In December 2002 I packed my pickup truck with my worldly possessions, my black labrador dog (Rocky - the original El Perro Negro) and headed south. I never looked back. The first place I arrived at was Lanjaron in the Alpujarras and funnily enough, I’m still here. I love the people, the culture, the tradition, the history, the weather and of course the wonderful Sierra Nevada mountains. I’m still living the dream. I have kept a record of my adventures here in the Alpujarras ever since.
Richard Hartley, (El Perro Negro)
Nicely balanced between the wonderful mountains of the Sierra Nevada and my life in the Alpujarras with partner, Kiersten and Dogs. Occasional forays to the wild and untamed Patagonia region of southern Argentina.
Mid-life crisis? I had mine at 45. I walked out of the well-paid Financial Directors role and turned to that great passion of mine, the mountains. I had been training as a mountain guide on a part time basis since 1983 so it was a logical move. Now for the dream? We ran trips to Scotland and the Alps. I always thought I would buy a place on the west coast of Scotland.
Then in 2000 I was forced to go on a group holiday to Mallorca. I was expecting lager louts and tatoos, but found and discovered, sunshine! What a difference to the grey drizzle of a scottish morning. Instead I was able to walk in t-shirt and shorts amid glorious mountain scenery, the constant smell of fresh herbs around me, and in warm weather. Bliss! That was a turning point, as my love affair with Spain began.
A chance reading of an article in a magazine lead me to organise a ‘boys trip’ to the Sierra Nevada in southern Spain. There I discovered high mountains, wonderful snow and of course the sun again. Even more bliss! Not only that but the people were friendly, the food was good and it was cheap. Free tapas with every beer meant that we spent nothing on food for a week! Separating from my wife (she married a accountant who became a mountain guide!) late in 2002 gave me the opportunity to totally redirect my life.
In December of that year I packed my pickup truck with my worldly possessions, my dog and headed south. I never looked back. The first place I arrived at was Lanjaron in the Alpujarras and funnily enough, I’m still here. I love the people, the culture, the tradition, the history, the weather and of course the wonderful mountains. I’m still living the dream. During my early years here I wrote many emails back home to friends and family. They give a flavour as to what you may expect, if you should ever follow in my footsteps, or indeed make some footsteps of your own!
News, views, trip reports, mountain and snow reports for the Sierra Nevada, Spain for walkers, trekkers, mountaineers and ski tourers.
I first visited the lofty summits of the Sierra Nevada in April 2000. Predictably we were greeted with lots of sun and snow. It blew our minds and had us rushing back time and again for more. Since then I have had the pleasure of experiencing these mountains in all weathers, at all times of the year. I never tire of them……
“Then all hell breaks out. What feels like hurricane force winds hit us face on. Any tracks left by the others vanish in seconds. We manage only a few steps at a time before we dig ice axes into the snow and brace ourselves for the next gust which tries to rip us off the planet. We have to keep going. We are beyond the point of no return and safety lies ahead of us not behind us. Daylight is running out, our energy is running out and we need to make camp”
During April 2013, members of the Spanish Highs team joined a Berghaus sponsored expedition led Berghaus athlete, Julia Pickering, attempting to make the first ski and snowboard climb and descent of the highest active volcano in Kamchatka, Klyutchevskoy Sopka (4750m). Richard Hartley and Kiersten Rowland of Spanish Highs, Sierra Nevada were invited to join this Berghaus sponsored trip.
Of course there is this blog but there is more ……..
Our dogs started this blog because we were allowed to write one, with no interference from the humans. The inspiration behind it really was this bunch called The Thundering Herd, they write a daily blog about what goes on in their day and we thought we would like to give it a go. Not only do they have our own blog but Khumbu also has his own Twitter site where we have met lots of dogs and animals from all over the world. If you want to follow him he is known as Khumbusibe. They have a video site too on Daily Motion and You Tube where you will find regular videos of us.
They have a far greater social following than either me, Kiersten or Spanish Highs put together!
Local Alpujarras blog about the trails and tribulations of living as a foreigner here in southern Spain.