Ski Mountaineering in the Picos de Europa
A tale of mountain adventure in the Northern End of Spain
Trip Date: March 15-23, 2009
After working nearly 6 weeks straight with only 2 days off in Denmark, I was ready for a break. I wanted to ski, but I wanted to climb mountains, and I also wanted to see some sunshine, since winters in Denmark can be very gloomy. I searched and searched the internet for different possibilities, ski touring in Austria, Switzerland both sounded good but were expensive and the weather can be hit or miss. Finally I came across this website.
Mike and Lisa Stuart are English but have been in Spain for 18 years. Mike leads small groups on ski touring, snow shoeing, mountain biking and hill walking adventures in the Picos Mountains. The Picos are a mountain range 15km from the Northern Coast of Spain. Some of the tallest mountains are 2700m. They are snow capped in the winter and make for some great ski touring.
Now many of you are probably asking, well what is Ski Mountaineering? Ski Mountaineering involves skiing up mountains and then skiing back down. You use special bindings that allow the skis to transform from a nordic ski to alpine ski. You also use special boots that can be unlocked to make it easier for the boots to pivot when you are climbing. Lastly, when climbing you have to stick skins onto your skis to allow them to grip the snow, when going down hill the skis come off and you zip on down. Often this technique can be used for multi day tours going from hut to hut or just day trips where you climb up and then ski back down at the end of the day.
The group consisted of myself and two English women. Mike would take us out everyday to a new mountain where we would spend a few hours skinning up, and then skiing back down. One night we even stayed in a mountain hut, which was really cool. In the evening we would return to Casa Gustavo, Mike and Lisa’s place for a lovely 3 course dinner. Mike and Lisa made us really feel like we were part of their family. One night we even celebrated their son’s birthday, complete with cake, presents and the whole bit. It was really cool.
For 5 days we climbed different mountains everyday, the tallest being over 2500m, and skied back down each afternoon.
Since I was flying out early Sunday morning from Santander, I took the bus from Mike and Lisa’s to Santander and spent Saturday afternoon and evening there enjoying the beautiful weather and beach.
This was one of my favourite vacations combining mountaineering and skiing, two sports I love and cannot get enough of.
More photos here.
Video: Note I did not get time to build the ultimate video just yet but it is coming.
Next Episode: Eastern Europe, Germany, Switzerland, France, and Spain, and Morrocco it’s been 10 years since my first European Tour and it’s time to celebrate, what better way than with another European tour!