The Putorana expedition in winter has been the biggest project I’ve been involved to date. It was about going with a group of Spanish and Russian alpinists (ice climbers), to a remote place in search of ice falls that had never been climbed. We did it. Not only they had never climbed, some of them were not known to exist, because nobody had been before.

Putorana is a plateau, located in the Russian Arctic, in the Taymyr region, on the northwest edge of the Siberian Central Plateau. The closest and most important city in the area is Norilsk, a peculiar city, with restricted access for foreigners, (special permission is required to enter), which has nickel extraction as the main source of income.

Putorana is itself a National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an isolated mountainous system that contains arctic and sub-arctic ecosystems intact to date. Its remoteness, very extreme weather conditions (in winter exceed 50 degrees below zero), the danger of avalanches, the amount and management of the necessary permits to enter, among other factors, makes the ecology and biology of this place keep practically unchanged by man.

And here, thanks to Miguel Angel Julián, is where we got Rafa Vadillo, Dani Gantona, David Graells, Ivan Temerev, Vlad Golub, Fedor Kopytov and myself, Ramon Dies.

We recovered Miguel A. in the second part of the expedition, which consisted of visiting the Nenets brigades, nomadic reindeer herders, who in the Taymyr, along the west bank of the Yenisei River, have their easternmost territories. The Taymyr nenets have certain peculiarities due to the influence of the Dolgans, another indigenous ethnic group from this area of the Taymyr. Other ethnic groups such as the Nganasans are also typical of Taymyr, but their original territory is much further north and they no longer graze, since the government forced them to sacrifice all their reindeer, reportedly due to a contagious disease.

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We arrived in Norilsk on Saturday, April 6, 2019, with very mild temperatures of around -10 º C. Logistics was a challenge. Although for all my previous expeditions in the Russian Arctic, I know that the logistics are “complicated”, even for the Russian guides, this one took the prize.

In this expedition we coined the phrase: “In Putorana, the best plan is no plan“.

The way of doing things in Russia is different from what we are used to, and in the Russian Arctic it is even more special. Manage the permits, give a thousand explanations, it is very complicated and the logistics and communication with the people who have to help you, is not at all easier. Even if they spoke English, and that is not the case.

Things as easy as arranging a meeting at a time in a place, managing a phone card with data, drawing up a plan or a calendar … In short, anything you have spoken or agreed to do, even though it has been perfectly understood, most likely it does not resemble reality at all. And you will have to fit the real situation and adapt it in the best way possible to your project, to be able to perform as close as possible to what you had in mind. It is a typical phenomenon of the Russian Arctic.

I will always remember the last sentence of Miguel A. when we said goodbye at the airport in Barcelona: “Whatever happens, be patient, be patient” Miguel A. is a wise man. And that I already knew what I expected from other times. (Yamalia: “The Migration Nenet“, “Arctic expedition on a snowmobile” Chukotka: “The great ethnic adventure of Chukotka“, “Lorino: Whales and Whalers, Living History“)

We arrived at the Plateau de Putorana after traveling 160 km to the Base Camp, with a lot of personnel and several vehicles. Not because it is planned, simply because it is what appeared there.

Three huge 6-wheeled trekols appeared, which belonged to the National Park, (we found out after we returned), 3 snowmobiles, and many people. At the end we had even a cook (Tanya)  during the expedition, a luxury, which also helped to control everything. A  ranger of the National Park, Tim, a big and strong guy, also a snowmobile driver, who turned out to be a great person and now a good friend. Other drivers, who drank more than a sponge, and people that we found on the way, hunters, fishermen and even more sponges.

The meteorology and the conditions of the snow and the land, is another key factor so that a planning in the arctic can be twisted. Our trip with the trekols was very slow and difficult for the drivers. Not only for the wiski or samagon, but also because the so mild temperatures of the last days (-5ºC, -10ºC) combined with previous temperatures much lower and maintained in time (-40ºC, -50ºC), made the snow over the lakes and rivers, (in arctic territories usually these are the roads), hide huge puddles with liquid water. A trap for these 6-wheel giants.

This phenomenon is called overflooding or наледь, it can be for two reasons.

