Summer has now departed in the Sierra Nevada and the first snows of autumn have already fallen. Snow in September and October rarely stays very long, often melting overnight. This short article is intended to give some pointers about how to tackle Mulhacen in normal Autumn conditions i.e. before there is a build up of permanent snow on the west ridge and face.
The normal way to tackle Mulhacen in a day is by catching the National Park bus from Capileira up past the “barrier” at Hoya del Portillo and up to Mirrador Trevelez 2800m. This bus usually ceases to run in October (check with the information office in Capileira for the latest bus schedule), but it is possible to drive up to the road head at Hoya del Portillo. If the road up to Hoya is blocked by snow, then don’t contemplate climbing Mulhacen in a day.
Mulhacen in a day from Hoya del Portillo
4 to 5 hours in ascent from 2100m to 3482m.
Before any ascent of Mulhacen you should ascertain the actual conditions on the mountain and look at the weather forecast. The hut guardian of the Poqueira Refuge posts weekly updates as to conditions on the mountain throughout the winter months.
Take note of the wind strength as high winds can make progress slow and even lead to having to retreat.
From Hoya del Portillo, take a path that leads from behind the guards hut, up through the forest to join the firebreak just beneath the viewpoint of Puerto Molino.
|At Puerto Molino looking towards Mulhacen|
From Puerto Molino to Mirador Trevelez, the nicest way is to take the small path leading up to the ridge passing the minor summit of Prado Llano 2577m, eventually joining the dirt track road prior to reaching Mirrador Trevelez (where the summer bus stops). Alternatively you may follow the dirt track road from Puerto Molino.
Continue along the dirt track road for a further 600m until you reach a junction. Left leads towards the Poqueira Refuge. Here we leave the dirt track road which continues to the Caldera Refuge and take a path on the right which leads up the south ridge of Mulhacen.
As you ascend you are looking at the lower summit of Mulhacen 3361m with a trig point on top. The actual summit is around 20 minutes beyond.
If there is snow lying, the safest descent is by returning back down the south ridge.
If there is no snow then the path down the west face to near the Caldera is an option. This leads back to the dirt track road which can be followed back towards Mirrador Trevelez.
Never underestimate Mulhacen. Just because it is a “walk” in summer conditions, in deteriorating weather, snow and ice, navigation can be difficult and the going underfoot treacherous. Always go properly equipped for the conditions. Remember the days are getting shorter and take a torch. If you are uncertain, contact us and discuss the possibility of hiring a qualified International Mountain Leader.