Season 3, episode 1: Balea, powder and sun
As a Romanian proverb says “Who wakes up early in the morning, can reach far”, but also sleep less. So we met at the crack of dawn in the train station of Carta village. Desire to get to Balea was higher than the frost that made the car engine hardly to be started. After all, we left to Balea Waterfall. The Fagaras mountain peaks were covered by shattered snow, a sign of a powerfull wind in the previous days. As the weather forecast looked good, I trust more in meteorologists than in weather signs of the mountains.
Like the car, due to frost, our ski cabin that climbs up to Balea Lake, was also frozen and we had to wait while it was getting warmer from the sleepy rays of the sun. It took a while, so maybe we should be tried to climb up on our snow skins, but the cabin started to work and we arrived in the settled place around 12pm.
The snow was so great that we put the snow skins since we left the cab. In a hurry,we left our luggages in the chalet and went ahead to the Goad Saddle. Without any traces, the climb was harder and big snow alternated with ice piecies. A little bit exposed and with great fear (at least me) we reached the top of the saddle on our splitboards. From here we followed the ridge and the wind we had felt in the morning, made us put our splitboards on the backpaks and started to walk on boots. Because of the wind, the snowboards are like sail and you should be well-balanced and carefully prepared for the steep valeys that came down on the riht and left side of your way. The cold and wind made our step by step walking being drudgingly, my Buff was like a slate on my face, not helpfull anymore. From the Buteanu Saddle we started to go down the valley. Luca was the first one. The starting wasn’t as I expected, or as I hoped it would be: much more ice being a windy position of the vale. But as I pointed out, just the upside area was icy, because down the slope we sank into the powder. Surfing, indeed! It was a lot of snow that after I had felt down, it took me at least 10 minutes to get up again, I hadn’t any fulcrum, I was all surrounded by the sofness of the powder.
As darkness is getting quickly over the mountains in the winter period, we speeded up our arrival at the challet. I was expected to have an unclouded sky, and this time I wasn’t wrong. Taking some binoculars with us, we had the opportunity to watch the sky in a more detaile manner. But it hadn’t been everything so clear until the moon arise. Good for a descent from the Lady Saddle point down to the Balea Lake. Without any headlamps, but with a lot of powder we could enjoyed our best downhill beeing overseen by the moonlight.
Everything was perfect.
The night passed so quickly after a full day. The darkish morning and flat light didn’t help us so much to distinguish the obstacles on our downslope way. The Lady Valley was a really challenge for all of us, it was like we were in a bidimentional space (2d), everythins was happening in on a sheet of blank paper. Hardly we got to the Lady Lake and until we made our minds up, the sun started to shine and we went down the Laita Valley. The daylight became clear and we went up again, this time with our new friend, Paul. Big snow made our climb more difficult, the splitboards sank in the snow, but the descent was a real delight. After a very quick meal, we have decided ourselves for the next climb: getting closer to the Lady Saddle and choosing a left dale that took us to the Balea Valley. This climbing is really difficult, hardly accessible area, where the traces of the snow were drained and the snow- skins were not our strenght anymore. So we had to put our splitboards on the backpack and to continue our climbing. All this effort was made just for a hidden dale and a fearsome descent, but in the end proved that was an excellent choice. If the starting of the dale was icy, after the mid-slope we were rewarded for all the well job done with a snow like you could see in the movies.
As the evening was very hasty, we packed our luggage and went to Balea Waterfall. All the way down to the waterfall was on the splitboard, the snow was infinite!
Text & photos: Stratila Marius
Snowboard & Splitboard Instructor | splitboardromania.ro