Col des Tentes (2,207)


col de la cayolle cycling


While Col du Tourmalet often garners much of the spotlight in La Vallée des Gaves, it arguably pales in comparison to the majestic Col des Tentes. Emerging directly from Gavarnie, the ascent immediately presents a series of rapid-fire switchbacks. These continue upward through dense forest until reaching the Station de Ski, where the terrain dramatically opens into a vast plain of solitude, offering a stark and stunning contrast.

Col des Tentes, a dead-end route, promises a peaceful ascent primarily accompanied by the local sheep and cows. These animals roam freely, often crossing the road and grazing alongside it, serving as a quaint reminder that you are very much a guest in their high-altitude home.

Despite its scenic and challenging route, the climb concludes somewhat anticlimactically at a nondescript parking lot. Nonetheless, Col des Tentes remains a spectacular climb, second only to the slightly more scenic Cirque du Troumouse in the area, with the popular Tourmalet trailing in third for its natural beauty and appeal.