A first group of 19 riders -event participants and staff- gathered in Arties at noon to start the approach to Ventosa i Calvell mountain refuge hut. The northern front that hit the Pyrenees the previous days left a mind-blowing landscape in Naut Aran –upper Aran valley- the approach through Valarties is magic. We arrive in La Restanca refuge in a couple of hours and we eat a little bite before resuming our tour. The sky is covered with high and mid-level clouds during all the approach.
Temperatures are chilly and the existing track allows us to progress swiftly; soon we arrive to Ouelhacrestada pass, the line that divides the Mediterranean and Atlantic Pyrenean watersheds, and the door to Parc Natural d’Aigüestortes. We make it to the mountain refuge hut by the last light of the day, just on time for a few beers before eating dinner. Meanwhile, a second group of 5 riders spent the first night at La Restanca, to resume the approach on Saturday morning and join the rest of the gang. It’s a cold night; the stars are shining brightly, shaping Comalespada peak’s challenging silhouette.
It’s 6:30am, our headlights shine in the darkness as we slowly open track on the north face of Comalespada. Dusk lights bathe the summits while we witness the breath-taking show from a lower shady spot. Two ours later, we find ourselves below the north corridor; we’re on schedule and the job is done, so we keep opening track on the corridor to treat ourselves with a first descent. 700m below, the refuge wakes up. After a first contact on the radio, we confirm what we already knew: the snow layer is stable and the conditions are at its best. It’s bound to be an awesome day!
We suggest two different options for the contest; while a first group uses the first track, Javi Barro opens a second track on the west face. Short before 11am, all participants are at their starting point. 3,2,1…dropping! The north face of Comalespada offers an endless playground, an area where you can take your splitboarding to the next level: fun is guaranteed!
The riders are on fire! All participants display sick lines and a great attitude, but the day has barely started, so once the last rider arrives at the bottom, we all start to skin up again, searching for new lines. 1, 2, 3, even 4 runs until 6:30pm. Before dinner, we chill and visualize every line in contest over some beers. The riders themselves choose the winning line.
Considering the excellent powder conditions and due to popular demand, the organization decided to change the event program and cancel the Chinese Downhill. It’s springtime and the sun has seriously affected the snow on the south faces, but fresh powder is awaiting us on the shady north faces, so at 8 am we left the hut and hit towards Colieto valley in search for our powder fix.
Ventosa i Calvell mountain refuge offers an unreal playground within a stone’s throw. It didn’t take us long to reach the ridge, where the freeriding feast took off: sick powder and bluebird skies. Short after noon, we headed back to the hut and enjoyed some fresh beers before the prize giving. It’s 2 pm and we start to go back to Artíes, where some of us still have time for more beers and pintxos (Basque style tapas). We recap the great times we’ve shared during this 2nd edition of Split to Win, already engraved in the memories of all of us who where lucky enough to experience it.