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WELCOME TO 3ld / Last Update: 8-8-03

3ld logo- portrait of Maxy, a 3 legged dog


A new month and time for a content update.

Barely one litre per square metre of rain fell here last month so a new series of snowy months is yet to begin. The hot weather has heated the waters of the Mediterranean Sea to such an extent that the weather forecasters are saying that when the cooler air arrives in the autumn the extra energy in the steamy brine could cause very severe rain storms and with luck a lot of snow.

The saga of the la Massana ski lift continues. Read the SKIING: News section for the latest. There are also some hike reports to read.

NOTE:Links to other sites open in a new window.

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High-mountain Hiking.

Some hikers

This section is mostly devoted to reports of excursions I have recently undertaken in the eastern Pyrenees . I have not done many hikes this summer so there has not been much to report on until now. There are a couple of reports of selected hikes in the HIKING: | Excursions section.

In the summer avalanches are not a problem in the mountains here but forest fires are. High mountain areas are at less risk than the foothills and plains but you must be carefull to avoid doing anything which might start a fire.

Here are some obvious suggestions.

  1. Do not throw away unextinguished cigars or cigarettes.
  2. Better still, do not smoke!
  3. Do not light campfires or barbeque fires except in areas specifically set aside for the purpose and always make sure they are out when you leave.
  4. Leave glass containers at home not on the mountain.

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Top 6 Tips for Safer Hiking

  1. If the weather looks or is forecast to be bad, stay at home. Summer-time often brings afternoon thunder.
  2. Don't go alone (but don't go with people you don't like).
  3. Wear, and/or take with you, appropriate clothing and some rations.
  4. Take a map and make sure it's for the correct area! Adequate maps can be obtained (often free) from tourist information offices but commercial maps by companies like Editorial Alpina are worth investing in.
  5. If you have any doubts about continuing the walk once you've started, abort it. Either retrace your steps or, if possible, find a shorter route back to civilisation.
  6. Always take a Sense of Humour. You never know when you might need it!

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Coma Obaga, Ordino. 27-7-03

The group at the start of the Ensegur valley The dogs drinking from a stream Quico laying in stream

This was meant to be a relatively short walk but it still took 6 hours! Part of the problem was that some of the group had done parts of the route before but their memories of where they went and which bits were best avoided had become rather vague. So comments such as Oh it is this bit we should not have climbed were quite common. We had all walked in the Ensegur valley in the past so we were alright there.

The weather was bright, sunny and quite hot and the dogs, Billy and Quico, took advantage of a mountain stream to cool down especially Quico.

Apart from the slight problem mentioned above, the hike was enjoyable though the descent of the Coma Obaga was somewhat relentless.

Coma Obaga - Details.

Coma Obaga - The details.

Arans ( 1360 metres), Bordes de l'Ensegur (1860 metres), Arbesetar de Ferreroles ( 2450 metres), Coma Obaga ( 2325 metres), Arans ( 1360 metres).
Highest point:
2450 metres.
Total accumulated climb:
1090 metres.
Total time:
6 hours .
Weather conditions:
Sunny and very warm.
Enjoyment Factor:

Back to Menu | Back to Coma Obaga report.


Pic de les Planes, Arcalis 3-8-03

View of Arcalis ski area A large bird-of-prey circling above. Group setting off along Planes ridge.

None of the group had been to the Pic de les Planes before though some had made an aborted attempt up the sheer eastern face earlier in the year. This time it was decided to try the south side but in order to make it a round trip took us via the rather steep Comis Vell chute to the lake of Esbalçats instead of the direct path by which we eventually descended.

Anyway, the south face of les Planes proved to be very do-able, if a bit of a slog, and we were soon gazing down at the Arcalis ski area but if any of us were to get into dificulties there was an interested party ready to pick the bones. We decided to try along the crest to see if we could descend by the Port de l'Arbella but a rock slab which would have required ropes to cross prevented us. So we had to scramble down off the side of the crest which was dificult enough. The big bird might have had a meal after all.

Pic de les Planes - The details.

Pic de les Planes - The details.

Pont de Castellar ( 1850 metres/start and finish), Estany Esbalçats (2280 metres), Pic de les Planes ( 2760 metres).
Highest point:
2760 metres.
Total accumulated climb*:
980 metres.
Total time:
5 hours 39.
Weather conditions:
Mostly sunny with a few clouds. Fairly hot.
Enjoyment Factor:

* Hardly ever the same as the difference between the start and highest points.

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The la Massana ski lift saga (continued).

Some skiers

Work on the new Gondola lift from la Massana to Pal ski station starts and stops more often than a car in an M25 queue.

The anti-lift campaigners seem to have condensed to a handfull of people who live under the flight path (though not every one who does). Recently they went to court with a claim that the Council were acting outside their authority when they designated the works as being in the interest of the state which imbues it with some legal and technical advantages. The court threw the case out but whilst they were deliberating the work had to stop.

