Ana Penche Echazarra
My first splitboarding experience was 3 years ago, during a tour to Airoto mountain refuge, located at Aigüestortes National Park at 2203m, an amazing landscape. The tour’s aim was to do some splitboarding photos for Photofloc, a video and photography company that operates at Baqueira Beret winter resort.
Traversing with the Gerber valley in the background.
We started off going up at the ski resort, with our backpacks loaded with staff for two days. Everybody we came across seemed shocked and wondering where on earth we headed to carrying all that gear. It was pretty funny.
After overcoming another small ridge, we were able to scoop the refuge from far, although in the end, the time to make it there seemed endless: we were tired, anxious to arrive, and we still had to traverse the Airoto lake. Finally, we decided to cross it through the middle, fearing it would crack. We made it, and we finally arrived in the refuge, very cosy indeed. Luckily, we overcame this step, although we did find a few problems while assembling and dismounting the splitboards.
The next morning, we did a couple of good powder lines in the area and we were set to go back. It didn’t look like an easy mission. Everything was going fine, until half way through, my splitboard binding broke up due to a pin failure, so I had no choice than carrying my board on my back.
The first inconvenience occurred on top of the first ridge, where we were greeted by strong wind gusts. There was also a cornice we needed to go down, fearing it would collapse while we slid down over it. All the team had to be secured with rope to avoid any accidents.
We kept on going until we encountered a steep slope with 300m vertical drop. We had snow up to our knees and we had to grab our ice axe and crampons, and also secure ourselves with a rope. We finally made it to the summit at dusk, but we still had to go back to the car, in the dark.I could say, that after this great experience and despite the fear I had to overcome at certain moments, I am hooked to splitboarding. A few others followed this adventure: Maladeta, Tuc dera Canal de Rius, Pas del Nebot tour y and the Aneto summit twice.
I still have several peaks in Val d’Aran on my to do list; I’ve been thinking about them for a while now. I would also like to go touring in the Alps after I gain a little more self-confidence.
I combine all this touring with photography, allowing me to obtain unique images -at a personal and professional level- and the occasion to publish them.
I usually go touring with Demencial Climbers, a splitboard crew from the Valley. Most of them are boys, except for a girl that joins us now and then; but I wish I could tour with more girls and I I’d lie to encourage women to try splitboarding one day; it is a very addictive and rewarding sport.
We celebrated it with a good diner and then we enjoyed a mind-blowing starry night on top of the mountain.