Sunday, 20 July 2014
Tajos de la Virgen ridge, Sierra Nevada.
In order to avoid the summer heat in July we decided to take advantage of the cable car that runs from the Sierra Nevada ski village up to about 2,800m on the slopes of Veleta. During the summer months this is a great way to get up into the cooler air of the mountains without to much effort , though it does dent the wallet a bit. What’s new this year is that the gondola and chair lifts are now very popular with mountain bikers who can get a day pass which allows them to take advantage of a new network of down hill mountain bike routes created on the slopes of the mountain. We headed from the top of the chair lift and crossed steep scree toward the Carahuela refuge perched at 3,000m to the south of the Veleta summit. The refuge sits in a col with magnificent views east to Mulhacen and Alcazaba and marks the point where the old road from Granada to Capileira crosses into the high mountains. We headed south from the refuge onto the Tajos de La Virgen ridge. This is perhaps one of the best ridge walk in the area and at the north end even includes a short ‘scramble’ up on to its crest. Whilst easy enough this section is quite exposed and needs a steady head. Once on the ridge it is slightly easier walking until you reach a rock needle known at la Fraile (the friar). Heading south from this pinnacle the route crosses an area of large blocks which whilst solid enough are perhaps the trickiest section of the route. The ridge eventually reaches the Eliorreta refuge built into the ridge itself and once used isolating TB patients. On the slopes below the refuge is an obvious square area cleared of some of the larger rocks. As there where two park rangers at the refuge I was finally able to confirm with them that the area was cleared to create a helicopter landing zone on the mountain side. The return from the refuge follows a well constructed path which was once used to transport patients up on mule back to start their recovery. This mountain path is a delight as it passing below dramatic cliffs and crossing through an area of small lagunas. Rather than re ascend to the top of the chair lift we decided to head down to pick up the gondola back down to the village and a bar.