Tuesday 5 February 2013

fresh tracks in the snow

We wake early and easily this morning. After days of low cloud and heavy snow, the day dawns sunny and bright. There has been so much snow the last few days that all the ski stations were closed.We go skiing anyhow.

We drive to Betpouey, park in a lay-by, fix on our skins and set off on a nearby trail. Through the woods above the village, towards the Mont-Agut. It feels like half the valley is out of the hill this morning. Or at least the entire community of Guides, Mountain Leaders and Ski-Touring enthusiasts, carving out deep tracks for us to follow.

I can hardly hide my enthusiasm to be out on the hill. It's my first time skiing since last year, my first time on my new (second-hand) skis, my first time in the powder.
Je monte, tu montes, il monte, nous montons...

After nearly two hours of ascent, we arrive at a plateau and decide to leave the trail. 

From now on in, the ascent is pretty testing.
I'm fourth in line, as ever, the slowcoach bringing up the rear.

Je monte, tu montes, il monte, nous montons...
Progress is painfully slow through over half a metre of fresh snow.

 Je monte, tu montes, il monte, nous montons...

About half an hour from the end, I come close to having a sense of humour failure.

I am exhausted, my body just about ready to give up.

But encouraged by the others, I keep ploughing forward, one painfully slow step at a time.

Je monte, tu montes, il monte, nous montons...

Like all of the best moments out on the hill, I can’t wait for it to be over.

But the  Pyrenees have a peculiar way of offering little fragments of pure beauty, usually  just when things are starting to seem utterly hopeless, worthless and pointless.

I can hear nothing but skis advancing on snow. I can see nothing but blue sky, pine trees and glittering fresh snow.

In my mind, I am nowhere but in the here and now, wrapped up in the utter silence of the mountains.

Je monte, tu montes, il monte, nous montons...

Breaking new trails in deep snow is never easy. But it is absolutely worth it.

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