News from Sierra Nevada Guides

Latest news from the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Southern Spain

Friday, 9 November 2012

Flowers of Spain's Sierra Nevada Mountains

Flowers of the Sierra Nevada

Although I’m no expert on flowers, my work as a guide in Spain’s Sierra Nevada brings me close to nature.  The flowers of the Sierra Nevada are amazingly diverse as the National and Natural parks span a wide altitude difference with climatic zones from Mediterranean to Alpine.  Also different parts of the Sierra have different geology that also adds to the diverse spread of species.

Trumpet Gentian (Gentiana acaulis) with Plantago Nivalis - The Star of the Snows
Sierra Nevada Violet, Viola Crassiuscula 
There are many species and sub-species that are endemic to the Sierra Nevada, including:
Chaenorrhinum Glareosum     Blue Dreams                                     
Erigeron Frigidus                    Cold Fleabane                        
Artemisia Granatensis             Mountain Camomile                        
Arenaria Nevadensis
Viola Crassiuscula                  The Sierra Nevada Violet                                   
Saxifrage Nevadensis
Pinguicula Nevadensis            Thin Spurred Butterwort
Gentiana Boryi
Gentiana Sierrae
Plantago Nivalis                      The Star of the Snows

Additionally there are many species common to other areas too.
hormathophylla spinosa known locally as "rascaculos"

I have two favourite areas for spotting plants:

Gentiana Sierae, endemic to the borreguiles
The “borreguiles” which are areas of wet pastures besides streams and small lakes  at around 2700m to 3000m (typically Siete Lagunas).

Here you will find various gentians and the amazing Star of the Snows which is a woolly plantain.

Ranunculus acetosellifolius, endemic to the Sierra Nevada
The high boulder and scree fields at around 3000m to 3400m (typically Alcazaba)

This is where you will find Blue Dreams, The Sierra Nevada Violet and the Cold Fleabane.

Thin Spurred Butterwort, Pinguicula Nevadensis endemic

There is no doubt that the best time to come and see the alpine flowers is early July.  This is when the snow has mostly melted and there is plenty of moisture coupled with the warm long days. There are some nice spots accessible from the Poqueira Refuge, the Rio Seco, Rio Mulhacen and Siete Laguna’s.  The Rio Mulhacen and Siete Laguna’s are possible as a day trip using the National Park bus from Capileira. (details from Sierra Nevada Guides website).

St Bruno's Lilly, Paradisia liliastrum (not endemic) 
If you are venturing into the high mountains to see the stunning wild flowers, remember that these are serious mountains. It is likely that there will still be snow patches to cross in July and as in all mountain environments the weather can prove problematic with frequent high (cold) winds, mist and the occasional storm.

Three Peaks Challenge – in The Sierra Nevada

Three Peaks Challenge – in The Sierra Nevada

Following on from the success of earlier challenges, Mountain House is now offering fund raising groups the opportunity of an even bigger and better Three Peaks Challenge.  The Sierra Nevada boasts the highest mountain in mainland Spain, Mulhacen 3482m which together with Alcazaba 3371m and Veleta 3394m provides the perfect format for a Three Peaks Challenge.
Charity Challenge on the Summit of Mulhacen, Sierra Nevada Spain
Success on the summit of Mulhacen
There are various ways of undertaking this, a fit team could undertake the challenge spending just 2 nights in Spain, arriving on an early flight day 1 and departing on a late flight day 3. However to ensure complete success, detailed below is a possible itinerary for fit challengers. For a more leisurely approach you can add a second night at the Poqueira Refuge before tackling Mulhacen and Alcazaba.

Day 1. 
We meet you at Malaga Airport and take you to Hoya de la Mora where you spend the night at the University Albergue 2500m above sea leval.

Day 2.
Mulhacen, from Veletta, Sierra Nevada Mountains Spain
Mulhacen and Alcazaba from Velet
Departing at 8am on the National Park bus to “Posiciones del Veleta” at 3000m we now begin The Three Peaks Challenge.  It is about an hour to the summit of Veleta and a further 40 minutes in descent to the Carihuela Refuge 3200m.

