Black and yellow fauna!

Common Salamander

Common Salamander, it’s not everyday you see one..but not that unusual either.

What's this?

What’s this?

A wasp? But not the usual ones..

A wasp? But not one of the usual ones..

Potter wasp..had to look it up!

Potter wasp..had to look it up!

Curious..

Curious..

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Cool Summer so far..

Rock climbing season is underway!

Rock climbing season is underway! (Foto: Carmen)

What a strange year it’s been so far! Summery conditions to start the year, days and days of sun in January followed by a week of Winter at the month’s end, with rain and snowfall. Then two almost completely dry, sun-filled months in February-March, Springy-Summer, succeeded by a kind of return to Winter in April-May with many days of rain and snowfall. Things heated up in second half of May, but then we had a relatively very cool month of June until the heatwave that threatens these last days of the month. Weird weather indeed (once again!)..

Hiking towards Peñalara

Hiking towards Peñalara

So this cool June has been perfect for outdoor activities, and we’ve been getting out there, rock-climbing, mountain biking, hiking, shooting arrows in the forest, and more.

Archer about to shoot!

Archer about to shoot!

Riding the mountain train to Puerto de Navacerrada allows for cool downhill biking in the evenings on the days that the temps do go up a bit..

Downhill biking..in the shade!

Downhill biking..in the shade!

The tops of the mountains still retain the last vestiges of Winter (even if a very scarce one) though the residual snowfields gradually dwindle..doesn’t look like they will make it to July this year.

Hiking past the last small snowfields

Hiking past the last small snowfields

 

 

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Luck and Cap de Llauset – they seem to go together!

Back at Cap de Llauset in the month of May once more..and once more with a weather forecast that left a lot to be desired. And once more, luck was on our side.. ‘audaces fortuna iuvat’ maybe? The proverb dating from classical times says that fortune favours the audacious..but i wouldn’t push it too far with the weather in the mountains.

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Incredible event..!

An incredible event at the top of Hermana Mayor, a mountain of 2270m in the Sierra de Guadarrama, after two ‘Winter’ months, February and March, without a single snowflake – hardly even a drop of rain – on the last day of March 2019..it snowed! Snow fell!!

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The Winter that never was

The Winter that never was..apart from a single week at the end of January-beginning of February. The one-week Winter. It’s true that we had a few days of serious snowfall at end October, followed by quite a lot of rain in November. The first half of December offered some days of wintry sensations..but by the time the calendar Winter rolled in, the anticyclone was firmly installed over southern Europe and the sun was beating down. January continued in the same vein – sun, sun, sun – until about the 20th when the weather finally changed and a couple of Atlantic storms blew in bringing some days of rain, snow and high winds. But it was all over by the first days of February, the anticyclone was back in place and there it stayed thru the rest of ‘Winter’ into Spring..an incredible eight weeks with hardly a drop of rain or a flake of snow, rare clouds the odd day, the skies dominated day after day after day by the sun, very mild temps..weird weather indeed.

Things were looking good in early February

Things were looking good in early February, cirque and laguna of Peñalara.

A visit to 'Bola del Mundo' at the end of February..the snow was holding out despite the sun.

A visit to ‘Bola del Mundo’ at the end of February..the snow was holding out despite the sun.

Early March, it's getting dryer, but still plentiful snow in some places..

Early March, it’s getting dryer, but still plentiful snow in some places..

..some areas in the distance betray bareness.

..some areas in the distance betray bareness.

In general snow on South faces is disappearing fast..

In general snow on South faces is disappearing fast..

..forcing us to turn to North faces, North of Citores.

..forcing us to turn to North faces, North of Citores.

North of Citores, still looking good, mid-March..

North of Citores, still looking good, mid-March..

..if you don't look around too much.

..if you don’t look around too much.

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Mr. Atomic Red Boots goes to Peñalara

A sunlit day in the forest high on the mountainside, a young boy wearing big red boots walks among the trees..small birds chirp, the breeze stirs the pine-needles, there is no wolf to be seen..but who knows?..above the treeline, in the realm of the alpine..who or what may appear before our eyes, flitting across the snow-blanketed landscape, sliding over the snowpack and back, lower down, to the cover of pines..?

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Soft snow ski

Soft!

Soft!

So..it snowed! Just at the end of January and in the first days of February we got some of the white stuff..not exactly a huge cold dump, but days of snow interspersed with days of rain. And then days of fierce winds blowing the top snow around. The final result was not beautiful in some places, leaving an irregular checkerboard of exposed patches of old frozen snow and new windpack slabs with a sastrugi-type finish in high open terrain, but lower down in certain bowls and valleys the wind deposited quantities of snow in soft poudreuse-style drifts..making for excellent skiing.

Rocks and all things hard..made soft.

Rocks and all things hard..made soft.

So while others toiled on the hardpack in the higher alpine areas, those of us who knew made for the treed bowls, where the goods had been stored by Brother Mistral..the softer side of life. There was at times up to half a meter of new snow on top of a good base..to be honest it wasn’t the lightest driest snow you could imagine, at best it was poudre lourde but, hey, am i complaining about heavy pow?!!

Arcing thru somewhat steeper terrain at the top of the bowl..

Arcing thru somewhat steeper terrain at the top of the bowl..

The trees and their low-hanging branches will sometimes complicate matters a tad in this kind of skiing, but this really just adds to the interest of such terrain..ain’t no piste, bro! Wearing a helmet is probably not a bad idea.

..mellowing out halfway down..

..mellowing out and opening up into meadows halfway down..

I like to call this area the ‘Bullpen Bowl’..owing to a feature to be found where the bowl bottoms out. It does get a bit flat at the end but skis still run well in schuss..and there are rocks and bumps everywhere to pop off at speed.

..flattening out at the end. The Bullpen is hidden in the background.

..flattening out at the end. The ‘Bullpen’ is hidden in the background.

Not everybody’s cup of tea surely but popping off rocks into soft snow is a whole lotta fun. It’s nothing like cliff-hucking, pro ski jumping or downhill racing 50-meter airy blasts..it’s just fun.

Flat..but not boring!

Flat..but not boring!

And the enormous importance of the place, the Bullpen, the bowl with its trees and meadows, the larger surroundings – el entorno – and, of course, that thick blanket of soft, soft snow..days to remember!

The Bullpen Bowl, in all its glory.

The Bullpen Bowl, foreground, in all its glory.

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