longest night summit camp
Do cheap flights ever turn out to be cheap? Not really. But to be honest the lure of a couple of days on my favourite Mediterranean island is hard to resist….price irrespective.
This is a trip with a purpose; nay an agenda. I’ve traversed the Tramuntana three times now and this is a little look at a ‘missing link’ route that should allow me to stitch together my idea of the ultimate high-level backpack. The secondary idea is to pitch on a summit and forget Christmas.
Participants: Solo me
Weather: Sunny !
Afternoon one: Around 12km (8 miles) and 1150m
Becoming set in one’s ways is a sad thing- but here I am at the same pre-bus café as usual, having the same breakfast as usual. Comforting perhaps. Rituals observed.
More sadly still I have a pack full (OK, two) of gristle pies….and the odd cake.
The monastery at Lluc is swarming with Christmas spirit, families’ picnicking in the bright cold air. I cast a baleful eye in their direction and attempt to adorn myself with the mantle of the ‘competent loner of the mountains’……which is where I will ‘soon’ be, up on that plateau right of centre.
It’s a long spin with around 700m of altitude gain up through woods of holm oak and the occasional olive tree past the charcoal burning sites and sundry goats before hitting the staircase of a restored path up to the old snow storage areas.
Puig Tomir on the right, stretching across to Puig Roig towards the centre; those blue things in the background being the sea and sky.
Climbing up through the Voltes d’en Galileu.
The climb up to the plateau around the snow stores of Galileu at 1100m.
The last time I was up here the casa de neu here were in a state of disrepair – a lot of restorative work has been done on them. Not quite sure I like it.
The cairn marking the unmapped path breaking out west over an unnamed 1180m peakette is still there – a rest on the way gives time to absorb a tasty spinach and pine nut pie.
Puig Major with its listening station is the highest peak on the island; I’ve yet to climb it.
A drop down to the Col de Telegraf then a short climb up to the Col des Prat (insert usual joke here…again) creates dilemma.
My favourite Mallorcan mountain, Massanella looms above – but I’m not going to have time to get up it, get back down, find some water and then pitch on a summit; sadly it has to be foregone for the downward skip to a good water source at the Font des Prat.
Drink a litre and carry two up the 300m ascent towards the Puig des Tossals Verds. Some apprehension – you really don’t want to be wandering about in the dusk on this terrain…and I’m wondering if the scraped level shelters that were on the 1118m summit a few years ago are still there – there’s nothing else.
Phew…..the tent goes up really quickly – the titanium nail pegs brought along specifically for this bivvy prove their worth.
Dusk masks the day as I very slowly cook dinner, although it is OK light-wise as eyes adjust to still be outside the tent at 19:00.
There is an inversion rolling in over the sea to the north.
The changing light and colours fascinate (me – probably not you!).
Warm enough in my new uber-light sleeping bag. A couple of films ripped (legally!) from Netflix pad out a chunk of the longest night of the year.
Day two: Around 14km (9 miles) and 500m
At around 06:00 I’m awake in that cosseted blanket of warmth that precludes an early start, just as well as the light does not begin to steal into the day until 07:40 or so.
The night has been cold – probably down to near-freezing but my water bottles are crystal free; down in the valleys I later find ice on some sunless puddles.
Wearing just about everything I take a coffee….and a gristle pie.
A final (thank God) picture of my little bivvy enclave with the sun burning off the morning mists over Southern Mallorca.
Thank you air mat.
Then to adventure and the missing link for my traverse; dropping down the south-western flank of Puig des Tossals Verds via es Replans to enter the gorge of the Salt des Cans (which Google translates to jumping dogs?) – expecting to find cairns as per usual.
I’m going to be swimming through a lot of this later – hazard no. 1 Càrritx. It can slice you nicely, but is possibly more mercurial when spread over boulders as it becomes a fine slipstone.
There have been no spray-painters out this way and the cairns are hard to spot – there are two in this picture.
Perhaps a little more evident.
A fair path snakes down into leg-snapping terrain.
The fun begins – boulder drop-offs of six feet at a time in Càrritx that is at shoulder height; it’s like wrestling, and tiring, careful work. For work it is.
That little section took a good 15 minutes to cross.
Collapse onto a scree path…I’m welcoming scree? It must have been bad!
Careful boulder hopping is more my element…but a slip is not a good idea in this lonely place.
Mallorcan natural hazard no. 2 ,spiky little bugger I don’t know the name of.
But a few minutes encounter with it.
No wonder the locals wear grown-up trousers.
Getting a little testy and wondering where it will all end….a hopeful glance.
Sanctuary. The main path is rejoined. I’m knackered.
Shake fist one last time at the missing link.
And continue to a chained section.
I’m crossing the Torrent d’Almedra (dry as a bone as it is dammed) to cross to the Canonada d’Emaya, a pipeline taking water down to valley settlements from Cuber Reservoir.
So exciting….especially as my flashlight is in my cooking pot deep in my pack…
Weather closing in.
A semester of relative indolence finds me in less than tip-top shape and the horror awaits…a 1000m descent to Soller…but first the easy climb to the Col de l’Ofre.
…and a companion considerably more dapper than the usual miscreants who accompany me.
But it has to be faced.
Poised like a lemming at the top of the knee-annihilating 1000m descent to Binaraix….deciding not to stop apart from to take pictures is probably where it all went wrong. A slightly twanging achillies preventing a third day of festivities; the errors of not-youth.
A welcome hotel with very welcome very hot water.
And an unwelcome image…
A not-so-smug sheep…
Perhaps I should get some long trousers
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Nice report.. closer and closer to the big boy pants Lots of pies on your trips... not saying that's a bad thing.. looks tasty. Was thinking "Manon des Sources" while reading your post, but that was a French thing, i think.
Thanks for the pleasant read!
Thanks for the pleasant read!
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