From Carihuela to the Caldera Refuge 3020m although only 6Km along an old dirt track road will take 2.5 hours.  The effects of altitude and sun will prevent most people from completing this section particularly fast.

A hard hour of ascent from The Caldera will see you on top of Mulhacen.

Descent from Mulhacen to Siete Laguna’s (2800m) is a punishing hour where if your boots are too small your toes will hurt!
Mulhacen from Alcazaba
If you are “fresh” then the circuit from Siete Laguna’s to Alcazaba and back normally takes three hours.  However at this stage of the challenge it is likely to take 4 hours.

Starting to slow even more our way out from Siete Laguna’s to the Poqueira Refuge 2500m where we spend the night will take around 3 hours.

In total 12 to 14 hours.  A long hard day completing your Three Peaks Challenge.

Day 3.
We leave the hut around 9.30am and walk out to the road head (3 hours) where transport awaits to take us to the Spa town of Lanjaron where we enjoy the chance to recover!

Day 4.
We return you to Malaga Airport for your flight home.

Why choose Mountain House?
There are several good reasons to choose Mountain House to support your challenge.

Mountain House operate in Spain as “Sierra Nevada Guides” who are the only company of qualified British International Mountain Leaders operating in the Sierra Nevada and Alpujarra. 

Mountain House has the appropriate liability insurance for taking people into the mountains.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Sierra Nevadas mountain goats

Last week I went with a few friends and again climbed Travenque a superb mountain east of Granada. After a steep ascent the final few meters offer a short scramble to a truly dramatic summit. The view east to Valetta, Caballo and the ski resort is one of the best in the range.

As often happens during a trip in these mountains during the walk we spotted a small herd of ‘’cabra de montana’’. Many of you will have seen herds of these ‘’mountain goats’’, normally running away into the distance. For those who haven’t these truly wild animals are about the size of a fallow deer, they are a tan colour with darker shoulders and haunches with the larger older animals having a pair large sweeping horns. Well suited to the mountain terrain where they are generally found they have short muscular legs and large soft hooves which are perfect for gripping steep rock faces. Generally browsers they live in areas of mixed scrub and broken ground in the lower mountains but I have seen them at 3,000m near the Caldera refuge on Mulhacen, on the edge of Lanjaron and also on the coast near Cerro Gordo. Often the only sign you have that they are in the area are large amounts of droppings on summits though you will often hear a sharp high pitched call as outlying individuals warn a larger group that you are approaching.

The groups you see will either be made up of females with their young or males. The two groups do not generally mix apart from the breeding season in autumn. This is also the time when males fight for dominance of a herd with head butting contests.

My first sighting of ‘’cabra’’ was about 10 years ago whilst descending the south ridge of Mulhacen. Needless to say seeing one of these animals for the first time was quite a shock particularly as it was quite a large male with a fantastic pair of horns. I have become accustomed to looking out for them but even so it’s often not until they move that I spot them as they are well camouflaged and blend into the backgrounds remarkably well.

Whilst often called mountain goats these animals are actually a type of Ibex, Capra pyrenacia . At one time there were a total of four subspecies. One, a Portugese subspecies, died out in 1892. Shockingly the other, Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica, became extinct on the 6th January 2000. A remarkably specific date. However this was when the last known specimen of a subspecies peculiar to the Pyrenees died. A frightening example of how easily we can loose unique animals. The two remaining subspecies however seem to be doing well and at the moment at least appear to be growing in numbers with an estimated population across the Iberian Peninsula of about 50,000.

Next time you’re out in the mountains take time out to try to spot these remarkable animals.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Wilderness First Aid

Wilderness First Aid Course

Martin as a casualty
This week, Martin, Jane and Mike from Sierra Nevada Guides attended their refresher 1st Aid course. Because of the nature of our work where rescue is problematic and ambulances can’t just be summoned, a “wilderness” first aid course was decided on. The course not only concentrated on first aid but also how to support casualties for several days. The course run by Nicola Pickering of High Peak First Aid in the Peak District lasted for two days and was assessed throughout. There were many practical scenarios held outside using realistic casualties made up with all sorts of fake blood and injuries.