Another aspect of this saga is the fact that the people who will be living under the lift have to modify their roofs in order to prevent them catching fire and setting light to a gondola and, presumably, to protect them from falling objects at their own expense. Not unnaturally they are a bit miffed about this and are seeking compensation. The council have offered some but the ploy of the protesters is to demand an excessively high amount. This dispute with probably also end up in some tribunal or other.

Finally, the construction will most likely stop for most of this month as the workers go back to Portugal for their holidays.

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Avalanche Risk

The local avalanche bulletins have ceased for the season.

As the winter season has ended other links in the SKIING : sections may become inactive. I shall monitor the situation and remove any if and when I find out this has happened.

The CyberSpace Avalanche Center is still active. Visit it for information on other ski areas world-wide.

What is the Avalanche Risk Scale?

Conditions in the back country.

A little wet underfoot but not too bad for a good hike.

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The Avalanche Risk Scale.

This is a Europe-wide scale of 1 to 5 which tries to assess the probability of avalanches under certain conditions. Unlike the Beaufort Scale of wind speeds, for instance, which is a measurement, this scale is only a guide for off-pisters who should learn some snowcraft to help them in their on-the-ground risk assessment.

  1. FEEBLE: The snow, if any, is old and has settled into a stable condition and is unlikely to slip in any circumstance.
  2. MODERATE: Most slopes are safe. Some steep, wind affected areas may avalanche if provoked by the passage of a group of excursionists.
  3. MARKED: Small amounts of new snow yet to consolidate or old snow affected by higher temperatures. Slips may be started by groups.
  4. STRONG: Larger snowfalls de-stabilise the steeper slopes. Avalanches provoked by individuals or sometimes spontaneous on steeper pitches.
  5. VERY STRONG: After heavy falls or moderate falls immediately after a heavy frost. Spontaneous avalanches on any slope. Dangerous!

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Skiing Conditions

The alpine skiing season has ended. I shall keep the links active so you can see what they get up to during the summer.


Ski Area Websites

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Mission Statement: To create a web site accessible to 99.9% of surfers; easy to maintain; made from (X)HTML1.0,CSS (for layout) and JavaScript (for user interactivity) ONLY; low on bandwidth and to web standards.

A new design - why? (Part 1) 10-9-03

A nice, short question but, as is the case with most things in life, the answer is long and involved. There are 3 reasons for the change.

A la Carte

Ever since I decided on the scroll-less system for standards compliant browsers, I have had a big problem with the menu system. This stemmed from the fact that the Modern theme used scripts to hide and display absolutely positioned divisions which are, therefore, removed from the normal flow of the document. In a normally flowing document (for example, the Nineties theme) you use the link / anchor sytem to move around but this system would do unpredictable things in modern browsers. So I had to provide 2 mutually exclusive menus which meant redundant code, made updating much too error prone and looked messy when the document was viewed without style sheets.

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A new design - why? (Part 2) 10-9-03

Access code

Readers of previous chronicles will know of my previous skirmishes with accessibility standards. Well, the more I delve, the more I find out. It seems that whilst most users will use the default settings in their browser preferences, some will get in amongst them and change things, a few just because they can and the rest for genuine reasons. Different browsers allow different changes to be made. Some, for instance, will not allow you to turn style sheets off completely, others will. Most allow one to use a style sheet of ones own (Does anyone actually do that? I can only see it working at a very basic level which is mostly covered by the given preferences anyway.) and all of them allow you to disable scripts.

The point is that the above, along with browser bugs, produce... well... a bewildering number of combinations that a humble HTML document might meet and have to negociate without breaking. It was becoming clear that the old design was not quite up to it.

Free web hosting

When one is working with a tight budget and cannot justify expenditure on a paid hosting service one has to rely on the advertisement funded free hosts.

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A new design - why? (Part3) 10-9-03

Free web hosting (continued)

Naturally, they want to have these adverts displayed and there are 3 main methods of achieving it, inline frames, framesets or pop-up windows. I chose the latter because it left the main window clear and so simplified calculating the absolute positioning of divisions.In the past year or so there have been many utility programs and some browsers produced which block pop-up adverts. A couple of weeks ago, my hosting service introduced some new code which aims to circumvent this blocking. Nothing wrong with that, except with the, in my opinion, unprofessional way it has been implemented. Not only does the javascript code throw up errors in Internet Explorer but it somehow disabled the body onload function which is widely used to initialise objects et cetera for use in subsequent scripts. In my case, this meant that only the first page of my site would display and I received several complaints. Also, in some browsers, adverts appear at the top of the page obscuring some content. Fortunately, both these latter issues were easy to cope with but I would have liked to be told about the changes prior to them happening.

