Personal log of a novice backcountry skier in his backyard
David – the catalan surfer/splitboarder living in Bilbao who came with me to San Lorenzo early in January- had the morning off, so we decided to go and explore some areas close to Bilbao for a change. We were planning to go to Lunada -a tiny ski resort in the Burgos/Cantabria border- and explore its backcountry: Pico de la Miel. Some 6kms short of Lunada we had to stop and park on the side of the road, due to lack of proper snow equipment/experience from most drivers. We were hardly moving and it was really getting too dangerous with lots of nonsense. We started chatting to some guys parked next to us while we waited for the slow traffic to move on, and they informed us that the route up to the Castro Valnera (alt. 1706m), the highest summit of the area and which was somewhere on our left, was about 1km uphill from where we were. Seeing that the traffic was not improving, we looked at each other and said “and …why not?”. The weather was awful (windy, low clouds and occasional snowfall) so we took it easy, first along the road and then following the indications and the snow tracks. Soon after we met some skiers on their way down, and they all agreed that while with this low visibility it was too dangerous to attempt the summit, it was fine all the way to La Canal pass (alt. 1448m). Oh… and that the snow was excellent!!
It took us 1h from the car all the way to the bottom of the climb, mostly through the flats. It is a very long and boring approach through a pretty valley; very scenic. Another hour later and we reached the top of La Canal; we had a quick drink and snack in the wind and flying snow, and then we enjoyed a lovely ski down through two forests in great powder!!
It was definitely the best ski so far this season, and in spite of the long and tiring approach it is a lovely area worth coming back to in the future. We did a total of 618m for 12,8km travelled.