The Col du Soulor climb is a beautiful mountain past that connects Argelès Gazost to the Col d’Aubisque. If you want to ride the Col d’Aubisque from the east, you will typically need to go up the Col du Soulor first. It is a beautiful climb and, with its history, must be visited if you are in the area of these legendary climbs.
Riding the Col du Soulor
It has been featured in the Tour de France many times and is a sort after climb for many amateur cyclists. It is overshadowed by the Col du Tourmalet and the Col d’Aubisque, but we believe it’s a climb you must do. Typically it is used to get to the summit of the Col d’Aubisque. To do this, you must first go up the Col du Soulor, descend for a kilometer, and climb up again on the cliff road. The quickest time on the Col du Soulor on Strava is currently 58.30 seconds, so if you’re a yellow jersey contender you know what you want to be beating.
It starts at Argelés-Gazost, and you have a 12 mile stretch to get to the height of 1019m elevation gain with an average gradient of 5.2%. The first village you will pass through is the Arras en Lavedan, a small beautiful village with a very small population and a little too soon to stop, but it is very beautiful. The next village is Estaing at 320m high, and there might be a good place to stop for a coffee if you are making a day of the climb. It does get steep at times and can kick up above 10% in the next section, but you will have nothing to worry about if you control the pace.
It’s a beautiful climb on a small narrow road, and when we say narrow, two cars could not easily pass each other. This might seem a little too small, but in its defense, it is very quiet, and typically you see very few cars even during the busy times of the day. The road looks over the valley and gives amazing views of the snow capped mountains ahead. The last place you will be able to get supplies will probably be the Arrens Marsous, and we recommend that you stop here and have a few calories if you are feeling tired or hungry.
The climb of the Col de Soulor smooth and does feel faster than the other two on this list. Being slightly less steep compared to the others, you do move quicker but not by too much. We feel it doesn’t get the credit it deserves because of its more aggressive neighbours. It is an excellent introduction to its tougher siblings but a tough ride in its own right. If you are all about a slower ride and taking in the sights. It’s actually is also one of the best birdwatching spots in the Pyrenees, so keep your eye on the skies too. The valley you climb is very green, but as you get higher, it slowly turns browner and browner as less struggles to grow at higher altitude.
At the top, there’s a small cafe with excellent views, and it is a great place for a coffee. You now have to make your mind up if you are going to descend back down or carry on to the Col du Aubisque and take them both on. If you plan to go riding Aubisque and continuing from the east side on ensure you have lights for the rock tunnels. If you do plan to descend the way back, we recommend keeping the speed down as the road is narrow and has no guards. There are some other amazing climbs in the area we recommend such as the Col de Spandelles, Col des Bordères, and of course the beautiful roads of the Col du Tourmalet.
This is our favourite route which takes in the Col d’Aubisque as well as the Soulor.