SOTA: Pierre Beille (F/MC-240)

map of Pierre Beille
Pierre Beille summit (left) and closest approach along the road (right)

To find this peak, I went with the summit coordinates provided on the SOTA site and looked on GoogleMaps for the nearest road. The road I found runs to the east of the peak and is unnamed.

It was a relatively short ride from Les Cornes d’Urfé, but I should mention that the access road is mostly dirt and narrow in some places. It winds through a logging area, through a dense pine forest. Every now and then, there are large piles of pine trunks. As I drove down the road kicking up dust, I got to the point due east of the summit and then went a bit more without seeing any trails towards the summit. However, when I backtacked about 200m from the position to the east of the summit, I saw where the road branched upward.

Location of the side road, with rental car parked on the right.
Looking northward, the side road is on the left in the shadows.

The path to the top

Even the bottom of that branch road was too rough for my rental car, so I parked it off to one side and trotted up the side road. I did not see any sort of name on the side road, but I came across this marking, which I interpret as a message from the french cycling federation to mean that cyclists should not attempt this road. This is good advice, because aside from a steep slope at points and loose rocks, there are a few places where entire tree trunks have fallen across the road.

french cycling federation metal sign with a big red "x" through it

The road continues to climb in a direction leading to the east of the summit, at times resembling a road, but at other times, just melting into a forest path that does not appear all that worn. When my GPS indicated that I was about east of the summit, I saw a more narrow, furrowed path taking off in the right direction.

furrow path leading upwards

Following that path, I came to a place where paths intersected from the cardinal directions, presumably along a ridge. So, there must be other ways of reaching this peak, although they do not seem to be marked on the topo maps of the area that I was able to find.

topographic map of Pierre Beille and surrounding area

On the air

Again, there were plenty of tall pine trees, and the end-fed antenna was up in no time. I found a comfortable log to sit on and worked 18 QSOs on 40m, and another 5 on 20m, roughtly the same proportion as earlier in the day from Les Cornes d’Urfé. Again, I had a summit-to-summit contact with CT7/HB9BIN/P on 20m.

Pot-belly Pete

As I was walking back down to the car, I wondered what the summit was named after. At first, I thought “Pierre” might have be a reference to a rock of some sort, it being a peak, but the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that it’s a name: Pierre as in the french equivalent of Peter. As for Beille, I know there is a Plateau de Beille near the eastern Pyrenees, but that is a different area. I found one reference that it suggested it as a nickname for a portly man (I wonder if it has some relation to the English word “belly”). So, while I might be entirely off base with this assumption, I now think of this summit as “Pot-belly Pete Peak”.

Next stop: Le Pic Pelé.

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