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Sunday, 22 June 2014

Climb Mulhacen!

Climb Mulhacen!

Looking at Mulhacen's North Face from the West Flank
Having made many ascents of Mulhacen over the past years, I can honestly say that I never grow tired of it.  Different seasons bring a range of  weather and alter conditions underfoot; different routes bring variations in gradients and technical difficulties; but most of all the enjoyment comes from the range of people that I guide and meet during the course of an ascent.

There are many different ways to climb Mulhacen and variations on each of them. These are described in our Guide to Climbing Mulhacen  which also describes the technical difficulties and the level of “mountain competence” required.

Basically (in summer) you can either climb Mulhacen as a day trip or as a 2 day trip by spending a night at The Refugio Poqueira. Our 3 favourite routes up Mulhacen are:

Day Trips

Stunning flowers on the way up!
1.     If you have a car available, book yourself onto the National Park Bus that leaves Capileira at 8.30am. On the morning of your ascent, turn up early and make sure that the National Park staff and bus driver know that you will drive up to the “barrier” at Hoya del Portillo where you leave your car and get on the bus.

The bus takes you to Alto del Chorrillo at 2700m. From here it is an easy 2 hour climb to the summit of Mulhacen by the South Ridge. From the summit make your way down the West Flank to the Caldera Refuge (taking a look over the impressive North Faces of Mulhacen and Alcazaba) then down the Rio Mulhacen to the Refugio Poqueira (drinks and toilets).

Iberian Ibex "Cabra" by the Caldera Refuge
From the Refugio Poqueira take the road, initially up hill to join the gentally descending path that leads back to Hoya del Portillo.

2.     From Hoya del Portillo 2100m, walk up through the forest to the viewpoint at Puerto Molino. Take the path that ascends up above the road and follow a broad ridge before joining a road that takes you to Alto del Chorrillo 2700m. Here the path leads up Mulhacen’s South Ridge. Allow 5 hours for the ascent.

To make a bit of a circuit, descend by the West Flank to the old road which can be followed back to Puerto Molino (or pick up the route along the ridge that you ascended above Puerto Molino). Allow 9 hours for the round trip.

2 Day trip

Flamenco on the summit!
3.     Day 1. Starting from Capileira, ascend to the Refugio Poqueira via La Cebadilla and Cortijo Las Tomas. Allow around 5 hours for the ascent. This is a beautiful way into the mountains, especially in June when the flowers are magnificent.

Day 2. Ascend the rio Mulhacen. After around half an hour cross the river to the west side and ascend past lagoons to the Caldera Refuge. From the Caldera take the path that ascends taking you to “glimpse” over the North Faces of Alcazaba and Mulhacen. Rejoin the cairned path to the summit. (3 to 4 hours).

Descend down the south ridge to near Alto del Chorrillo and follow the road for a short distance, take the “short cut” via a huge obvious cairn that cuts out a loop in the road which is re-joined to the Refugio Poqueira.

Mulhacen II (the lower summit) from Puerto Molina
Re-trace your route back to Capileira.

Although we are describing these routes, the level of difficulty varies according to conditions underfoot (e.g. snow), your level of fitness and especially the weather.  It is perfectly possible for the mountains to be shrouded in mist, even during the summer which makes navigation difficult.  High winds can also be a problem in summer.

There is lots of useful information to help you plan your trip to The Sierra Nevada on the Sierra Nevada Guides Website.

Sierra Nevada Guides are always happy to advise on conditions but if you are in any doubt, please hire a guide!

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