Jean Marc Dumont was a new and promising star in our field and now he has already reached his zenith: on 4 september he did his very last bordermarker: bm602 (with a kayak). And he did them all astonishingly fast: in 3 years!
“The sunglasses to hide a little teardrop” – JMD
I already introduced Jean Marc (aka Marko) in the previous post and though he expected to finish in 2024, he apparently – like a sprinter – accelerated in sight of the finish.
How does Jean Marc feel about it? Well, he wrote me that he expected to feel proud but it was rather a feeling of sadness, now it’s all over: ‘quand c’est fini, c’est fini’. But he will certainly come back to the Pyrenees, not forgetting the bordermarkers. I liked very much his own certificate:
And now we can add him to the honoray list of all the brave men and women who did them all:
Javier and María-Jesús Sancho-Esnaola (estimation: 2010)
Charles and Josette Darrieu (estimation: 2010)
Jacques Koleck (2014)
Myself (first round 2014, second round 2022)
Michel Molia (2018)
Alain Gillodes (june 2021)
Corinne Gourgeonnet (september 2021)
Jean Marc Dumont (september 2023)
Thank you, Jean Marc, for sharing your adventures, all the best for the future and who knows: someday we might come across each other, somewhere ….. at the border.
A tip from Corinne Gourgeonnet: Jean Marc Dumont, a young man of 64 who is also aspiring to do all esfr-markers. He once started as a co-walker along the bordermarkers and now continues on his own with impressive trips on his MTB or by foot.
As a former air traffic controller, he retired at an early age (the ultimate dream of every Frenchman, so it seems) and never regretted that a single moment.
Now he has covered 74% of all esfr-bm’s (using the “parfait” excel-sheet on this page) and he expects to finish next year. That implies that he can well be the first to complete the esfr-bordermarkers after Corinne in 2021 and before Carlos & Conchita Roca, Sébastien Marc and Jérôme Loubière.
So far, only bm425 has given serious problems, getting in rough terrain and in fact in danger.
Special notice: he has his own mini-camper for his bm-outings: the MarKomobile which made me instantaneously jealous.
No blog, no website but you can still follow his adventures and progress on Strava. Good luck Jean Marc and let us know when you are approaching the finish.
See for the update-details: http://www.grpdesbf.nl/esfr-html-miscellania-updatelog.html
The ultimate highlight of last year was swimming to bm602:
I have now visited every bordermarker at least twice with at least one year difference.
Will that be a farewell to the Pyrenees? Not at all. There will always be a reason – at least for old times’ sake – to travel to these cherished mountains and their bordermarkers. My next trip will be soon: see https://www.grpdesbf.nl/esfr-html-miscellania-to-do.html
The weather is softening, the snow is melting and the days are getting longer. The time has come to plan new Pyrenees-trips along the bordermarkers. Who are the main players in the heroïc field of finding all esfr-markers? A list of the current 9 men/women who did them all, can be found on this page and more elaborate on this webpage.
Let’s start with my friends Carlos and Conchita Roca from Barcelona.
They have made significant progress in the last years including finishing the Pyrénées Orientales and almost the western Pyrenees. But now they are facing the long hikes in the high mountains of the central Pyrenees. We can check their results on this map.
If I import their results in an excel-file, they have still 55 bm’s to go = 92% done
Then we have the two cousins Sébastien Marc and Jérôme Loubière (see this post).
Sébastien (left) has covered 90% of all esfr-bordermarkers and considering his young age and athletic fitness, I think he will finish first.
Finally, Jérôme Loubière (right) has a slower but not necessarily less persistent pace. I estimate his progress at being 60%.
Today I swam to bm602, the last of the esfr-bordermarkers in a cave on the Mediterranean coast. Accessible only by boat or by swimming.
I trained this summer in open water swimming and after a failed trial a few days ago, I succeeded today in good weather and a calm sea. And thanks to the directions of Corinne Gourgeonnet who made the trip twice with her son Arthur.
With bm602 doing for the second time (first time by boat on 21-5-2011), I have completed my ‘quest’ to do all esfr-bordermarkers twice with at least one year interval. I guess I am the first person on the planet earth who has done this. You might ask: why? I always respond with: ‘why not’. But now it’s enough.
I will return to the Pyrenees nevertheless, there is always a reason to come back to these marvelous mountains and revisit bordermarkers, just for the fun of it.
