FREERIDE ESPANA: Martin Webrant and Reine Barkered rip it up in the Pyrenees of Spain
Here at Black Diamond it’s all about the down. That’s why we are psyched to have skiers like Reine Barkered and Martin Webrant on our team. All year these guys are on the freeride prowl to find tasty powder and big, high-speed lines—ideal riders to highlight in our 2010 Freeride brochure, especially after they rallied down to Spain from their native Sweden for two weeks and blew it up.
Below is a video they made of their trip and photos taken by ace photog Martin Soderqvist, plus the essay Webrant wrote for our 2010 Freeride brochure. To get a copy of the brochure, email our customer service crew at email@example.com and they’ll ship you out a fresh one.
To see a sampling of the gear Webrant and Barkered used during their Spain trip, go here.
By Martin Webrant
It was mid February and my humble friend photographer Martin Söderqvist and I left a sunny Colorado to meet up with Reine Barkered for some fun in the Spanish Pyrenees. Thirty-five hours later, after missing all of our five booked flights and a four-hour drive from the airport we arrived at our first stop. By the time we arrived at the hotel Reine was already there, welcoming us with beers from the mini-bar. He was happy to see us, knowing that the upcoming week would be full of fun and good times skiing together—something that all the three of us knew for sure after all these winters together on different mountains throughout the world.
We woke up the next morning in the charming old town Jaca ready to head off to Astun, a small ski resort located almost on the border with France in the western part of the Spanish Pyrenees. In the car on our way up the mountain we were all stoked and curious to see what Spain had to offer us… three free riders with big skis. Luckily on our first day we had bluebird and got a good view of the spectacular surroundings: you could see 360 degrees with huge 3000-plus meter snow-covered peaks and the green valleys far down below. Plus, we were the only ones skiing off-piste, so we had all the good snow and sweet runs to ourselves! Really easy access as well—just a short hike up or traverse and then end up by some lift or piste far down. After two awesome days, charging and exploring all that we could find, the clouds and bad weather caught up to us on our last day there. We still had a sweet face with some nice turns to be done before leaving Astun. It looked like an easy steep hike that was already boot packed, and no tracks coming down, yeehaa! At first we wondered if it was a giant with three-meter long legs who had walked up the mountain; we just could not understand the huge size of the track. Unfortunately we quickly realized that the person who had set the track had walked back down in the same one, creating the most awful boot pack ever, ahhrgg! Forty-five struggling minutes later we were at the top, ready to put our signature on the white snowfields below. We all dropped in at well-picked spots and skied long, fast big turns with huge grins on our face; it was so worth it. Now we felt like we could leave Astun, so we skied down to the parking lot, changed gear and jumped into the rental car—which took the word “overloaded” to a whole new dimension—and headed east towards our next stop, Formigal.
Formigal is located in the side-valley just about 20 kilometers east of Astun, so the storm was also on it’s way here and it hit us good! Usually during storm weather you play around skiing the trees, the bad part for us was that Formigal have about 30 total trees spread out on the whole mountain, which left us skiing in a total whiteout snowstorm for two days. The good part was that on our third and last day the sun was out until a bit after noon and the storm had given us 40 centimeters of fresh powder. With the sun out we quickly scooped the terrain, did some fast runs of the lifts in the knee-deep before heading off to a short steep run. Söderqvist shoot the run from the other side, getting a good view of the run, which started off with a small cliff and a nice, pretty narrow pitch. We decided to ski it together, Reine dropped in first with me just a few meters behind him, three or four turns later I see Reine exploding. He hit a snow-wall in full speed, made a front flip to an instant stop in the deep pow. He looked up at me, as I stopped next to him, with a huge smile on his snow-covered face and said giggling: “I did not see that one!” We both laughed, high-fived and skied down to Söderqvist who had caught it all on film. Then the clouds came back in and left us with bad sight and flat light. We decided to call it a day, and head for the road to Baqueira Beret, our final destination and playground for the last two days on our Pyrenees trip.
Once again we woke up and looked out our windows to see nothing but grey fog and clouds, yet another day in the mist. Luckily on our last day the weather was nothing like the day before, we got to see Bagueira from it’s best side, under blue sky with a layer of fresh pow pow. This is the biggest ski area in Spain and it had some super cool terrain and we did our best to get a piece of the cake. It tasted so sweet, but with only one day we didn’t get enough of the goodies, so we for sure have to come back someday to taste it all!
— Martin Webrant