A "realistic" injury to treat

At this point we should highlight that Sierra Nevada Guides have never had any clients who have either needed rescue or medical treatment.  However the possession of up to date first aid knowledge is something we take very seriously. Over the past few years there have been changes in good first aid practice and a range of better wound dressings and other equipment available on the market.

As International Mountain Leaders, we are not allowed to operate without a current first aid qualification. Additionally we have to keep our skills up to date by attending further certified (CPD) training which is monitored by our Association, The British Association of International Mountain Leaders (BAIML) every 3 years. We also need to demonstrate valid insurance on an annual basis.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Walking in the Sierra Nevada

Walking in the Sierra Nevada

Spain’s Sierra Nevada is a great destination for mountain walking on account of it’s settled (summer) weather and non technical mountains that don’t require the use of alpine techniques and climbing equipment.  All of the main peaks can be reached by competent mountain walkers. The high peaks start to become accessible from the end of June when the snow melts through until October.  Even in the height of the Spanish summer it is relatively cool above 2500m and you can expect temps of 15 to 20 degrees on the summits if it is not too windy.

Although there are some 26 named peaks over 3000m, there is one especially nice peak, Trevenque 2079m that should not be missed off anyone’s itinerary. Trevenque is a shapely mountain, sometimes referred to as the Matterhorn of the Sierra’s.  Although it may be too hot to climb from mid July until the end of August because of its lower altitude, never the less it proves to be a good warm-up or acclimatisation for its higher neighbours.

Mulhacen Summit
Most people visiting the area want to tick off Mulhacen 3482m which is the highest mountain in mainland Spain. In summer this is a fairly straight forward peak, especially if catching one of the National Park busses from either Capileira to the south or Hoya da la Mora to the west. Details of these busses can be found on the Sierra Nevada Guides website.  Possibly the best circuit is to book the bus from Capileira but drive up to and catch the bus as it passes “the barrier” at Hoya del Portillo. The bus takes you to Mirador Trevelez 2680m from where it is a 2 hour walk up Mulhacen’s south ridge to the summit. Descend the west ridge  to the Caldera Refuge getting views of Mulhacen’s north face, then follow the valley down to the Poqueira Refuge where you can buy a beer before setting off again to Hoya del Portillo.  Approx 7 hours from getting off the bus at Mirador Trevelez.

Flowers at Siete Lagunas, Gentians and "Star of the Snows"
The big 3 of the Sierra Nevada are Mulhacen 3482m, Veleta 3394m and Alcazaba 3371m. Of these the most difficult but most rewarding day is to ascend Alcazaba. The easiest way to get to Alcazaba is to take the bus up from Capileira to Mirador Trevelez.  Follow the path as for Mulhacen to where a path heads off towards Siete Lagunas at approx 3000m (not obvious). From Siete Lagunas it is possible to make a circuit on Alcazaba, ascending a ridge towards Penon del Globo but traversing northwards at around 3150m towards Meseta de las Borregas and onto a ridge that ascends Alcazaba from the south east. Descent to the top of the Siete Lagunas by an improbable path through cliffs and screes and wander down past all 7 lagoons, especially nice with the abundant alpine flowers. From Laguna Hondera follow the same route back to Miradoor Trevelez.  7.5 hours. It is possible to ascend to Siete Laguna’s from the village of Trevelz 1475m but this is a very long day.

Ascending the ridge to Cerro del Caballo
A personal favourite of ours is the Cerro del 
Caballo 3005m. This is Europe’s most westerly 3000m peak. Although there are several ways of ascending Caballo, our favourite circuit is from the Ventura road head about an hours drive up a rough dirt track from Lanjaron or Lecrin. From the parking spot at the end of the road take the obvious path the leads up to the old ruined Ventura Refuge (20 minutes). Continue up the path for a short distance, it now heads up steeply to cross and acequia channel and continues in gentle ascent crossing 2 streams to the start of a pine forest. Follow the fire break upwards at the side of the forest to its high point and take a diagonal line up to the ridge above you. The ridge is followed more or less to the summit of Caballo. From the summit you can peer down to the north east and see the Caballo Refuge beside a laguna. In descent head north west to a col above the refuge and follow scree (some times snow in early summer) and descend to the refuge. From the Refuge a faint path heads down hill, north east past a lagoon. We normally take a line north eastwards down to the Rio Lanjaron by a prominent waterfall before picking up a path that heads south west along the rio for approx 3 Kms to a dam. Leave the Rio to the right (west side of the dam) ascending for 50m before descending to pick up the acequia which is followed back towards Ventura. 7 hrs.

