- Time7h 0'
- Vertical rise1230 m
- Vertical descent1230 m
- Horizontal distance8,5 Km
- Type of journeyReturn
- Severity of the natural environment4
- Difficulty in movement5
- Amount of effort required4
This route starts at Larribet refuge (2072 m) in a south-easterly direction following the obvious HRP (High Pyrenean Footpath) path that is marked until Lavedán pass with painted markings (which-red-white) and cairns. Shortly after leaving the refuge we climb a short hill to get over the foothills leading to Garanère ridge and then over Lou d'era Claou (crossing with route 12). We then follow the east side of Lac de Batcrabère (2215 m) going up the header stream to find the Micoulaou lakes (2320 m) (crossing with routes 09, 13 and 29). At these small lakes we leave the HRP and bear left where there is no clear path, towards Col Noir. There is a cairn indicating the point where we leave the path, although we will have to keep a sharp lookout because it is not very obvious. This section has hardly any path but the cairns and our sense of direction will guide us towards the pass. Beneath the Punta dera Barana rock face we gain altitude, crossing areas of small gravel and unstable stones. The final part before the pass is particularly strenuous, and reaching Col Noir (2626 m) requires a lot of effort. This area may be covered with snow until well into the summer.
We drop down a few metres through a gap in the opposite side to walk along the start of Gran Diagonal, from where we start the final ascent of Balaitús. The path is obvious and is well-marked. This path will take us to André Michaud shelter (2698 m), which is a fitted out cave located at the start of the ledge the Gran Diagonal follows. From here on, although the ascent is not technically difficult, there is a feeling of an empty void beneath us and the unstable ground and possibility of falling stones make it rather more demanding that other areas. The final part requires a scramble and although its difficulty is not rated as grade III, it is not suitable for all mountaineers. Furthermore, when there is snow or ice or in bad weather, this route becomes much more difficult and exposed. You should therefore take care.
After the first stretch over boulders and a steep climb, after Michaud shelter, we reach a wide grassy area with a well-marked path. The Gran Diagonal itself starts shortly afterwards. Right at the start we will have to go over two rather exposed passes, that are easy providing that the rock is dry. We then tackle the narrow cornice, near the rock face, and progress between rocks and over loose stones. Further on, a few metres before we reach Isards gap, we can see a jagged needle pointing upwards to our right. We have to head for the right shoulder of the needle and to do so we will have to leave the path and scramble over some whitish rocks. We first overcome a narrow passage between two big boulders and then a rather harder, although less exposed, climb. The chimney finally takes us to the north ridge. The difficulties are now behind us and we reach the summit of Balaitús (3146 m) walking along an easy ridge.
The way back down is on the same route. We need to pay attention and not miss the path, since this can lead to the risk of falling. The use of helmets is very necessary because of the risk of falling stones, and tackling this route when there is snow is not recommended. It is therefore a good idea to ask for information at the refuge.