I recently took a trip to the Catalonian Pyrenees in Spain on behalf of our friends Travel With a Mate – along with four other bloggers, I was sent out to test what the region has to offer for skiers and snowboarders. Yes, you can ski in Spain, it seems!
I was the beginner of the group so I was looking at what the area was like for newbie skiers – you can check out what I though in the first of my trip reports (and keep an eye out for other articles coming in the near future).
Not that you lovely LWT readers are going to miss out on the action, of course! I’ve got plenty to tell you all about as well.
One of my favourite parts of the trip was a sunset trek on snow shoes round the slopes and forest of Port Ainé resort.
What on earth are snow shoes?
Basically, show shoes are plastic overshoes that you attached over your boots. They might look pretty simple but they’re actually deceptively clever bits of kit.
They have metal studs on the bottom for grip and they also have a built-in mini crampon at the front. The front of your foot is clipped into the shoe, but the ankle is loose – this allows the crampon to dig in as you walk (although you can clip your foot in if you want to run, or walk down a very steep slope).
They also have a block at the back that you can flip over if you want to walk up a steep area. This pushes the back of your foot up – like wearing high heels! – so when you are on the slope, you are still walking perpendicularly to it. It doesn’t sound a lot but it makes a big difference!
Hitting the Port Ainé slopes
Our route took us up the pistes of Port Ainé to the high level restaurant before winding our way back down the area underneath the ski lift.
We started off just as the light was starting to fade so, with lots of stops for photos, we trekked off to the top of our route to catch the best of the setting sun.
Our guide, Alvaro, knew all there was to know about the landscape, environment and wildlife of the area. He’s a mountain guide and ski instructor and has been living and working in the area for years.
He gave us a run down of what animals we might see on the way back down and how to identify them from their tracks and droppings. He also gave us a quick astronomy lesson and taught us how to tell what direction we were facing using the constellations.
All too soon, it was time to head back to the hotel. By then, dusk had properly taken hold. The lights of the hotel and far-off villages twinkled – my photos really don’t do it justice!
It was a really lovely walk – but absolutely knackering. It probably didn’t help to do it after a couple of days trying my first skiing lessons. Despite that, though, it was a really great experience and I’d be keen to try it out again sometime!
I was a guest of Catalunya Tourism on this trip, but all opinions are my own.