Monday, January 30, 2012

There Is No Such Thing As Bad Weather

John Ruskin once said “Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

The first time I visited the summit of the Pic de la Coum D'Or in winter it was grey and overcast. The peaks in Andorra were covered in cloud and the route I had taken partly obscured. I was not even able to make out the Lanoux resevoir at the foot of the summit - the largest expanse of water in the French Pyrenees. The time on the summit however was almost windless and remarkably peaceful.

Summit view from Pic de la Coum d'Or looking towards Andorra
 On a recent revisit this winter, I had  blue sky and sunshine and the views  were clear.

My snowshoe tracks towards the Pic de la Coum d'Or
The partially frozen Lanoux resevoir and the dam were visible this time and in the distance Pic Carlit - the highest peak in the Catalan Pyrenees Regional Nature Park. This is a favourite mountain area of mine and the area where I prefer to lead  Pyrenees Mountain Adventure walks and treks.

Partially frozen Lanoux Resevoir and in the distance Pic Carlit
However the  wind was much stronger and the summit less of a pleasant experience, the windchill  hastening my descent.

The cold made me think of the herd of 8 or so Isard I had seen on my ascent. I had chosen to approach the peak not by the normal valley route, which I had done before, but via the ridge above the valley. This required more effort but I was able to escape from the normal approach and well trodden path and into a wilder, less visited area and that is where the wildlife can be found. 

The Isard were seen from this spot but out of shot to the right and below me.
It is always exhilarating to see the larger Pyrenean wildlife up close(r) but in winter especially, there is the always the concern that in disturbing the animals I am putting them at risk. Food is much scarcer in the winter and the animals rely on fat reserves built up over the summer to survive. Disturbing them and making them flee, while impressive to watch in terms of their speed, agility, strength and stamina, expends valuable energy which they do not have a great surplus of and therefore makes them more vulnerable to the harshness of the winter. 

No comments:

Post a Comment