In very cold conditions, -40ºC -50ºC for several days, the water of rivers and lakes freezes to the bottom. Then the water that emanates from upwelling can not pass under the ice and passes over it. If afterwards it is not cold and it also snows, the water remains in a semi-liquid state, mixed with snow. A quicksand trap.

The second cause is due to the weight of the snow, which sinks the ice layer, it presses the lower layer of water in liquid state and this overflows by the margins, accumulating liquid water above the ice)

Thus, a long journey of 1 day became 3 days on the road. Eh, but it was very interesting! I learned a lot. On the way, especially at the beginning, we cross with ice fishermen, hunters and housekeepers, with whom we share food, but above all drink and talks.

(Types with a lonely life, very happy when they see people, usually drunk from the first hours, in the afternoon they are no longer people)

Even one day we went fishing and we approached a cabin inside the forest where there were hunters. A little more talk and drink. The samagon works miracles when you know little Russian. It seems that you speak and understand perfectly.

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Once we arrived at the base camp, we had 2 days, of the 5 initially planned to explore the valleys adjacent to the main valley at the end of Lake Sobache (озеро Собачье).

But again the conditions of the snow, and the terrain were not the best unless you want to play Russian roulette on Russian ground. The first day of exploration, then, ended up being a great day of ski-daytrip, with all the climbing equipment, which we returned it to the base camp without taking out of the backpack.

(The flanks of the mountains of the Putorana plateau are huge slopes of angles of about 40º, without trees or anchors for the snow layers of any type.) Uniform and very extensive slopes, avalanches scars of hundreds of meters in length and their debris are seen  reaching the bottom of the valley, in the widest valleys. In narrower valleys, perpendicular to the main wide valley, an even small avalanche would be a deadly trap)

A lot of soft snow, ideal slopes for the initiation of avalanches and sun; the thermal contrast at noon was more than remarkable. In addition, most did not have ADV’s. (Avalanche Detector Victim)

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(When the logistics were decided months ago, it was agreed that each one would bring their ADV, only the shovels and probes for each one would be obtained by the Russian team in Norilsk. On arrival, none of them had ADV, and they only had 2 probes and 1 shovel)

(Shortly after entering the secondary valley, after seeing the great scars of slab avalanches, we find the first mousetrap, a distance of no more than 100 meters – 150 meters.) The Russians passed without even thinking about it, with David. Rafa, Dani and me stood, observing the situation, to pass by without knowing the stability of the snow uphill was to play “Russian roulette.” In this situation, you miss the avalanche broadcasts a lot. While the rest of the team had made their decision and waited on the other side, we decided to turn around, climb a nearby, more secure slope and observe the situation from above. After thinking and checking for a long time, we decided to move on. The rest of the team was already gone, and they waited us up the valley).

(A few hours later, the valley was boxed in even more than the first time, big slopes of 40º to the right and left, uniform and smooth.That was too much, and with all the safety equipment we thought we would go there). Vlad, who is from Norilsk and knows something about the mountains there, said he was “really scared” and did not want to go too. I think that if we had not been, I would have followed the other 2 mates in spite of everything).

At the end, Ivan and Fedor, when arriving at a waterfall of about 15 meters, covered with snow, despite being vertical, they also turn around.

The second and last day.  The last opportunity, or all or nothing. We chose a slightly more open valley, about 6 kilometers long, and it seems to have a waterfall just below a hill without dangerous slopes laden with snow above. There were many waterfalls but it seems feasible in a single day and also “safe”.

So we began to go up the valley, without feeling so much those lumps in the throat, by the danger of avalanches. After going up a slope trying to make a path through the larch forest and some birch, we came to a river, which we used to continue up. There,  I entertained watching tracks and signs of wildlife: Martens, partridges, wolverines, eagles nests, and the previous afternoon we could see a pretty close up muse (a pregnant female). We were already inside the inner protection zone of the park. A beautiful place, lonely and wild. After a few hours, At the end of climbing the valley, we reach an even more beautiful circus, which is seen only at the last moment, when suddenly appear, some of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve ever seen. .. Is it because of the emotion of the moment?)

The climbers could climb already in the afternoon – evening, to almost 30 degrees below zero. Then it was time to pick everything up, pretty stiff already, and we started the return. A downhill with X-country skis, in survival mode, making the angel figure with the snow several times, but falling face to face instead of back.

