Great Yellow Gentians and great white snowfields

Another yellow phenomenon of the Guadarrama Summer is the Great Yellow Gentian (Gentiana lutea), known locally as genciana amarilla.

Great Yellow Gentians near Collado de Cítores

Great Yellow Gentians near Collado de Cítores

Growing to 70-80cm high and found only above 2000m it is undoubtedly the dominant spectacle of local high mountain flora in July..appearing singly here and there among the rocks or more rarely in fields of hundreds such as the one near Collado de Cítores at approximately 2150m.


This Summer however there is another, more unusual, phenomenon to be seen in the heights of Guadarrama. Just where the Gentians are now flourishing, below this high col, there was a considerable band of snow perfectly observable from the Navacerrada-Cotos railway track until about two weeks ago. It has now disappeared but on Peñalara’s Eastern front, where enormous accumulations of snow build up during Winter-Spring, there are still several small snowfields present..

..however what really surprised me was the not so small snowfield in the Dos Hermanas area. It’s normal to find some kind of nevero here in June and even in early July there may be remnants..

High snowfield, Entre Hermanas

Going for a walk in the snow, July 23..the high snowfield of Entre Hermanas, 2200m

..but what we have this year at the end of July is no mere “remnant”’s a snowfield with an extension of at least 2500-3000 square meters and probably a couple of meters deep at its maximum depth.

Another view of the nevero of Dos Hermanas

Another view of the nevero of Dos Hermanas

The surface texture of the snow, a centimeter or two of barely softened refrozen crystals even at midday, and the firm compactness of what lay below – this is what is known as névé or firn, transition states of snow becoming ice – added to the extension of it, all together it stirred something within me, triggered a subtle frisson, generated a sensation that i would normally expect to encounter far from Guadarrama at this time of year..when entering glacier terrain in the Pyrenees or even the Alps, an experience that i had not imagined this particular Summer would have in store for me..a sweet white surprise!


About coldspringdays

Éireannach is ea mé, i mo chonaí insan Spáinn. Rugadh mé i lár na tuaithe, ar feadh blianta bhí mé ag teitheadh uaithi, i bhfad as an tuath, ach sa deireadh d'fhill mé, ar ais go dtí an tuath.. An Irishman am I, settled in Spain. Born was I in the middle of the country, for years I ran from it, far from the country, but in the end I returned, back to the country..
This entry was posted in children in Nature, Climate change, flora, Nature, snow, the seasons and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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