As is ever more frequent in Guadarrama, the third week of January brings with it Winter and the typical phenomena thereof, cold temperatures and snow. Yes, snow. Not exactly in massive quantities, at least for the moment, but enough to ski. And just when despair was threatening to overcome us! In recent years December and early January seem to bring nothing but enormous frustration to those of us who are into sliding down mountains on boards. The weather is dominated by either weeks of sun or weeks of rain..until the third week of January when something changes. And so it is once more this year.
Last Friday, the 17th of January, after weeks of rain and mist..the snow finally returned to Guadarrama. On Saturday there was 20-25cm of new snow in Cotos, hardly what you would call a huge snowfall but better than what there had been.. nothing. Of course there were skiers everywhere desperate to do some sliding. I did a little bit of sliding myself on the pista forestal with my four-year-old. On Sunday there were 30-35cm in Cotos and half a meter above 2050m, getting better! Skiers and boarders all over the place talking of powder.
Now it’s not that good powder is unknown in Guadarrama..witness this last year, the North of Siete Picos, el bosque de Cotos, etc. But what was available last Sunday was not powder..fairly light fresh snow, medium to high density, somewhat compacted by the wind, yes..powder, no. Good to ski, yes, but not like powder. I suppose you could say it’s the typical quality of skiable fresh snow in Guadarrama. I’ve heard it called poudre lourde in French – quite different from la poudreuse, wonderful heavenly powder – .. “heavy powder” i sometimes call it locally. Anyway i had a good day of ski on Sunday, didn’t hit any rocks, my weak knee held up alright. It continued to snow all day, and temps in Cotos stayed around 0º C or under.
So this morning, Monday, I was expecting the good stuff, la poudreuse. Cotos had a really wintry look about it, cold, well under zero, stormy..what a pow day usually looks like in Guada.
I spent a couple of hours with my son – San Sebastian is a holiday in Cercedilla – and my wife on la pista with perfect creamy dreamy conditions. This forestry track is “groomed” (as our N.Am cousins say) by a machine, so it would have been good anyway..
..and good it was indeed. But my mouth was watering for the real thing, that poudreuse lying luscious among the trees, waiting for me, calling softly to me. At midday i finally got away, a little higher up, to check out the real thing..barely visible due to the heavy fog. But, oh! what a disappointment..far from the low-density cold smoke i was hoping for, i found sluggish, lightly crusted, near crud conditions..and in el bosque the fresh almost half meter with no base didn’t convince me either. So, back down la pista..but i’m not complaining, that was pretty good too – and we have snow!