#7Countries7Passes Day 14 - The Final Climbs to The Finish Line

The final day of a challenge often seems to be either a jubilant parade, or a fight of fortitude to reach the finish line. The final day of the #7Countries7Passes tour was very much the latter.

Starting out from the Corbieres, the route would take me deep into the Pyrenees; to the finish line at the top of the Port d'Envilara, at the Andorra border.

The day started out damp, and it wasn't five minutes before I had pulled on my waterproof.

The first few climbs in the Corbieres were nothing compared with what was to come; but they served as a warm up for the legs; as well as a reminder that those legs have done close to 3,000 kilometres in the last two weeks.

Today I had Gus following me in the Land Rover, to capture the spirit of the trip, on the final day of the challenge. I was super grateful to have a friendly face accompanying me.

A café stop, a puncture, and road works all slowed progress a bit, and it was 14:00 before we hit the long dragging ascent to the foot of the Col de Pailheres - a 2,001 metre pass that would take us to the heart of the Pyrenees.

Once on the climb proper, my average speed plummeted; as the fatigue, gradient and headwind truly surfaced.

Conditions deteriorated closer and closer to the summit. By the time we were on the exposed top sections, the rain and wind had reduced visibility to just a few metres. Mind, legs and hands frozen. I couldn't get my gloves off to take an Instagram pic at the top, but thankfully had Gus to do the honours.

We descended down to Ax Les Thermes, and pulled into the nearest coffee shop. I ordered a huge café chocolat chaud, and a waffle, and sat clutching the sugary drink; trying to bring feeling back into my hands and mind.

One more climb to go.

It was 18:00 by the time I eventually started the final ascent of Port d'Envilara. The fog was still present, but luckily the rain had subsided a bit. Lights on, head down; fuelled by coffee and sugar, I turned onto the gradient.

It took two and half hours before I eventually reached the summit. I have never been so grateful to have a friend accompany me, as I was on that final ascent; having Gus in the Land Rover just behind was reassurance, encouragement and safety.

Reaching the deserted peak at just before 21:00, we captured the moment in the headlights of the Defender. It truly has been an incredible, diverse and unique adventure; this finish line finale in many ways seemed like a perfect representation of that.

I will write up a summary blog soon, when I have a laptop and all the photos to hand. 7 Countries. 7 Passes. Hundreds of beautiful memories.


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