The Winter of 2016-17 is shaping up to be one of the poorer, and stranger, ones of recent times. Generally low snowfall and mild temps from December thru March have made it poor, and the directions of the prevailing winds and storms have made it strange. February, while hardly a great month, was pretty ok (for skiing) thanks mainly to the one more or less serious storm of the Winter, from the 11th to the 14th. The strange thing about it was that, like practically all of the precipitation in the form of snow that we have had this year, the prevailing winds were from the South and East, the stormfronts coming in from the South Atlantic or even the Mediterranean, a phenomenon known locally as ‘gota fría’. Serious snowfall in the Sierra de Guadarrama is usually associated with storm systems coming in from the West or NW, from the mid-Atlantic..but such fronts have been few and far between this Winter. The fronts coming from the SE have accumulated snow on western and northern aspects that usually get little cover.
This, among other reasons, is why i’ve made multiple visits to el Alto de las Guarramillas, also popularly known as la Bola del Mundo – literally ‘the Ball of the World’ – 2267m. There was some great skiing on the slopes of this singular mountain that face towards Puerto de Navacerrada, and more particularly the WSW slope that descends towards Garganta del Infierno..though more than going down to hell it felt like a descent into Heaven.
It has to be said that the eastern side of el Alto de las Guarramillas wasn’t in half bad shape either, though since this area normally gets a reasonable amount of snow it wasn’t so special to ski there.
Bola del Mundo also has a steep North face, often good to ski, but no..this year the best was the West, or SW or NW. And while i don’t really love skiing down to ‘el Puerto’ – with its mountains of trash, screeching snow-tourists and choking traffic – this year was about as good as it gets.
On several of these outings to La Bola i was accompanied by my seven-year-old, skinning the vertical half kilometer from the train station to the top. Some days in the sun, others with a driving wind and threatening clouds.
We were rarely alone on the mountain’s western reaches, due to its closeness to Puerto de Navacerrada and easy access facilitated by ski-lift. The obsolete radio-tv transmission installations – reminiscent of Tintin’s moon rocket – at the summit are a popular objective for day-trippers all year round.
While these edifications are considered to be ‘iconic’ by some and the origin of the quirky Bola del Mundo name, they are in reality – beyond being totally obsolete – little more than a large pile of industrial junk..and, seeing as how they are already in a state of semi-abandonment, they should probably be blasted off to the moon sometime soon!