Saturday, 23 March 2013

Snow Shoeing in Paradise

I had a few spare hours yesterday after doing some cross country ski classes so I went snowshoeing up on the border with France.

The snow is still metres deep the weather gorgeous and there was no one around except myself. The only sounds were the wind in the pines and the calls of Alpine choughs. Pure bliss!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Spring in the Pyrenees Foothills

While the snow is metres deep in the high Pyrenees in the foothills the almonds are in blossom and the sun gives a blissful feeling of warmth and well being. The Mallos de Riglos pinnacles in the background are the nesting site of hundreds of Griffon Vultures whose chicks will soon be hatching. Roll on the spring!

Mallos de Riglos & Almonds

Snowshoeing in the Roncal Valley

Beautiful powder snow, a fresh, sunny day. Perfect for snowshoes! These folks don't ski so it's the only way to explore this beautiful area without sinking up to our waists in the snow!

The Roncal Valley.  Pic d´Anie in the background

Snowshoe trip.  Perfect day!

Cross Country & Back Country Skiing and Snow Shoeing Week Feb 2013

We´ve had a spectacular snowy winter - perfect conditions for a week of cross country & back country skiing and snow shoeing in the Western Valleys.
     Back Country Skiing, Ansó Valley
Tony, Sarah, Richard, Jayne, Jo and Alison - arrived on the Sunday evening and checked into the Hotel de La Val in Hecho.  We had a briefing/chat about the week over a couple of beers (brewed here in the valley) and on Monday morning headed off to the Linza ski circuit in the Ansó Valley.  Here the more experienced skiers explored the pistes through the Beech forest while  I introduced the beginners to cross country skiing.  We had a good lunch with hot soup by the fire in the Linza mountain hut and carried on skiing.  Next day we went to the Somport ski circuit just over the border in France and had some excellent skiing around the forest and mountain trails.  One or two of the group preferred to snowshoe so they had a great (and more stable!) time exploring different routes.
     Snow Shoeing on the border
After a couple of days on prepared circuits we headed off piste up the Hecho valley, some of us on back country skis and other on snow shoes.  We had a spectacular day with bright sun, great snow and the whole valley to ourselves!  A real highlight was seeing the local pair of Lammergeiers circling just above us as we were having our lunch - hot soup, and chorizo sausage cooked up on my little stove.
    Cooking chorizo for lunch, Hecho Valley.  Richard has seen a Lammergeier! 
The snow was perfect for back country and we all had a great time gliding along the valley making our own track.  Some nice gentle slopes were perfect for fun descents and even attempting telemark turns!
   Chocolate stop, Oza, hecho valley
The following couple of days were similar.  One day we skiied up to Taxeras set below the stark Alanos ridge and had a wonderful, though quite challenging descent through thick snow.  We had a very welcome beer in the village of Ansó on the way back to the hotel.
    Linza, Ansó Valley
The last day was spent at Linza back country skiing and snow shoeing.  We had a good lunch in the hut and had a good afternoon with most of us snow shoeing on a forest trail up to a pass and the Gamueta forest where we hoped to see the elusive White Backed Woodpecker (it didn´t show!)  We did, however see a big band of Cranes migrating North over the mountains on their way to Northern Europe from their Southern wintering grounds.
     Richard, Richard, Jayne, Alison, Tony, Sarah and Jo
That night Pepito at the Hotel de La Val prepared a paella for the group as a nice farewell gesture and then, next morning they headed off to Reus airport and back to the UK.  The group couldn´t have been easier or nicer - thanks to all of you for making my job such a pleasure!  It was also great that everyone enjoyed the snow in their own way - either on skis or on snow shoes.  A big thankyou to all for coming and especially to Tony for getting you all organised to come!  See you all again soon I hope!
If you´d like to organise your own winter trip please get in touch at: for details of tailor made trips all year see: