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Puerto de Beret

The most impressive thing to me, about this pas,s is the sweeping tundra plateau on top. Various ski lifts start on this plateau and reach up into the bare landscape of large rounded knobs. One could plan may ski tours or hikes from up here.  People who like to go skiing with the help of lifts usually expect a comfortable wide paved road to the bottom of the lift., and they get it in this case too. The other side is partially unpaved and leads down a high, wild and mostly forested valley, sometimes in a traverse. The name Beret applies to the ski area, the plateau, and the mountain pass.

1.(00.0km,0940m)START-END WEST:traffic circle at the western end of Vielha
2.(15.0km,1480m)profile diverts from road to Puerto de Bonaiqua in Bagergue
3.(21.8km,1890m)TOP: Puerto de Beret
4.(24.1km,1840m)approxiate start of unpaved section
5.(37.5km,1470m)trailheads to Port d'Aula
6.(49.9km,1170m)Isil
7.(52.0km,1120m)shortcut to Port de Bonaiqua is on right
8.(60.2km,0950m)START-END EAST:C13z rejoins mainroad, south of Estern d'Arneau


Approaches

From West.
From Vielha C28 leads up through an endless parade of vacation towns, each one consisting of solid, natural stone wall houses, organized around a church. With increasing elevation the ski infrastructure becomes more voluminous. By the time the road reaches Baquera the surroundings consist solely of ski condo high rises, built so close to one another you could have conversations between most of the apartments on the same floor. This is where a side road to Beret (also Plateau de Beret and Puerto de Beret) takes off to the north.

Nine switchbacks lead up the ridge. The ramps leading west give a perfect view of the valley of the Arriu de Ruda and the Puerto de Bonaiqua. The ramps leading east focus the view on the ridge behind Col du Portillon. From a geographic standpoint, Col du Portillon is said to cross the main ridge of the Pyrenees. When you cross it on a bike it hardly makes that impression. But from this vantage point, you could be convinced that this is actually so.

But back to ride up to the Porte de Beret. On the last switchback two snow pallisade tunnels complete the climb to the tundra plateau. Everywhere you look is mothballed skiing infrastructure. You are practically biking across a ski slope. But few, if any trees had to be cut down, since this area is completely above treeline already


From East. (described downwards). After a flat section on the plateau, the pavement ends. For the next part of the descent, a mountain bike is the appropriate vehicle. I did it on my touring bike - very slowly - and still broke a spoke.

The road quickly goes below treeline, and makes a large sinuous detour to the north. Peaks in the 2 thousand to 2.5 thousand meter range appear snow covered and cloud obscured regularly as background to alpine meadows. A major intersection of hiking trails and a refugio happens, as the road gets close to Port de Salau, relatively speaking. Actually, Port de Salau is located up high on the ridge to the north, even if on the map it looks very close.

Some time later, the presence of a large stone building below the ringing cattle signals the first improvement in surface. A road bike with big tires from now on is again a perfectly viable vehicle to travel down this valley. The road remains at the bottom if an incised V shaped valley. The paved section is long enough to take in three more remote villages. This time the villages are not hilltop towns, instead they sit defensless on the valley floor. The first one has a picturesque roman type arched bridge on its western exit: Alos d'Isil. Then the road cross a high notch, like a rifle sight, and drops down in a large sweep to the village Isil itself. The next village, Esterri d'Arneu, remains next to the road.  If the route leads directly back to Vielha, you also get a birds eye view of the same village, because there is another easily missed climb separating the two pass approaches. This is not shown in the profile. Instead it includes the lower approach towards Sort.


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A Dayride with this point as intermediate summit is on page: Port de Bonaiqua