Trans Pyrenees, part five

A journey from the Mediterranean Sea to the North Atlantic coastline

Camera: Canon EOS 1Ds MKIII, EOS 5D mkII
Lens: Canon EF 16-35 mm. f/4.0L IS, EF 24-105 mm. f/4.0L IS, EF 70-200 mm. f/2.8 IS II

Today my Geländewagen, and maybe also my life, was saved by my Aussie mate John, and by four pieces of plastic, - know in the off-road community as Maxtrax.

John, Vicky and I was climbing the Pyrenees to finally claim the highest elevation we would encounter in the mountain-range. But our forward motion was put to a standstill by a large collection of snow and ice on the track, making it impassable. I my wisdom I turned around and intended to climb another track to make a detour, I was not prepared to accept failure. My stubbornness let me to try to pass another collection of ice blocking the path. But suddenly, probably due to the incline of the piste and the fact that the ground was soaking wet from the melt-water under the ice, my truck started to slide sideways down the hill, digging the left-hand set of tires into the mud. The incline was really really bad, and the muddy field slowly gave in, resulting in a more and more dangerous lean of the truck toward the valley deep beneath. I can't really remember the last time I was as scared as I was today. I was certain I would watch my truck tumble down the hill, with or without me in it, within only a few minutes. The incline of the hillside itself and the slippery mud made it impossible to gain any forward motion, even with all three lockers engaged. For each turn of the wheels they just dug themselves deeper, and the dangerous incline of the truck just got so much more freaking scary.

We then decided to try and pull the G back towards Johns Defender by use of it's winch. But lucky we then decided this might not turn out to be such a great idea, because if the G-wagen would roll down the hill during the pull, it would certainly take the Defender down with it. So, now our only chance was the Maxtrax, after a very long time and some extensive digging we finally secured my G-wagen and got it back onto the track. Only problem remaining was that it now was on the far side of the ice, and there was no going forward on the track as the spots of ice just got more intensive and plain impassable.

Only option was to get the G-wagen back over the scary ice-path. I decided to air-down the tires that was on the upper side of the piste, and we then made a path by digging away most of the ice and snow with a shovel. On the lower part of the ice we made a bridge by use of the Maxtrax. Another hour later the truck was on stable ground.

At this point it was getting dark and cold, and we still had to back-track a fair distance in order to find some proper ground to set up camp for the night. Today I was very lucky and very thankful that I was not on my own in the mountains, today I also learned to appreciate the value of having a set of Maxtrax by hand.

Thank you John for your invaluable help.

Location: Pyrenees, Andorra