but you can reach the summit of Pointe Jean Santé without much difficulty. At the foot of the rappel, you reach the crest while moving towards a characteristic pinnacle, the Pentagone. To the west of it go up a short chimney of unstable boulders (UK-3a /US-5.3) to reach a broad ledge on the northern side of the ridge which dominates the Pombie-Suzon corridor. Pass a cornice (UK-3a /US-5.3) and you reach the summit of the Pointe Jean Santé without difficulty (add 30 minutes to the above time span).
Bibliography: P. Dupouey, Escalades au Pic d’Ossau. R. Munsch, C. Ravier, R. Thivel, Passages Pyrénéens, Editions du Pin à Crochets.
Descent: After having carried out 25 meter rappel which finishes in a cirque, traverse the party ledges formed by the cirque (I, II) and reach the terraces which move south. Follow them (cairns), descend a ramp, go up a short vertical dihedral (UK-3a /US-5.3), pass the spur by descending steps towards the south-west (II, UK-3a /US-5.3). A small dihedral (UK-3a /US-5.3) and other steps that are downclimbed lead to a large party ledge (cairn). Climb down grey rocks to the right and after having traversed a well marked corridor, you go up others. Descend a small chimney-corridor until a juniper, always traverse towards the right under a flake area (UK-3a /US-5.3) and go back to a small notch. Cross it. Other ledges cut by a step (UK-3a /US-5.3) lead to a party ledge which dominates a broad herbish cirque. Carry out a 40 meter rappel to reach it. From there, descend to reach Grande Raillère. This described course corresponds to the descent of the Vires route. Time 1h30.
From the summit of the Pointe Jean Santé, downclimb the steps of the western facet (UK-3a /US-5.3) to reach the Jean Santé notch. Do not go completely right in the direction of the Pombie muraille, but traverse horizontally to the right (orographic) towards a small notch behind which you will find a short corridor which gives access to a line of 3 rappels on pitons (to be checked) in the Pombie Peyreget corridor. Then you reach grass and snow slopes which lead without difficulty to the Grande Raillère. It takes 1h30.
The south-east, as its name indicates is in the sun from the morning.
The advanced route covers 500m and remains unrelenting in UK-5a /US-5.8.
It is one of the most beautiful climbs of the Pyrenean chain.
Access: From Pau, you reach the Vallée d’Ossau. Pombie refuge is accessible in 1 h 30 from the Anéou parking lot, located near the pass of Pourtalet or in 2 h from Caillou de Socques.
Accommodation: Pombie refuge, property of the C.A.F. (Tel.: 05 59 05 31 78). Even if the round trip climb can easily be accomplished in one day, it is a good idea to stay a few days to climb in Ossau. The beauty of the rock, the contrast between the north and south slopes of the peak and the quality of the routes that you can find are the main reasons.
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