It turned out to be a great day. And although we were able to explore and scale much less than expected, the accumulation of lived experiences, all we learned, the people we  met, and that epic ending was most rewarding and satisfying. We have a thousand reasons to return. There is a lot to explore. And now we know how to do it, with whom and where.

If you want to know more about this story, there is a lot to tell, you just have to wait for the movie to come out. That will come out. Do not miss it!

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Prensa:

 

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We’re back. This tour organized by X-Plore and guided by Amaroq Explorers along with Eduard Lopez has been a great experience. We can say that we have discovered Iceland as it is: With all its lights and its shadows.
We have accompanied a fantastic  of  CEC ‘s  veterans group   (Center Excursionista de Catalunya), one of the oldest sports clubs in the peninsula, founded in 1876. 14 people with a lot of accumulated experience, iron legs and an eternally young spirit.


On a 12-day trip we toured this island, discovering the precious, wild and unfrequented lands of the North, where we were able to enjoy magnificent landscapes, wildlife watching, warm up motors and legs with solitary excursions, and try some local delicacies like The wild trout, fished 100 meters from where we sleep.

The North and East of Iceland is a land to discover it with tranquility, enjoying the solitude of its corners and its landscapes.

The South is another Iceland. Very spectacular. Scenes from postcard, natural wonders, … from the guides, and it shows. You have to see it, because it’s worth it. At least for now, because we started to fill some of these places with hordes of coaches, tourist attractions, and souvenir shops at astronomical prices. Managing this in the immediate future will be one of the challenges the Icelanders will face.

At the moment, to solve that are the legs. Our CEC friends, after a few days of bearing, put their piles to the guides and visited exceptional places, far from most people, who are left taking photos and activities at the foot of the waterfall, glacier, volcano or hot spring. Excursions some 7 or 8 hours to enjoy the nature with tranquility and to the rhythm of each one.

Next year more and better!!

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La Wilderness Guides Association organizó diversos talleres de primeros auxilios, búsqueda de personas y supervivencia en situaciones límite para profesionales, a través de su escuela asociada EWES (European Wilderness Education School)

La principal asociación internacional de guías de entornos agrestes, la Wilderness Guides Association (WGA), ha organizado su congreso anual en Guardiola de Berguedá.  El encuentro tubo lugar entre los días 20 y 23 de Octubre en Cal Companyó. Esta cita concentró guías profesionales de países como Finlandia, Holanda, Rusia, de Cataluña y del resto del Estado.

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Las actividades y los instructores

Entre los instructores de la jornada destacan nombres de aventureros de prestigio internacional y conocedores de las técnicas más extremas de supervivencia, rastreo de animales, búsqueda de personas, primeros auxilios y orientación sin instrumentos de navegación. Varios de los instructores que dirigirán las actividades se dedican al entrenamiento de cuerpos policiales, militares de élite y equipos de rescate y de emergencias, además de llevar a los clientes más atrevidos hasta los rincones más inhóspitos de la terra. Se trata de Gerard van den Berg, Jaakko Heikka, Carlos Vico, Jose María Galán y Ramon Dies, entre otros. Los asistentes a la cita pudieron participar en diversos talleres que recrearon situaciones reales y que pusieron a prueba su capacidad de adaptación i respuesta.

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Actividades abiertas a la prensa

Algunos de los talleres más espectaculares tuvieron lugar el viernes, 21 de Octubre. Consistieron por un lado en el rastreo de fauna y de búsqueda de personas, y por la tarde se realizó un simulacro de cuatro casos de rescate y primeros auxilios. Los periodistas pudieron ver en directo la capacidad de reacción delante de casos inesperados en situaciones límite.

http://www.lavanguardia.com/vida/20161021/411190623425/guias-internacionales-catalunya.html

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http://www.regio7.cat/bergueda/2016/10/21/guie-natura-salvatge-darreu-del/384787.html
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Wilderness Guides Association (WGA)

La WGA es la entidad internacional que reconoce y certifica la aptitud de los guías especializados en entornos agrestes, que trabajan en localizaciones remotas como el Ártico, los desiertos o la taiga. Son profesionales dedicados a la organización de viajes de aventura sin contacto con entornos civilizados durante varias semanas, con una exigencia adaptada a la capacidad de los expedicionarios. Los guías que forman parte de esta organización se rigen por un estricto Código Ético que los compromete a respetar el entorno natural y las culturas indígenas. Entre la actividad de la WGA destacan las jornadas anuales que la entidad organiza a través de las escuelas asociadas, como la que este año tendrá lugar en Cataluña. El año pasado se celebró en Holanda y el próximo año tendrá lugar en Finlandia. En 2018 en Canadá.

