As a portent, the death of Blanca Fernández Ochoa at the end of last Summer wasn’t the best. No better were the fires that burned in Guadarrama over the Summer.
In November we had surprisingly good snowfall – see the video we made on Nov 24th – with half a meter of consolidated snow on the ground..but nobody believed it would last. It didn’t. A misery of rain and pissing mist slowly wiped out the snowpack in the first weeks of December. One of the last days that it was possible to ski, the 7th of December, i was coming home on a packed mountain train in the late afternoon. We’d already had some delays and mishaps – the train broke down in the tunnel under Puerto de Navacerrada – and were running well over an hour behind schedule..when we hit two women walking on the track just below the old Siete Picos station. As luck would have it, they were in the worst possible place when the train came upon them – how did they not hear it coming? – ..they were on a small bridge over Río Pradillo, making escape much more difficult than in any other spot. According to the driver, the train only ‘brushed’ them aside..unfortunately being brushed aside in this particular spot amounted to a fall of five or six meters to the rocks in the stream bed below the bridge. One of the women was badly injured, the other died.
In the first days of the New Year, we did a little hard-snow climbing on Peñalara’s East face – see the video we made on January 03 – finding 45-50º ramps of bullet-proof snow. Not a place to fall. My son went back to school after Reyes (the 6th of Jan) to the terrible news that one of his schoolmates, a kid he played with occasionally, had died of a brain tumour over the holidays.
Barely a week later, on Sunday the 12th of January, a man fell to his death on the East face of Peñalara..not far from where we had been climbing in the New Year.
After weeks of gloom, the snow returned in the final third of January..to coincide with the San Sebastian holiday in Cercedilla (20th of Jan). Surprisingly, once again, almost a meter of snow fell in four or five days..so the season was saved? The consolidation of the Winter of San Sebastian..? A few ‘powder’ days? A few days of good skiing, yes. But there was no consolidation..and the season was not saved. Not this time. More light rain and the vicious pissing mist, in the last five days of January, once more attacked the seemingly generous and semi-consolidated snowpack. By the first of February it was all gone, utterly wiped out once more.
We have not known such desolation..in my time in Sierra de Guadarrama.