03 Aug Day Two in Baqueira Beret – Heli-Touring & A Ski-Doo to Dinner!
Day two was heli-touring, which is exactly what it implies. We caught a helicopter up in the morning to a rather ominous looking peak, this time with the company of the owner of KABI, who just happens to be the most famous female high altitude climber in the world and the first woman to climb all 14 peaks above 8000m on this planet! Pretty impressive!
Once we’d landed we embarked on a long open face ski down on rather firm packed snow to a hut in the absolute middle of nowhere – the sound of silence really is a beautiful one! Then on with skins on the base of our skis and we began a two hour hike to a different summit – one of the highest in the area. This time we enjoyed a leisurely pace, great conversation, snacks and water breaks until we reached the top, hovering rather close to a pretty big cornice – we didn’t hang around too long!
The ski down was steep at the start and then quite simply fantastic from there on in. Beautiful soft firn snow with varying terrain from steep, to narrow valleys, through trees, traverses, a few drops, climbing over some avalanche debris and more and more and more soft firn turns. Quite simply exhilarating and being able to see the scope of what you can actually ski from different angles and vantage points made it all the more worthwhile. We were picked up at the bottom of the valley by our hosts and whisked off to a small, traditional hamlet of a Spanish back country village for a late lunch – an incredible day already and it was only 2pm! The hamlet we arrived in for lunch is exactly the kind of thing you need to know about and why you need a guide to find the hidden gems that make for an unforgettable experience. The place was understated, non pretentious and a real treat of a surprise. We started by enjoying a cold San Miguel and a few peanuts on terrace soaking up the sun, then we were invited inside to an unbelievable sight – traditional old farmhouse style, with stonework and timber, and the tables laid for a royal banquet! The food was delicious and beautifully presented – all local village produce, we feasted on legs of ham (jambon), cheese, fois gras, wild boar meatballs, local goats cheese crepes and farm reared chicken strips.
This same evening (still full) we were taken my snowmobile to an ancient (restored) Refuge up the mountain and out of the resort. After a 25 minute journey on the ski-doos along tracks, slopes and through the forest you end up at this stunning (if rather scary looking) church type Refuge. Another feast ensued – a bottle of delicious house Rioja, more tapas and then the special; a huge soft and tender steak and duck breasts, lightly seasoned, cooked on the open fire grill and sprinkled with salt. So simple and incredible tasting!