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This weekend we made a new edition ofCompass Navigation Training Program Basic Level, in the unique lanscapes of the High Vall Fosca.

Surrounded by peaks of almost 3,000 meters, more than 30 mountain lakes, mountain goats and marmots, our new friend Laura, had to charge her batteries with the compass, maps and GPS.

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With she, we have enjoyed fantastic days, a magic sunset and a spectacular full moon.

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Many thanks Laura!

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See you soon!

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Nenets still rely on their traditional clothing, which is compiled by women. Men wear the malitsa, a layer made of 4 reindeer skins, the nearest to the fur inside and leather the outer coat. It is compiled with a hood and mittens integrated into the suit . When the cold is extreme, still carry over another garment: the gus, which men wear the part of the leather on the inside and the outside skin. In that case, a man  is able to spend all night and sleep outside with the herd, at temperatures of 50 degrees below zero. Yagushka is the women dress, which has a double layer of skin, made from 8 reindeer skins and tied ahead. Finally, both men and women wear boots that come to their hips, with an inner layer (tobaki) and the outer boot (Kisy).

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It is a curious fact that clothing when is too old or is already in very bad conditions, it is not discarded, but they carry to forest and hanging from a tree, because they believe it will be useful in the afterlife.

treball dona nenet

The housing of the Nenets is the chum, a space where they live and work, made by reindeer skins, which are placed over a structure of long wooden sticks, many of which have special place and are not interchangeable. In general, each chum, lives a family, and chums number depends on the size of the camp, the place chosen for installation always depends on the resources available: pasture, water and firewood; but also their beliefs. When the boss of the family find the right place, digs into the ground the khorei, his stick reindeer driving: that will be the center of the chum.

chum desfet

The space inside and outside the chum, is always distributed in the same way. Sleds and caravans are arranged in semicircles around the chum, with sleds of provisions and belongings of women placed in front or near the door, where it is also their workplace. Men’s things stay at the back, which is where they usually also work. Finally, the sacred sled is always placed in the back of the chum, and pointing to its center, The “toilets” are located away from the camp, and separated the men from the women.

secred sled

They often carry a stick to go to “restroom”, worth doing like them … It turns out that the reindeer find  irresistible salt of urine and do not pay attention can be absolutely surrounded !!!!

‘We’re leaving in three days !! But before we left we will give you time to tell you something else.

‘See you soon, then !!

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There is very little for April 15. We are eager to seeing our friends Nenets and our friend and fellow, Aleksey. Everything is ready, and the visa is in our passport already.

That who are the Nenets? They are the shepherds from the End of the World.

You see, there is a place where winter temperatures drop to 50º C below zero. Where meanders, under the ice, the fifth longest river in the world and where even far beyond where the eye can see, there is only meadows, streams and dwarf shrubs. In this place, it thrived long time ago, a strong and vibrant culture, which called this land, Yamal. Yamal in the language of this culture, in nenet,  means “World’s End“.

nenet tempesta

The Siberian Arctic Nenet people are the last representatives of an unique style of herdering. They travel with their herds of reindeer, throughout the year, following ancient migration routes, a distance of over 1,000 kilometers, from the pastures of mosses and lichens in summer from the North, to the winter pastures in the taiga, just south of the Arctic Circle. A large area that has been  their Nenet’s home for more than a millennium.

The Nenet people live in the polar regions of northeastern Europe and northwestern Siberia, from the Kanin Peninsula in the White Sea to the delta of the Yenisey. They also inhabit the Arctic Ocean islands and the Kola Peninsula. A territory of about one million square kilometers. The homeland of the Nenets is the tundra, a country of permafrost, many rivers, lakes (about 50,000) and extensive wetlands. Along the banks of the Ob River, the Nenet settlements reach the long extensive territory of  forests of the Siberian taiga.

nens nenet

In the Yamal Peninsula, which belongs to the Russian Federation and occupies an area of 1.5 times France, live more than 10,000 nomadic herders and 300,000 “domestic”reindeer.

