A long ridge with a stunning panorama
For years I’ve gazed at this summit (image 1), wondering how to get there as there’s no direct path marked on the maps. It’s a relatively easy summit on a long ridge that lies between the valley of the Garbet (the section running from Ercé to Aulus) and the Courtignou valley (the D18) from Massat up to the étang de Lers.
At 1745m it’s not especially high but you get a 360 degree panorama of both the summit chain and the surrounding valleys. The final bit is steep and the tiny summit feels somewhat exposed, especially when peering down the scarp of the eastern flank. The route I’ve given starts at the étang de Lers (between Le Port and Aulus).
Park at the lower (western) end of the étang de Lers, and almost opposite the wooden pier you’ll see a forestry path (with a ‘no entry’ to vehicles). Take this track through the forest and don’t miss the left hand fork that rises more steeply up to Col Dret. At Col Dret, the landscape opens out with a good view of Mont Valier. From here, take the path up to the right that’s initially the same path as the long distance Tour du Val du Garbet, towards Courtal d’Arbeit (but don’t veer right for the Courtal).
You must then keep roughly to the top of the ridge or keep it just to your right, avoiding the Tour path as it drops down to the left. The views open out, sweeping over the Garbet valley and Ercé towards the ever-present Mont Valier.
Once you’re on the ridge (some fencing runs alongside it here and there) then you stay on it. There are a few rocky outcrops to scramble over (image 2) and clumps of bracken to fight your way through, until you’re finally in sight of the grassy ridge leading up to the summit of Tuc de la Coume. Further ahead on the ridge is the lower summit of Balmiou at 1611m. There are sweeping views over the forested ridges around Massat.
The summit has a touching memorial (image 3) to Christian whom I’m told died thereabouts when a cornice (overhang of snow) collapsed. For that reason, I wouldn’t attempt this walk when there is snow on the ridge.
It can take around 3 hours from the lake to the summit with stops, and around two to get back down.