Carlos and Conchita Roca (website) are proceeding steadily on their quest to do all esfr-bordermarkers. They started in the eastern Pyrenees years ago; the only marker missing there was bm602. But yesterday bm602 was finally conquered: see their own story.
Bm602 is a special one: in a cave along the Mediterranean coast, it is only accessible by boat or swimming. But recently Carlos managed to hire a boatsman from Llança to bring them to the cave. The entrance to the cave is too narrow for a regular boat so you have to swim or use a canoe for the last part.
And that was what they did on 13 august: Carlos and Conchita in a canoe and their son David and his ‘novia’ Noelia swimming, making it a family experience to cherish. In this picture, they are close to the inlet which gives access to the cave.
And here they are proudly posing before the plaque of bm602.
And then returning to the boat in the same way.
After the boat trip, reason enough to enjoy a paëlla meal.
Thus Carlos and Conchita have now covered all bordermarkers between Andorra and the Mediterranean. They have also done almost all bordermarkers on the other side of the Pyrenees (Basque country, no. 1-272).
See this new webpage to see who has done all bordermarkers or one or two of the three main subdivisions.
This marker is relatively young. It was placed in 1997 after a Spanish engineer had discovered that the borderline between bm420 and 421 was presented wrongly on the maps and didn’t follow the real watershed. See this page for the whole story.
At my first visit in 2011, bm420bis was still in perfect health after 14 years:
But only 2 years later, the upper half was broken off by brute force. See this blog-post
In 2018 Corinne Gourgeonnet visited bm420bis and found both parts neatly against each other:
Now we are four years later. Corinne Gourgeonnet completed her full range of esfr-bordermarkers last year but can’t forget the esfr-bordermarkers. While walking the 5-days cross-border Pass’Aran-trail , she couldn’t help to revisit bm420bis.
And as you see: the upper half has now disappeared, probably tossed down the mountainside.
A famous quote from a famous dutch poet: anything of value is vulnerable.
I’m pleased to announce a new update of my website on the bordermarkers of the Pyrenees.
See for the update details: http://www.grpdesbf.nl/esfr-html-miscellania-updatelog.html
Gradually I am approaching the end of my project to visit en document all esfr-bordermarkers. And to design a coast-to-coast hiking trail that connects the bordermarkers: the GRPdesBF.
I have visited almost every bordermarker at least twice while checking access & progress routes. For September a few markers remain for a second visit, the winter is for finally writing my walking guide.
Will that be a farewell to the Pyrenees? Not at all. There will always be a reason – at least for old times’ sake – to travel to these cherished mountains and their bordermarkers.
The esfr-bordermarkers in the Basque country are not safe. Recently the markers 76 and 100 have disappeared and no. 101 has been broken off:
For Basque nationalists, the esfr-border should be non-existent, cutting in half a region that should be an independent whole. There is an iconic picture of the ‘execution’ of bm098 in which a group of masked nationalists is watching the executioner.
Is this the reason that its bordermarkers are relatively more damaged or have more often disappeared than in other regions? We don’t know. Let’s not forget the temptation of ‘le désir de détruire’ which is of all times.
Anyway: on my latest trip to the Basque country in April 2022, I discovered that bm100 has disappeared:
And its neighbor no. 101 has been broken off:
Carlos Roca (website) inspected the crime scene with a forensic eye. He identified the whitish edge of the fracture area as being the result of a portable grinding saw. Having thus grinded a wedge, it’s easy to break the bm off:
The disappearance of bm076 was reported in july 2021 by Michel Molia (see this post):
Together we visited the spot and searched in vain the valley underneath the ridge, the so-called ‘Gorospil-cemetery‘
Altogether, we have now 8 cases of the 288 Basque-bordermarkers (nos. 1-272, including submarkers) which have disappeared or have been severely damaged:
– 067: shattered in pieces
– 076: disappeared
– 098: shattered in pieces
– 100: disappeared
– 101: broken off
– 236: disappeared
– 255: disappeared in 2007
– 271bis: disappeared
Pleased to announce a new update of my main site, covering the 11 day trips I did in September 2021. See for the details this page.
A lot of information and pictures, it might be a bit too much. If I may suggest two picks:
– 6 September: my longest day trip ever in terms of time (13 hours)
– 11 September: Corinne Gourgeonnet visiting her very last bordermarker, no. 311