When spring comes, the Nenets and their flocks begin their journey towards north. During this trip they will be setting up camps every three or four days. In the caravan,  head of the family goes first, with a light sled; after children and women, after sleds with utensils and tools and chum, their mobile home, then the reindeer herd, and end their sacred sleigh with its special cargo.

nenet camp

Did you enjoyed with what we have told? If so, and you want to know more about this amazing culture, before we leave you we will tell you more.

See you soon!

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¡Hola a todos!

Esta Semana Santa hemos visitado algunos de los lugares del Ariège por donde discurre nuestra travesía “Huellas de Fuego y Niebla“. Los bosques de hayas de la cara norte, por donde se pasea de vez en cuando algún oso, están preciosos también ahora, todavía despojados de sus hojas, que yacen en el suelo, cubriéndolo completamente de una alfombra cobriza muy esponjosa. Por todas partes el agua rebosa de la tierra, fuentes, manantiales, ríos y barrancos dejan correr el agua.

Los prados de los valles, tienen un verde revitalizante, y las aves ya empiezan a cantar. Mientras, en las cumbres, la nieve todavía interrumpe los pasos en los collados, que dentro de poco se abrirán.

Hemos saludado a los guardias de la Gite l’Escolan. L’ Escolan era la antigua escuela del pueblo, construida en 1906, ahora completamente renovada y convertida en un gran alojamiento cálido y confortable. Situada en una pequeña aldea del pueblo de Ustou, en Bidous, en una zona natural y salvaje donde os encontraréis en un auténtico remanso de paz.

riu Alet davant el refugi

Jean-Charles y Pauline son una pareja acogedora, que regenta una casa preciosa a las afueras del pueblo, junto al río. Un sitio rodeado de un paisaje precioso, con una gran jardín exterior donde poder relajarse y disfrutar del buen tiempo, y un acogedor salón con su hogar de leña para hacer lo mismo si el tiempo no acompaña.

jardi l'escolan

La comida nos encantó, el queso de la zona, que Jean nos trajo a la mesa, es muy bueno. A mí el que más me gustó fue el curado (espectacular, casi lloro) , y el vino de la casa… ¡Los postres que prepara Pauline son deliciosos, también!

Dispone de habitaciones dobles y para grupos, con calefacción, todas con su baño y ducha. Con sábanas y edredones.

Para los que no pueden desengancharse de la tecnología dispone de Wi-Fi gratuito.

Esta Gite cuenta con 22 plazas, y lo hemos elegido como el refugio para pernoctar durante la ruta. ¡Espero que lo disfrutéis, tanto como nosotros!

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Os dejamos el link por si queréis más información: www.lescolan.com

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We are back !!

This week in Hardangervidda has been intense. A journey on skis and pulka in which we have conducted workshops of all kinds, within the course of Cold Environtments (Wilderness Guides) of W.G.A. Led by X-Plore, we have handled nivology workshops and navigation compass.

There have been eight days in total, from 1st to March 8th, in which students, all mountain leaders (UIMLA) and ourselves, have expanded and strengthened our expertise in leadership, group management, conflict resolution, winter camping , survival in cold environments, tracking, repairing stoves, pulkas driving techniques, telecommunications, terrain safety circulation, moisture management and much more.

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We have shared some fantastic days with a spectacular people. New friends already.

We found everyone very soon the day 1, Prat Airport (Barcelona), to catch our flight to Bergen with Norwegian with more packages which carries Santa Claus on his sleigh.

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Once in Bergen, we spent the night in a highly recommended Hotel, Marken Gjesthus, which is very close to the Bus Station, and still closer to the Central Train Station, we took shortly before 8:00 am on next, heading towards Finse. This route is recognized as one of the most beautiful travel by train in the world. I agree.

Once in Finse, we prepared all the equipment together with pulkas, who previously rode the train and, ready to go !!

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We enjoyed, learned and shared everything and everyone, surrounded by spectacular scenery. An environment that can be overwhelming, despite staying relatively close to civilization. In which we could  feel inside our bones how cold is able to bite. We arrived at temperatures of  – 25.4 ° C. And we slept one night in a makeshift shelter, no tents, no stoves, and someone even without sleeping bag. Alone and distanced from each other. A long night, indeed.