Caballo from the Upper Rio Lanjaron
Like all mountain areas, the Sierra Nevada can be serious and has claimed several lives in recent years (four of them British). The above descriptions are intended as an outline and you will need to be competent, especially at navigation to undertake them.  In summer, the most likely hazard you’ll face is intense sun, dehydration and a little breathlessness due to the altitude.  However there have been several occasions in summer when we have retreated due to high winds. Keep an eye on the weather too.  It is not unknown for afternoon storms to build up around the higher peaks.

There is plenty of information about the area (maps, weather, places to stay, etc.) on the Sierra Nevada Guides website and we are always happy to advise you on routes and conditions.

If in doubt about your ability or you would like a skills refresher, hire a qualified guide from Sierra Nevada Guides.

Walking in The Alpujarra

Walking in the Alpujarras

Having walked extensively throughout the U.K., Europe and in Morocco, I can honestly say that walking in Spain’s Alpujarra is up there with the best! To just say that there are pretty villages and scenic valleys would not do the area justice.

Busquistar and the Taha Gorge
The walking often begins from one of the many whitewashed villages first established by the Berber’s of North Africa when Spain was ruled by Arab kings. The architecture of these villages being identical to the villages of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. Flat roofs and distinct decorative chimneys make an amazing sight when wandering down the steep narrow streets of the villages that often seem to cling to the hillside.

Paths take you through cultivated terraces often with almonds and olives down into rocky valleys with rivers flowing (although some are dry in the summer months). The paths are often lined with wild flowers during the spring and early summer and occasionally with wild tomato hedges and mulberries later in the year.  As you walk along it is not uncommon to pass the local goatherd walking his goats foraging for food and browsing the bushes either side of the path. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself to remember this really is the 21st Centaury!

Iberian Ibex "Cabra de Monte"
Keep an eye out for the wildlife as you walk. Eagles and vultures are common but there may well be decorative hoopoes and bee-eaters as well as a host of other birds.  You will hear scuttling noises revealing that a gecko is getting out of your way or you might just happen upon one! Cabra de Monte (Iberian Ibex) is common in the more remote parts of the valleys.

A unique feature of the area are the acequia’s, water channels that transport water from the steams and distribute it to the hill farms around the hillsides. Although it was the Romans who first introduced them to this area, the present system of acequia’s date back to the time when the Arabs ruled Spain. Most of the acequia’s have narrow paths running beside them which make for great walking and the presence of water attracts many wild flowers.  Some acequia’s are lined with ancient chestnut trees.

Walking beside an Acequia
It is possible to walk in the Alpujarra throughout the year with the exception of the summer months. The Alpujarra gets very hot in summer and too hot for most people to enjoy walking.  In July and August it is possible to walk high up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains where the temperatures are cool, 15 to 25 degrees depending on height and wind strength.  Walking in the winter months in the Alpujarra is usually o.k. and if the sun is out you might even be wearing shorts and tee shirt in February! If staying in one of the higher villages it is not uncommon for 2 or 3 days snow a couple of times each winter.

We are based near Lanjaron which is a good for access to the whole Sierra Nevada Mountain range.  If I was looking for a base in the Alpujarra for a walking holiday I would consider one of the especially pretty villages of Capileira, Bubion or Pampaneira. A lot of walkers stay in Capileira and there is usually some kindred spirit to strike up conversation with in a bar.  There is also the National Park Information office here. 

A car is useful in this area though using public transport is possible as there is reasonable public transport. Details of the bus company and time table in English can be found on the Sierra Nevada Guides website.

