Then all hell breaks out. What feels like hurricane force winds hit us face on. Any tracks left by the others vanish in seconds. We manage only a few steps at a time before we dig ice axes into the snow and brace ourselves for the next gust which tries to rip us off the planet. We have to keep going. We are beyond the point of no return and safety lies ahead of us not behind us.
I first visited the lofty summits of the Sierra Nevada in April 2000. Predictably we were greeted with lots of sun and snow. It blew our minds and had us rushing back time and again for more. Since then I have had the pleasure of experiencing these mountains in all weathers, at all times of the year. I never tire of them. Thankfully these mountains have become my job. But the enthusiasm never dies.
Sometimes it takes a great effort to leave the comfort of one’s home and head for the cold, icy peaks. Some hardship though, is always rewarded by the mountains. Although we have passed it several times we had never thought to spend a night at the ruins of the relatively unknown Cebollar Refugio, located at 2500m in the heart of the Sierra Nevada. Until a few weeks ago that is.
There is no finer place to enjoy a day’s snowshoeing after recent snowfall than above Puente Palo in the pine forests of the Alpujarras. Last week we were privileged to enjoy the company of a family from the USA, as we guided them on a days snowshoeing. We parked at the recreation site at Puente Palo, above the village of Cañar. We accessed on another dirt track from Lanjaron. With care a normal saloon car could reach this spot but the road conditions do deteriorate depending on the severity of recent rains.
The 10 Commandments from a dog’s perspective My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful. Give me time to understand what you want of me Place your trust in me.. It is crucial for my well-being. Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment, but I have only you.
In December 2002 I packed my pickup truck with my worldly possessions, my black labrador dog (Rocky - the original El Perro Negro) and headed south. I never looked back. The first place I arrived at was Lanjaron in the Alpujarras and funnily enough, I’m still here. I love the people, the culture, the tradition, the history, the weather and of course the wonderful Sierra Nevada mountains. I’m still living the dream.
We parked at the Hoya de la Mora above the ski town of Pradollano and made the 45 minute traverse on a good road and track towards the middle ski station area called, Borreguiles. Just before arriving we found some old ski pistes still intact, so decided to follow these uphill. We put the adhesive skins on our skis and donned our ski boots. Some walkers gave us some strange looks as they passed us en route to Borreguiles from the beach.
Sadly my first dog, Rocky, died on Friday 22nd May 2009 after losing a battle with the horrible disease, Leishmaniasis. He was a great dog and faithful companion. I remember coming out to Spain in 2001. My pickup truck was filled with all my worldly possessions, so Rocky had to sit in the passenger seat all the way (illegal now of course). We had some great fun coming down through France and Spain at the motorway toll booths.
39 years on and the song “Working Class Hero” still has meaning, possibly even more so these days. Written by legend John Lennon and made a hit by Marianne Faithfull in 1979 it is a take on the class split of the 1940s and 1950s, and of the 1960s in which John Lennon was famous. The song appears to tell the story of someone growing up in the working class. Acccording to Lennon in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in December 1970, it is about working class individuals being processed into the middle classes, into the machine.
Had great day yesterday ski mountaineering with client, Jackie Belbeck in the Sierra Nevada. We parked behind Trevenque in the Cumbres Verdes just SE of Granada at the Casa Forestal de Cortijuela Botanical gardens (1700m). A walk up though the forest to the Collado de Matas Verdes and onto the Collado del Pino at 2045m where we found continuous snows. We donned boots, skins and skis and headed up the Barranco due south.