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A new design - why? (Part4) 10-9-03

The solution

(X)HTML + CSS site design is beginning to take off in the corporate world and now there are some good examples to learn from. My first attempts at web page making were based on the Netscape 4 browser which had lousy graphics handling and flaky support for floats so the use of the float property did not enter my repertoire but it seems to be the answer to my current plight.

Floating elements also alter the flow of a document but, unlike absolute positioning, the calculations are done by the browser so it manages the situation itself. This means that with some careful coding the link / anchor navigation system becomes predictable and usable in the same hypertext reference as the script calls and so 1 menu will serve both themes. Cracked it!

Because the browser is now back in control of the flow, many accessibility issues have also been solved. Font size changes do not cause sections to overlap, you can resize the window and the columns reflow to fit (though both these actions will probably compromise the scroll-less feature in the modern theme) and many, more obscure, technical issues are solved.

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A new design - why? (Part5) 10-8-03

The solution (continued)

The changes required by the new advert regime were fairly trivial. The call to the initialising script has moved out of the body onload function to the end of the document and a large banner division, which contains redundant information and so can safely be obscured by adverts, appears at the top of the window in browsers that require it.

Other changes

You might have noticed a slight change in the appearence of the site. I have tried to minimise the impact of the changes to the underlying code. It is now a 3 column affair with the above mentioned banner but it works exactly as before. One casualty of the re-design is the cinema. For some reason its inclusion causes Internet Explorer 5 for Mac to crash taking the operating system with it, something I usually associate with Netscape 7 / Mozilla. So no movies until I can work out how to re-incorporate it.


The web accessibility people claim that accessible code is better code and, credit where its due, they are right. The new design has much tighter code, hardly any redundancy and is more compliant to users who do not agree with my choice of font size or colour scheme. There are almost 2000 characters less in this document than last month's but there is more content, including this 5 page rant.

Back to Menu | Re-read this article | Back to Part 4.


The Statement

Provided you have QuickTime version 4 or greater installed in your computer you should be able to see videos of my activities in the 'cinema' (above left in most browsers). Sections that have movies associated with them are marked [Video Clips].

How to Use the Cinema: The cinema shows short video clips which are separate files in order to keep loading times down. The first file is the 3ld logo, move the play icon. The slider will move along its slot and when it comes to the end the next file is downloaded to the browser (to prevent this happening so you can watch a clip again, stop it before it ends). Each video is 'streamed' which means that you can start watching it while it loads providing enough of the file has already made the trip. (Watch the grey bar fill the slider's slot. As a rule, when it's half way across the clip is capable of being played.) When all the clips have been played you return to the logo and can start over. In order for the files to load you must stay on-line, of course.

I try to put the clips in a logical order.

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Navigating using the keyboard.

Whilst this design is generally amenable to keyboard navigation, there is, what I consider, a bug in Netscape 7 which means that some parts of the site cannot be reached. Until I find a technical work-round, if there is one which does not compromise other accessibility issues, I can only suggest that you do not use this browser if you have to use the keyboard. NOTE: Mozilla does not seem to support keyboard navigation at all.

Read about Themes.

If you think that this page isn't functioning properly, why not tell me about it.

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ISSUES - Continued

The object of the test, both for OS 9 and OS X, was to find out how freshly installed browsers display the document, i.e scripting and style sheets enabled.

Themes Defined

Window is divided into panes into which the content is placed as instructed by the user through the, almost always visible, menu which uses a script that manipulates the DOM. Little, if any, scrolling required.
A classic scrolling presentation with a menu that uses the named anchor system to aid site navigation. Some content used by Modern theme is hidden using style sheets.
Not a theme as such but a few browsers with poor standards support may lack a menu. If you turn scripting off, they will probably display as Nineties.

Back to Menu | Back to Issues.



This catalan site, part of the University of Barcelona's web presence, gives access to many resources, including the webcams page, for those of us around here interested in the weather. Two of the most useful I have singled out below.

Radar Images.

Radar images give an indication of where the precipitation is. Areas in green, for example, show light rainfall, areas in purple or white storms. From this page you can view animations of recent images. (Not always available)

Satellite Images.

Satellite images cover a wider area than the Radar does and are used to help predict short range weather. There are two common types:- Infra-Red, which shows up high and/or thick cloud and VISible, which shows low cloud and fog. This page also features animations. (Not always available)

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Casamanya in summer dress

WEATHER [ June to November]

It did not snow in August but it has this month. Just a few centimetres, but it is a start.


Number of consecutive months snow has fallen on Casamanya: 1. [Sept01]

The record series of 21 consecutive months in which snow has fallen on Casamanya has now been achieved twice (since I started counting).[Nov99-Jul01] and [Sept01-May03].

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