Alpujarran Chimneys
The area’s popularity has been increased by Chris Stewarts book, Driving over Lemons which paints an honest picture of what it’s like living in the area. A good read in its own right but you may enjoy your visit more after reading this.

There are some suggestions as to suitable walks on the Sierra Nevada Guides website with free downloads, these confine themselves to the western Alpujarra, Lecrin Valley and western Sierra Nevada. A useful walking book is Holiday Walks in the Alpujarra by Jeremy Rabjohns. Maps can be bought in the U.K. from Stanford’s and we recommend Sierra Nevada, La Alpujarra 1:40 000. Maps are flimsy and you might like to cover them in sticky back plastic before leaving the U.K.

Sierra Nevada Guides are the only company of qualified British Guides based in the area.  We are happy to advise you on route choice or guide you on a more challenging itinerary.
Spring in the Alpujarra

Monday, 15 October 2012

GR240 The Sendero Sulayr

GR 240
The Sendero Sulayr or The “Mountain of the Sun” long distance path.

The Sendero Sulayr is Spain’s longest circular long distance path. This 300 Km long path makes a circuit of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and if completing the whole circuit has an ascent of 9800m! Although being a circuit it doesn’t matter where you start, its official start is from the National Park Information Centre at El Dornajo on the road from Granada towards the Sierra Nevada ski resort.  The path is mainly at heights of between 1800m and 2200m though occasionally higher (up to 2460m) and lower.

The Sierra Nevada was Spain’s first national park and is its largest.  The highest mountain in mainland Spain, Mulhacen 3482m is here as is Cerro del Caballo 3005m being Europe’s most westerly 3000m peak. Given the right conditions it is perfectly possible to include these two mountains in your Sulayr itinerary and is worth considering.

The regional Government of Andalucia (The Junta de Andalucia) and the Sierra Nevada National Park authority opened this path in 2007. Officially it has 19 stages, starting and ending at El Dornajo though the stages seem to end in arbitary places in the middle of nowhere! It is possible to combine some of the stages so as to complete the circuit in 15 days, especially if you are supported and not having to carry heavy packs. Because the route only passes through 2 villages, carrying and / or obtaining food is a problem, so for most people, detours will have to be made and the walk unsupported it is likely to take around 21 days making it a huge undertaking. Fortunately Sierra Nevada Guides operate a support service so with travel to and from the U.K. the route is possible in 17 days.

Guidebooks and Maps for The Sendero Sulayr – GR40
Trevenque, day2
Editorial Penibetica have produced a guidebook to the route “Sendero Sulayr” in English, which is available from Stanfords at £29.95.  This guide contains all the maps and information you require for completing the route.  It doesn’t map enough to allow you to ascend either Caballo or Mulhacen.  Caballo can be included as a variation to day 3, though if wishing to include Mulhacen, you will need an additional day.  Think also about including a rest day or two into your itinerary, especially if doing it unsupported.  You can use rest days to get down to villages for supplies of food. (remember most shops in Spain do not open on Sundays and that there are lots of “local” bank holidays).

                        Distance            Height Gain            Time
Stage 1            14.7 Km            850m                      3hrs  50mins

Stage 2            19.4 Km            1042m                    5hrs  30mins

Stage 3            14.5 Km            10m                        4hrs  30mins

Stage 4            8.7 Km              330m                      3 hours

Stage 5            10.5 Km            298m                        4 hours

Stage 6            17.4 Km            916m                        5 hrs  15mins

Stage 7            24.9 Km            974m                        7 hours

Stage 8            16.5 Km            344m                        5hrs  30mins

Stage 9            20.6 Km            325m                        5hrs  45mins

Stage 10            15.2 Km          535m                        5hrs  30mins

Stage 11            20.7 Km          932m                        7hrs  30mins

Stage 12            16.9 Km          188m                        5 hours

Stage 13            11.2 Km          716m                        4 hours

Stage 14            19.2 Km          467m                        5hrs  30mins

Stage 15            10.2 Km          141m                        3hrs  30mins

Stage 16            21.4 Km           566m                        7 hours

Stage 17            16 Km              664m                        5hrs  15mins

Stage 18            14.5 Km            90m                         5 hours

Stage 19            7.1 Km              438m                       2hrs  30mins

When to do The Sendero Sulayr – GR40
Picking Cherries near Trevelez
Because parts of this route are at an altitude where snow lies during the winter, then the only months that are completely free of snow are likely to be May to October. That said, it is perfectly possible to do the route some years in April and November / early December (it all depends on the amount of snow which has fallen over the winter months).  Forget August, it is too hot!

