Friday, 6 July 2007

Days 12-20 (writing from Benasque)

Writing from a dodgy Internet booth down a side street where all the locals seem to come and watch bootleg dvds...My tent is set up 3k up the road at a formal campsite with showers and everything though!

Since I last wrote my gear has not performed to well. The handles fell off my walking poles, and then the titanium tips fell off making them just sticks so when I realised I had left them in a cafe 5 minutes before I felt no desire to return and get them. My Miendl boots fell apart after the monster climb up Ezcaurri which tore the stitching out. The gaps got alarming bigger each day until I reached Ordesa national park when I used up my spare day to go shopping. New boots are a risk but 4 days later and no complaints from my super orange Tecnica boots. The rest of the kit still weighs a ton though.

I´ve done two rather scary climbs: Cuello Tebarray at 2782m was a slog up a valley with the final 200m at about 45degrees, and needed a rather dangerous traverse, followed by contour round a half frozen glacial lake and a descent down 300m of snow. At this time I had no pole and was using a novelty walking stick which was funny. Two french guys following took a photo from lower in the valley, and promise to email it me. The other one was the escape from the Ordesa valley (an incredibly beautiful area). It required a long climb over several large rivers from melt water, to the valley edge with a 1000m fall to the right. The final ascent was up a steep gully below a melting ice block above and vertical rock strata for extra slippyness. Someone has fitted a rusty chain to help surmount the final boulder which was not easy to use with a heavy pack. there then followed a descent of 1460m down a 45degree slope with chains and waterfalls for company. The good news was that I found a brand new thermarest sleep mat during the walk :-)

Regarding wildlife, there are marmots everywhere and they shriek like exited school girls when you surprise them. Bearded Eagles are supposed to be rare but ´Tommy the Swede´pointed a few out to me. Little dear called Chamois are fun to watch as they can jump and run incredibly fast and far. Several people have told me that the changing seasons have made the area much more green, and there are wild flowers and herbs everywhere, and rich dark forests which I was not really expecting.

I did try to update this blog from a Petrol station on the border with France. It sold wine for about 1.5l for €1.5 (good stuff) from barrels, and you just filled up your own container however the PC was in the ´free sample´ room. It took me about 1.5hours to figure out that the ancient PC would not do Google :-)

Got loads of photo´s which I guess will have to be added retrospectively I´m afraid. I´ve made a few more friends along the way, and our paths keep crossing, but so far I am the only west to east thru trekker I´ve met.


Rodrigo said...
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Rodrigo said...
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AndyBee said...

"there are marmots everywhere and they shriek like exited school girls when you surprise them"

Okay - 2 things:

1 - You've been away from the fairer gender for too long

2 - Why are you trying to surprise a marmot?

Great post though. Keep up the good work an remember, a marmot is for life, not just the weekend. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Barrie,

Hope everything is going well, we are tracking your exploites with envy, better than the office any day.

Andorra will be lovely, friends say the weather is slowly improving. It is raining here!!!

Keep smiling. I did the IM by the way!