Everyday, whilst staying in the town of Benasque; I looked up to the high hills and mountains that surround the town. I often thought of what I could see from up there. After waking up from a night of over indulgence; the sun filled my room, reminding me that mother nature has no need for sleep or alcohol!
A fresh start
Realising I was rapidly running out of daylight in late October; I made a strong coffee and scoffed cereal bars as I made two meaty sandwiches to take with me on the mountain and packed my small rucksack with other necessary items.
To make the summits and ridges possible in just a few hours; I jumped in my car and drove up past the ski town of Cerler. I past military barracks and a series of hairpin bends. When the road curved to the right by a small ridge; I turned off to the right onto a gravel track called the Pista de Labert. After just fifty metres; I parked my car in a layby and set off. I estimated I had five hours of daylight, which can soon disappear into the setting sun.
The only way is up!
Leaving the car, I bid good afternoon to a man picking wild mushrooms and walked up the smooth track. The map showed that a footpath began when the track reached a pine forest; yet when I arrived to this point, no footpath was visible. Looking up at the scree and long grass; I decided to start blazing a trail of my own! The gradient was steep yet I could climb easily over the smooth rocks and loamy grass. Within a short time I had reached the lower slopes of the ski station; where the gradients eased as I made my way up the now grassy pistes.
A fork in the road
In a short while, I reached a mountain restaurant and had to choose which piste to climb to the top. I could have gone straight up a steep red piste or a longer blue piste that snakes up a side valley. Remembering I had packed a head torch and plenty of warm clothes; I headed off up the blue run.
Only stopping to take sips of water and to look back at the valley below me; I was soon gaining altitude. Reaching another ridgeline and the top pf another ski lift; I could look across to Aneto, the highest mountain of the Pyrenees. To now reach my own personal peak called Punta Cogulla; I now had to climb up a steeper piste for another half a mile. The air was cooling as I climbed; yet the power of the sun and my own body heat kept me in just a T-shirt at over 2,000 metres in altitude!
On top of my world
In no time at all, I had reach the summit ridge of the Punta Cogulla. Blighted by numerous telecommunication masts and aerials; I tried to blur them from my vision by focusing on the distant peaks. Passing by as quickly as I could to avoid possible risks from radiation; I reached the far end of the summit ridge and found a grassy nook in the rock that offered me protection from these invisible waves.
The rocks protected me from a fresh southerly wind and the setting sun kept me warm. Putting my thick jacket down on the spiky grass; I sat down and made a short video for my memories. Then enjoyed my sandwiches crammed full of cooked Spanish meats of bultifarra, chorizo and jamon serrano, topped with cheese, tomatoes and salad. Which I washed down with a can of Estrella Damm malty beer from Barcelona. Then laying back I enjoyed the views of the Posets mountain range. I would happily stayed there all afternoon; yet the sun was less than an hour from the horizon. So putting on more clothes for a cooler descent I set off a more relaxed man.
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The long way down
Looking to the west, towards Posets; a ridge descends from the summit of Punta Cogulla for almost a mile before descending rapidly to the Benasque valley. Walking down this gentle ridge to the limit of the ski area; I was making the most of the afternoon sun. Then after one final glimpse of the view to the south; I turned and started heading down the green pistes. In good spirits and a clear mind; I gently made my way down through the trees and back to the car. I was in shadow now, yet the light shined on in my memory. Taking time to change from walking boots to a pair of old shoes; I looked out over the town of Cerler and was relaxed once again. So do not just focus on the bigger peaks of a mountain range. Do not become stressed when bad weather or short days are against you. Find a reasonable climb with views and just appreciate being in nature. You will soon relax.
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