03 May Buff Mountain Festival. The Grand Stage
Zealously watched over by steep mountains to the north and to the south, is the Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park (Spain). Only at its flanks is where nature, in wonderful carelessness, grants access to this impressive natural environment. Through the Espot Valley you can reach the area irrigated by the Escrita River and the Sant Maurici Lake (Estany in Catalan), at the foot of the spectacular silhouette of Els Encantats. The Boi Valley is the other natural entrance to the Park, more characterized by its unique meanders and canals that lend it its name, and where the locality of Barruera can be found, a town that hosts the BUFF® MOUNTAIN FESTIVAL.
Aigüestortes. Summits that exceed three thousand meters, more than 200 lakes of different shapes, colors and depths, animal species and flora of great daintiness and strength at the same time, were witnesses to the activities that make up this spectacular event. Mountain races of different distances, MTB competitions, via ferrata, yoga, rafting, canyoning, trekking, theater, live music, orientation and astronomy workshops, a mini Skyrace and much more; all made for a few unforgettable days for over 1,300 people, many of them families, who will take part part in various activities.
Nature in general and glaciers in particular have sculpted and modeled valleys and cirques, leaving in their wake basins of lakes or estanys so characteristic of this high Catalan mountain. Many of them play with each other connecting through waterfalls and natural intersections. Others, isolated masses of water, are happy to contemplate the splendid mountain that encircles them, and where runners like Pau Bartolo, Aritz Egea, Yeray Duran, Judith Franch, Manu Vilaseca, Gerard Morales, Mario Olmedo, Ismail Razga, Leire Martínez, Eugeni Gil, Nuria Picas and Oihana Azkorbebeitia, passed by not long ago; just some of the participants in the 105, 42, and 21 kilometer races that left no one indifferent on past edition.
The beauty of these mountains is also revealed when the weather conditions turn extreme. Thunderstorms, heavy rain, cold and wind were the protagonists of the final part of the 105-kilometer race. The faces of concern in Gerard Morales, Pau Bartolo and Yeray Duran, speak for themselves of conditions that sometimes force difficult decisions to be made in the interest of safety, especially when the organization is well aware of the hard work and preparation under their belts to be able to confidently tackle 8,000 meters of positive height gain and gradients that exceed 55%.
Everything in this area is of such wild beauty that it provokes mixed feelings in those who leave their paths. On the one hand, serenity and happiness gazing at the perfection of all that extends before you; but on the other hand smallness and vertigo overwhelmed by the immensity and depth of this expanse: the Mata de Valencia de Aneu forest, the cirques of Colomers and Saboredo, the Besiberri valley, the peak of Montardo, the lakes of Cabdella … everything breathes life. Aigüestortes has it all.
Beauty is not exclusive to these lakes, some of which include Serrade, Llong, Negre de Peguera, Mussoles, Morrano, Monges, Dellui, Negre de Portarro, Ratera, Barbs, Munyidera, Travessani, Mangades, Llebreta and Sant Maurici itself. Its hills, peaks and mountain ranges are not far behind. Among them we can name Peguera Peak (2,982 m), Sierra de los Encantados (2,747 m), Comaloforno Peak (3,033 m), Besiberri (3,015 m), Subenuix Peak (2,949 m), Montardo Peak (2,833 m) and Tuc de Ratera (2,857 m).
Strength, courage and guts are absolutely essential to confront a track that is making history for its toughness and technicality, and yet, thanks to it, it is becoming a place of pilgrimage where every year the best runners in the world flock. Its appeal made it the 2016 venue for the Skyrunning World Championships. There must be a good reason.
Mountains. Peaks. Crests. Summits.
Rivers. Waterfalls. Reservoirs. Lakes.
The Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park is brimming with water and life. There is nothing else quite like it.