Climbing Aneto is an impressive task, as a massive glacier clings to its northern side. But on March 1st, 1878, they did just that. Their climb began in meadows, where Marmots would be plentiful in the summer months. As social animals, they would join together to eat grasses, flowers, bulbs, and seeds; and they would utilize members of their group to act as lookouts for raptors overhead.
Soon the climbers rose to a place where even trees became a scarcity and mounds of granite ruled. Higher and colder, all the more to appreciate their woolen socks and mittens and perhaps make use of snow goggles to protect against the glare. They follow a jagged path that will lead to the glacier, ice axe at the ready for it will be climbed crosswise. Each communes with their own unique thoughts, finding individual strengths, and endurance.
Up and up, careful steps, shining sun....moaning wind, the Bearded Vulture's cry. Gliding with a 9 foot wingspan through a territory of 150 square miles, this is a bird of the Spanish Pyrenees. This is a bird that can inspire climbers to tilt back their heads in awe. A bird of the mountains; also named Bone Crusher, for the Bearded Vulture dines on the large bones of sheep and chamois. But only after carrying them to great heights and allowing them to drop to the rocks below. Then, after feeding on the marrow, they swallow the smaller bones.
Here in Minnesota the black ash tree approaches its first full year on earth among the mews of newborn Pine Martens. Blind and tiny they rely on their mother who looks down from their tree nest at the sapling below.
The mountaineers have reached the summit. It is time to go back down; glissading for part of the way, hastening their retreat.