News from Sierra Nevada Guides

Latest news from the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Southern Spain

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Climb Trevenque, "The Matterhorn of the Sierra Nevada"

Trevenque 2079m.

Trevenque is not as high as some, but none the less is a very stylish, appealing and at times challenging mountain.  It's one of our favourites and goes down well with everyone. We often use it to get to know our clients and it is a good first peak for acclimatisation.The picture here is of the Limerick Mountaineering club on the first day of their holiday with us.

Sierra Nevada Mountain Guides are happy to work with groups as well as with individuals either leading you in the mountains or teaching you mountain skills.

Which Compass?

We have never stipulated which type of compass to bring along on one of our skills courses.  However recently a number of people have turned up with inappropriate compasses or even compasses that don’t work!

Compasses without “orienting” lines in the middle compass housing make taking a bearing difficult or impossible.  We have even come across an imitation of a Silva type 4 (without a brand name) that pointed south instead of north!

Compasses from reputable brands (Silva, Sunto, Recta, etc.) should do the job but for learning purposes a decent length of base plate and a range of measuring scales is helpful.

The compass that we would choose is the Silva Expedition 4 (but make sure it’s not the military model). Shopping around (Amazon) you can get one for less than £20 and unless you are like me and shut one in the car door they will last many years!

Sierra Nevada Mountain Guides run a range of mountain skills courses and offer training as part of our guiding service.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Climb Mulhacen

Mulhacen 3482m
Mulhacen with Alcazaba (to the left)
Climbing Mulhacen which at 3482m is the highest point in mainland Spain. This puts it high on the tick list of many visitors to the area and mountaineers from across Europe.  Although a fairly straightforward walk for competent mountaineers in summer, it is a different proposition in winter requiring a high degree of winter skills. 

There is a guide to climbing Mulhacen on The Sierra Nevada Guides website.

Mulhacen Summit
In the summer months the Sierra Nevada National Park operate a bus from the village of Capileira up to Mirador Trevelez 2700m from where it is possible to ascend Mulhacen's South Ridge. It is fair to say that probably most people use the bus though it is perfectly possible to make a good circuit there and back in a day from the "road head" at Hoya del Portillo above Capileira. 

Mulhacen's West Ridge from The Caldera Refuge
A good circuit is to ascend Mulhacen's South Ridge and descend its West Ridge to the Caldera Refuge. It is possible to return along the old road back to Mirador Trevelez, but if you have enough time descend the Rio Mulhacen and visit the Poqueira Refuge where drinks and snacks can be bought.  It is possible to complete a circuit back to Mirador Trevelez from here or back to Hoya del Portillo depending on your starting point.

The Poqueira Refuge
Another popular way is by spending a night at the Poqueira Refuge. An easy day to the refuge either along the acequia to Las Tomas then a steep pull up or more easily from Hoya del Portillo. Day two from the hut, follow the Rio Mulhacen to the Caldera Refuge then ascend Mulhacen's short but steep West Ridge, stopping to admire the views out across the North Face. Descent is down the easy angled South Ridge to Mirador Trevelez before taking the ridge (or dirt track road) back to Hoya del Portillo via the viewpoint at Puerto Molino.

Alpine Accentor at Mulhacen Summit
For those interested in wildlife, there is normally much to see, especially in summer.  We have been amazed at the butterflies around Mulhacen summit on many occasions. Alpine Swifts, Alpine Accentors, Choughs, Eagles and Vultures are common sights. It would be rare not to see one of the many "cabra de monte" which are Iberian Ibex.  They have become quite tame at the popular lunch spots and are frequent scroungers!

The flowers of the Sierra Nevada can be quite spectacular too. 
Estrella de las Nieves (star of the Snows) with Gentians
Early summer is the best time to see flowers as the winter snows retreat. Walking up Mulhacen from Hoya del Portillo takes you from below the tree line, through sub alpine and into alpine climatic areas.  Each has its own plant varieties, many of them endemic to the Sierra Nevada.
The wet areas known as "borreguiles" can be quite spectacular so if you are planning to make your ascent during the early summer (July), do consider taking in the Rio Mulhacen.

Information about the various routes up Mulhacen, maps, National Park bus, etc can all be found on the Sierra Nevada Guides website.

"Cabra de Monte" - The Iberian Ibex near the summit of Mulhacen

Mulhacen like any big mountain can be quite dangerous in poor weather and especially in winter conditions. Most days in the summer months it is usually a straightforward climb for experienced mountain walkers with the skills to navigate and look after themselves in the mountains. High winds are frequent and afternoon storms are a possibility even in summer.

Sierra Nevada Mountain Guides are always happy to advise visitors to the area or provide you with a qualified guide.

Sierra Nevada Mountain Guides - Mountain Skills Training

Sierra Nevada Mountain Guides run regular training courses designed to help people acquire the skills they need to enjoy the mountains safely. All of our team are qualified International Mountain Leaders with many years experience teaching and instructing mountain skills.  This Spring all of our popular navigation courses have "sold out" leading us to put on additional courses!

Whether you want to learn navigation, hill skills, scrambling, rock climbing, rope work, etc., then contact us first to discuss your needs and we can tailor courses to best suit you.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Jane and Mike of Sierra Nevada Guides produced the original script for "Walking for All" a guide aimed at helping outdoor instructors work with people who have a disability in the mountains. This new publication available from The British Mountaineering Council is complimentary to "Climbing for All" published three years ago.

Sierra Nevada Guides run training courses to help Mountain Leaders and outdoor instructors gain the skills to support people with disabilities in the mountains. Sierra Nevada Guides are committed to working with and supporting people with disabilities in the mountains. Check our website for further details.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Jane has successfully passed her IML winter assessment in The French Alps.  Sierra Nevada Guides now have 3 fully qualified International Mountain Leaders based in Lanjaron and working in Spain's Sierra Nevada Mountains.  The IML is a recognised qualification in Europe (including Spain) and allows you to take parties into the mountains world wide. To become an International Mountain Leader (IML) you must first be a British ML.  With enough overseas experience you can apply to register onto the IML training scheme. There are both summer and winter training courses followed by summer and winter assessments. Once qualified you have to keep up to date if you want to maintain your "carnet" to operate. Additionally an IML must have appropriate insurance and be qualified in remote or wilderness 1st aid.

Congratulations Jane!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Jane continues her preparation towards her IML winter assessment.  Despite a lack of firm snow, she can be seen here successfully demonstrating a sunken ice axe belay.  Sierra Nevada Guides operate a full range of mountain skills training based in Spain's Sierra Nevada mountains.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Mike and Jane from Sierra Nevada Guides are in the French Alps practising for Jane's (final) IML assessment. Daily temps have been around -15 degrees and as low as -22 degrees.  Despite the cold, conditions are excellent.  Here is a picture showing Mont Blanc with the Aig du Midi on the left.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Sierra Chaparrel- ridge walk

Just to the south of the Sierra Nevada is the Sierra Chaperrel, on a recent exporation an old mule track was 'rediscovered'. The constructed path hugs a spectacular ridge line with which runs at around 900m east from La Guindalera.