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We have returned with everything we need to organize more than one activity in this area. Soon, we will prepare and be all set to share with you all that we have lived.

We hope to see you here at Hardangervidda !!

See you soon!!

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Hardangervidda is the largest high plateau in northern Europe and the largest national park in Norway. This park is a highland area extremely valuable. It is home to the largest herds of wild reindeer is in Europe and is the southernmost of the snow owl habitat, Arctic fox and other arctic species of flora and fauna.

One of the main reasons to turn this territory in the National Park was to ensure a good habitat for populations of wild reindeer. In Hardangervidda wild reindeer herds still their seasonal migration routes and without too much danger. Hardangervidda is also well known for its good fishing.

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Here, the famous explorer, Roald Amundsen, nearly died in the winter of 1896. But his failure set him on the path of training, study and exploration that led to his historic conquest of the South Pole.
<< Lost in a snowstorm, on a frigid day in 1896, disoriented and directionless, Roald Amundsen and his partner Leon decided to bivouac. They dropped their huge backpacks, their long skis were their shoes and dug a hole in the snow.
After digging two holes, as shallow graves, they got into their sleeping bags, made from reindeer skin. They kept shaking terribly. It was January in the mountains of southwestern Norway, when snow and wind, darkness and biting cold-winter-wolves conspire to kill the unprepared. Having skied for three weeks to cross the 100 miles across the Hardangervidda plateau, wandering between snowstorms and bivouacked repeatedly became two thin and weak beings. Their stove did not work, and they did not eat for days.
Overnight, the snow piled up on the sleeping bags, muffling the sound of roaring wind. The humidity of the slow breathing of the brothers froze the interiors of their sleeping bags. The weight of the snow almost buried their bodies in that place forever. They were almost buried alive.
The next day, with 23-year-old Roald she woke up, found buried in ice, unable to move. But Leon, 25, with crazy effort, was able to escape. Only the tips of the boots of his brother were still visible. Leon, digging frantically, took more than an hour, pulling to get Roald, perace that just before he suffocates.
Later that day, the brothers skied toward the south of the Hardangervidda, frozen and hungry, they found their way to Mogen, a group of wooden huts on the northern edge of a body of water called Vinjefjorden.
There were found by a farmer, who gave them food and welcomed them. >>
Undoubtedly, this experience, Amundsen prepared to become one of the greatest polar explorers of all time. Amundsen, in gratitude, gave his compass to the farmer. His great-grandson, still preserved.
The Hardangervidda became the perfect polar school preparation. Amundsen later recalled wryly that his ski trip “was so strenuous and dangerous as any of my travels”.
This experience marked the course of his life. Ill-equipped and ignorant, flush with youthful arrogance, Amundsen never again commit such errors.
Here he was born one of his most famous phrases: “Adventure is just bad planning.”
In this unique setting, which we deeply respect, not only for its nature and landscapes, but also for being the place where the best of the polar explorers trained their travel history, let’s “getting ready” we.
We’re leaving on March 1, and for 8 days will make a journey on skis and pulka, where we have time to train and conduct various workshops with students of the third Spanish promotional aspirants W.G.A.
also take the opportunity to collect information and contacts, soon be able to share with you, new experiences.

‘You will tell !!

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On Sunday February 21st, we drove to Porté-Puymorens for nivology and avalanches practices with students from TD2 (Mountain Leaders candidates, UIMLA) from CAR de Sant Cugat (High Performance Center). It was a fantastic day. Interesting, entertaining and soooo sunny with springtime temperatures. We did circulation practices in avalanche terrain, quick tests for studying the stability of snow’s mantle, column test, extended column test, clarify doubts and end up with an experiment to detect and display, in a somewhat “spectacular” weak layers of the mantle, with a nice laaarge cup of coffee !!!
It was the first time we did something like that and the result, more than satisfactory.

formacion CAR1
formacion CAR 2

We leave you the link where we got the idea …
video slab avalanche potential & coffee

And now, good luck in the exam !!!

Our results
Our results

If you are interested in performing some course with us and/or obtaining accreditation Acna STA1, contact us here

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