Because you will need to stay at the Postero Alto Refuge, which is open only at weekends or every day from 1st July to 15th September, then July is the obvious choice unless you can plan to arrive at a weekend! Otherwise you'll have to camp outside.

Accommodation on The Sendero Sulayr – GR40
The Sulayr is not a walk with regular accommodation, mountain huts or campsites. To do the walk unsupported you will have to be prepared to wild camp and “rough it” though a tarp would be sufficient in most cases. Even with support, there are at least 2 nights where due to remoteness you would have to stay in Refuges, 1 staffed (at weekends) the other just a stone shelter.  Careful planning is the key to this walk.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Climbing Mulhacen in Autumn and Early Winter

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.

Mulhacen Summit
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.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Snow arrives in The Sierra Nevada!

The first autumn storm bringing snow has arrived today in The Sierra Nevada with snow lying at 2600m on the northern slopes. We use the webcams at: the Sierra Nevada Ski resort and the 
Poqueira Refuge to glimpse into the mountains. Today, both of these are showing snow!
Near the summit of Cerro del Caballo 3011m, Europe's most westerly 3000m peak.
Although the snow from these early storms does not normally stay very long it’s time to start thinking about winter conditions and being prepared, carrying clothing and equipment to be safe in winter conditions.  Remember too that the days are drawing in and it’s getting dark earlier.

Autumn storms are not all bad!  The rain and snow bring much needed water to replenish the springs that many hill farmers depend on. Our own "mountain cortio" situated at 1300m relies on two natural springs for its water supply, one of which has dried up during the summer.

Looking towards Mulhacen from Puerto Molina
Winter in the Sierra Nevada brings a whole new dimension  to the walking and mountaineering. It’s all well and good having the right equipment, but good navigation skills are essential as is a knowledge of the weather and how to look after yourself. The British Mountain Council have a booklet that can be downloaded free of charge that contains some useful information for hill walkers.  They also have a good video called “winter skills” that’s worth viewing and is good revision too, even for seasoned winter mountaineers.

Of course it’s worth considering skills from qualified professionals.

Sun and blue skies, snowshoeing in the upper Rio Lanjaron
If you want to brush up on your navigation and mountain skills, a day with us in the mountains starts from 30 Euro’s to 70 Euro's depending on numbers.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Sandra’s Last Munro

Sandra’s Last Munro
Sandra is a regular visitor to The Sierra Nevada and last year managed The Integral, (a traverse of all the 3000m peaks in the Sierra Nevada), accompanied by Sierra Nevada Guides.

Sierra Nevada Guides were invited to accompany Sandra on her final Munro, Driesh 947m near Glen Doll in Scotland.

Around 30 of us accompanied Sandra to the summit in deteriorating weather where celebration drinks, cava and a range of single malt whiskies, were consumed before descending and retreating to the pub for “stovies” and more drink.

Congratulations Sandra on completing your Munro’s!

A Munro is a Scottish mountain with a height of 914m or higher. There are 283 Munro’s listed in the SMC guide though there is the odd dispute over a couple of peaks.

After experiencing the Scottish summer weather and the infamous midge, we now remain convinced that Spain's Sierra Nevada is the place to be!

It should be noted that Mike and Jane of Sierra Nevada Guides have a house at 1300m above sea levelhigher than most Munro's.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Rock Climbing in and around The Sierra Nevada (Granada)

Rock Climbing in and around The Sierra Nevada (Granada)

Although some of the “bigger” climbing venues are documented in David Munilla’s rock climbing guide to Andalucia some are only partly described whilst some of the smaller venues not described at all. The Sierra Nevada contains mainland Spain’s highest mountain (Mulhacen 3482m) and the area around it some fine rock climbing too.  

