Swedish skier in Romania

Skiing in Balea Lac, Fagaras Mountains – a thrilling adventure. This is the story of one of the best days in my skiing life. In the middle of March 2007, I was staying with some friends on a mountain hotel in Balea Lac in Transylvania. There were only one option to come to the hotel and that was to use the cabin. During the summer there is normally an open road, but during our stay it was buried in lots of snow. Beside the skiing adventure I must highlight the amazing cultural experience with excellent local food and drinks. Morning The alarm on my mobile was set for seven o’clock, sharp. A quick glance through the window to check the sight. Yesterday afternoon the fog had been thick like porridge and it was still making the sight poor. I went down to the restaurant and joined some of the guys for a fresh cup of delicious Rumanian coffee. Iulian, our professional mountain guide was also there, calm as always. He made the energy level rise when he told us that the fog would disappear after breakfast and that everybody should be ready for our first climb at eight o’clock. As a result of this statement there where a lot of enthusiastic faces that loaded energy during the delicious breakfast. Am Everybody was ready outside the hotel at 8:00. Iulian had planned where to start and we headed north over the lake, covered with ice and snow. Then at last it was time for the first climb (not walk). With the skis hanging on the backpack and the sticks in our hands the crew formed a line that slowly moved up the steep slope. I realised that the “heat was on” and opened my clothes more and more to get better cooling. Learning by doing is a useful method and after this first climb I was able to avoid filling my sunglasses with sweat. During the climb the sky cleared up gradually and we reached the ledge that was the target for our first climb one by one. We waited for everyone to join and recover. Then, finally it was time for the first run and now the sight was good. The conditions were good with hard crust and you could choose a line of your own. The first run ended at the lake and the motivation was on top for another climb. As a reflection of our spirit the sky cleared up totally and the sun was shining like our happy faces. The second climb had two optional targets. The same as the first, or continue to a higher ledge. It was a personal choice and the crew slpitted up. When we reached our targets this second climb we had learned to enjoy even more. It really is an amazing feeling to sit down, drink some water, admire the surroundings and start to analyze possible lines for the coming run. No hurry, concentrate on the feeling and store it back in your head for the future. This of course increased the joy of the second run. Now we didn’t stop at the lake. We continued down the valley to the starting point of the cabin. As an example of the hospitality a bar opened and you could enjoy a local beer when waiting for the cabin driver to show-up. Back at the hotel we refuelled with a tasteful soup. Pm After lunch Iulian had made new plans. Due to the heat of the sun the targets from before noon was too dangerous and we headed on the opposite direction. The climb started outside the hotel. This slope was even steeper. After some 30 minutes Iulian stopped and ordered us to cross a slope one by one. More could be risky. We had two optional targets with different altitude. Eventually everyone was in place enjoying life like never before and learning that water is the best possible drink in the right circumstances. The snow was hard crust and easy to ski on. The run down the valley was fantastic. Iulian found a safe and varied way down with different rake and snow conditions behind every turn. I will always remember when he stopped, pointed with a stick and said; “look here, tracks from a bear”. We continued quickly and after the same procedure as last time we took the cabin back to the hotel. We took a short break and then it was time for climb no. four. Now the legs felt a bit soft, but we made it and could finalize the skiing this marvellous day outside the hotel. The sun was still shining and we ordered “Ursus” (bear) beer, relaxed and admired the surroundings. Many thanks to Trajan, Iulian and the rest of the crew.

Staffan Barrefors, Sweden, march 2007