Monday, January 26, 2009

Classic Climbing W-End in Cataluña

First, we looked for ice. The plan was good, a 400-m ice fall with a respectful finish and inspiring name - Islantis in Val de Boi. Here is one of the protagonists, Jorge, contemplating in awe the plutonian idea of ICE:

The contingency of the environment proved us wrong though - after a rainy night, ice disappeared altogether from the Spanish territory and we were left with running water, fresh snow, and a wind storm...The valiant mountaineers became even more valiant and serious:

The mountaineering failure was successfully converted into a hiking and fighting exercise, although for once friendship prevailed:

To improve on the climbing failure, the second day was a compensation for the two remaining valiant mountaineers in a less valiant, but nevertheless climbing exercise, of sport clipping in Montserrat. The climbing paradise did not let us down:

In conclusion, it is all about how wisely you choose your objectives!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Benedetti Minute

El niño que no vino
tiene los labios fuertes
tiene las manos tiernas
el alma como nube
no es nadie
es sólo un niño
saca viejas monedas
del bolsillo de Dios
se parece a la madre
su misma risa ancha
su corazón a saltos
juega con los silencios
y con ellos hace otros
y se aburre
el niño que no vino
no viene
porque cree
que todo el que aquí nace
no se muere

Voy a cerrar los ojos en voz baja
voy a meterme a tientas en el sueño.
En este instante el odio no trabaja
para la muerte que es su pobre dueño
la voluntad suspende su latido y yo me siento lejos, tan pequeño
que a Dios invoco, pero no le pido nada,
con tal de compartir apenas
este universo que hemos conseguido
por las malas y a veces por las buenas.
¿Por qué el mundo soñado no es el mismo
que este mundo de muerte a manos llenas?
Mi pesadilla es siempre el optimismo: me duermo débil,
sueño que soy fuerte, pero el futuro aguarda. Es un abismo.
No me lo digan cuando me despierte.

(thx to Jorge for discovery, more of Benedetti's poetry here)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Formigal Skiing

When the climbing partner is down with flu, the plan B can easily become skiing at this time of the year. That is the short story for this w-end that saw me taking up the old habit of long drives (4 hrs) to visit Aragon and its ski resort of Formigal, at the French border and facing the magestic Pic du Midi d´Ossau below:

Although the promissed fresh snow apparently chose to cover Madrid´s Barajas airport instead of the ski resort, the skiing was still good, especially on Sunday, when i managed to even climb an arete on a by-standing pinnacle (picture below from pinnacle) to use up the remaining 3cm of fresh powder and pretend i´m ski touring. One way or another, the point is being made that Pyrenees skiing and scenery have nothing to envy the Alps ones!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Andermatt Ski Travel

Ski touring or travelling through Switzerland, this small and hilly country selon Douglas Adams, is as good to end the year as one can wish.

We started in Oberrickenbach, near Engelberg, with the purpose of using up all the Switzerland maps left in the cupboard for so long. Relaxed loop took us to the hut where we hoped to sleep, but it proved full. We had to do another 600m up the col and go back at night to the car - a good intense way to start the holidays.

Next stop on the list, or the base for travel - the village of Andermatt, le pot de chambre de Suisse, as it usually snows for any reason there. We started a relaxed day skiing around the Gemstock station and going to the Vermigelhutte in the end of the day. It was the only refuge we found unguarded on this trip. Apparently all the Swiss decided to go up the mountain during this holiday time. The biggest surprise came in form of two swiss ski tourers coming with their carrots, onions, sauce and all the cooking ustensils for a great pasta - that they shared with the crowd! Those people know how to live and how to ski tour, no comments but a big thanks.

Next day, we traversed to another valley, went up the Ravetsch, and down to the Maighelshutte, a guarded happy place with running water and very tasty jambonaut. But the most tasty during the day was the descent from Ravetsch (picture from the top), with probably the best fresh powder i have ever experienced while ski touring.

Unfortunately the good weather decided to abandon us at this point, and the next day, instead of going for Badus or any other mountain, we went down to the village of Tschamut and back to Andermatt by train (blessed country where you ski down to a train station, and than ski from the train station back to your hotel!)

Next, we went up from Realp village to the Rotondohutte , apparently another popular destination despite all the going up required to reach it. They did not have place for us for the New Year celebration, and we had to go back down through a glacier valley to Oberwald and back to Realp by train again. Below is Ren enjoying the river traverse on the long way down

We started the year at Flaines, with perfect snow and fresh powder.