News from Sierra Nevada Guides

Latest news from the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Southern Spain

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.

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