Venues include:
Alfacar, Capileira, Lagos, Diezma, Lanjaron, Monachil, Motril, Motril (los Vados), Niguelas, Orgiva and Pinos del Valle.

Further information including some free downloads are available from the Sierra Nevada Guides website

Climbing at Niguelas

Sierra Nevada Guides are qualified to introduce you to rock climbing providing “taster” sessions and tuition on the various cliffs in the Sierra Nevada and surrounding area. The area has something for everyone from gentle easy angled climbs for the novice to steep and overhanging climbs for the expert.

If you are planning a climbing trip to the area we will be happy to answer any questions you may have and help or advise on hiring accommodation.

Sierra Nevada Guides are a company of International Mountain Leaders and climbing instructors based in Spain's Sierra Nevada.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Autumn in the Sierra Nevada and Alpujarra

Autumn in the Sierra Nevada and Alpujarra
The autumn is a great time to visit as the heat from summer starts to fade and walking and climbing at lower altitudes becomes possible again. Although there will be occasional rainy days, any moisture brings life back to the plants and a second growing season begins.

Walking in The Taha - December
Any rain in the valleys is likely to bring a dusting of snow on the high peaks, though this will melt quickly as snow tends not to lie before November.  Water will be flowing again in the acequias  (water channels) which are often lined with chestnut trees who’s leaves turn to gold then brown as autumn progresses.

This is a great time to visit for a walking holiday.  Low season hotel prices coupled with mainly settled weather that will seem like summer to anyone from Britain.  Walking in the Alpujarra (hill walking) and Sierra Nevada (mountain walking) is as good as it gets with some truly memorable days to be had.

Some of our favourite walks  include:
A circuit in the Taha from Busquistar:
A circuit to the Poqueira Refuge for lunch;  and
An ascent of the Cerro del Caballo which at 3011m is Europe’s most westerly 3000m peak.

Trevenque in October
An ascent of Mulhacen (mainland Spain's highest mountain 3482m) is a must for serious walkers and mountaineers and we have a range of itineraries listed on our website, whether you need a guide or not.

To make the most of your visit, check out our website where you’ll find all sorts of useful information and suggested itineraries.  If you have a question about the area that isn’t answered on our website do get in touch, we are always happy to advise.

Like all mountains, these can be serious too.  Only venture into the hills if you have the right skills.  You can always hire a guide from Sierra Nevada Guides.

Sierra Nevada Guides are a company of qualified International Mountain Leaders.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

A Dodgy Compass!

A Dodgy Compass!
Sierra Nevada Guides run skills courses in Spain's Sierra Nevada teaching how to operate safely in the mountains.  This includes navigation where we believe the ability to use a map and compass vital as a foundation. Recently we had a student turn up with an imitation of a Silva compass that instead of pointing north actually pointed south!

The red needle always points north!
If you want to learn the skills essential for safe mountaineering book onto one of our scheduled courses or contact us as we often provide 1:1 tuition. 

Sierra Nevada Guides are a company of qualified International Mountain Leaders operating in Spain’s Sierra Nevada Mountains and Alpujarra.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Scrambling, Kinder Scout

Back in The U.K. for a few weeks and thought we'd take the opportunity to do some new scrambles in The Peak District.

Ascended Kinder via the scramble up Crowden Brook then crossed to the "western edge" and descended to Red Brook which we then scrambled.

Sierra Nevada Guides provide scrambling and walking holidays in Spain's Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Scrambling in The Sierra Nevada

Scrambles in The Sierra Nevada
The Sierra Nevada contains Mulhacen 3482m which is the highest mountain in mainland Spain. For many years now, British climbers have been visiting Spain for it’s great rock climbing and to get away from the damp U.K. in search of warm dry rock. What is generally not considered is the possibilities for scrambling and mountaineering in the (mainly) dry sunny Sierra Nevada. For the past 10 years, Sierra Nevada Guides have been developing a range of scrambles and challenging walks to satisfy anyone interested in getting away from Britain’s cold damp mountains.

The video clip here shows some of the endless possibilities: