Category: Trips Out and About

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As the dawn on a new year breaks it’s a good time to reflect on the past 12 months. 2011 has been unforgettable in so many ways. There were ups and downs, of course (it is the mountains after all…..ha ha!), but experiences in the Sierra Nevada and Patagonia have shown me some insights I thought I’d share with you. 1. You can make a difference to your world no matter how small it seems!
30 January / Trips out and about
Sometimes it takes a great effort to leave the comfort of one’s home and head for the cold, icy peaks. Some hardship though, is always rewarded by the mountains. Although we have passed it several times we had never thought to spend a night at the ruins of the relatively unknown Cebollar Refugio, located at 2500m in the heart of the Sierra Nevada. Until a few weeks ago that is.
If you’ve never tried snowshoeing, you should! When the fresh snow lies thick on the hillsides of the Alpujarras and Sierra Nevada head for the upper pine forests and have some fun! There is no finer place to enjoy a day’s snowshoeing after recent snowfall than above Puente Palo in the pine forests of the Alpujarras. Last week we were privileged to enjoy the company of a family from the USA, as we guided them on a days snowshoeing.
Yes it’s true. We had a good day’s skiing yesterday in the Sierra Nevada with our dogs, Bruno (leonberger) and Khumbu (siberian husky). We parked at the Hoya de la Mora above the ski town of Pradollano and made the 45 minute traverse on a good road and track towards the middle ski station area called, Borreguiles. Just before arriving we found some old ski pistes still intact, so decided to follow these uphill.
Went on a half day birdwatch trip with run by Ian and Steve. They are a fairly new company that have set up their birdwatching tours base in our spa town of Lanjaron. We met at 10am outside a bar in Lanjaron, there were 9 of us in total in 2 4x4 vehicles. We drove a short way outside of Lanjaron to a town called Padul and down some tracks to a wetland area (yes a wetland area in Andalucia).
14 April / Trips out and about
Had great day yesterday ski mountaineering with client, Jackie Belbeck in the Sierra Nevada. We parked behind Trevenque in the Cumbres Verdes just SE of Granada at the Casa Forestal de Cortijuela Botanical gardens (1700m). A walk up though the forest to the Collado de Matas Verdes and onto the Collado del Pino at 2045m where we found continuous snows. We donned boots, skins and skis and headed up the Barranco due south.
Some thoughts and observations from my recent trip back to the north of England from Lanjaron. Parking at Malaga airport Now this might come as somewhat of a surprise to those of you who hate Malaga airport (and the years of renovation work we have had to put up with!), but we have found the perfect answer with the company Easy Parking What a refreshing change! Helpful, happy staff.
04 September / Trips out and about
We recently got caught out at Siete Lagunas in the Sierra Nevada when our tent was destroyed overnight by high wind gusts. Very strange conditions as the violent gusts were followed by total calm for a few minutes before starting up again. We woke at 2am with a broken pole and mended it. At 5am and 6am further tent poles were broken but couldn’t be repaired due to lack of materials.
Our dogs, Bruno and Khumbu made it to the top of Mulhacen yesterday after a 5 hour ascent from the ranger station above Capileira. They were part of the Spanish Highs “team” that was helping in the ascent for a UK woman, who’s brother was killed on the mountain in 2006.
The mad leonberger in question was my dog Bruno, of course. He loves the snow and tends to get “carried away” by it all. Trouble is that the origins of a “Leonberger” are a mix of Newfoundland, Pyrennean Mountain and …. St Bernard. This makes him believe that his sole role in life is to save peoples lives, especially when he is out in the snows. When some clients tried sliding down a snowslope today he ran to their rescue.
Unbelievable but true. About a foot of new snow overnight down to 2400m and its 19th May! We started off from a snowy Hoya de la Mora at 9am and headed south for Veleta before donning snowshoes and dropping down leftwards into the San Juan bowl. Good job we had the snowshoes on as the snowdepth was thigh deep in places. We had a minor problem when a snowbridge failed and I went for a swim in a river.
Today was a ski touring day. We parked at the Hoya de la Mora. A short 15 min walk took us to the snow at 2600m. We skied via Borregueilles to near the summit of Veleta. Surprisingly there is a lot of snow! The snow was hard in the morning (perfect for skiing) but by mid-day was beginning to soften and by 2pm was slushy, especially at lower altitudes below 2900m.
Ok, it was just an idea. Sounded great. Get a husky and train it to pull us uphill on skis. It’s a large and growing sport evidently in North America and Scandanavia. Well we may live in the driest part of Europe, but if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us. Right? Couldn’t be too hard to train a husky because that’s what they do isnt it?
Just spent 3 days doing the circuit of the northern peaks. The Peña Partida hut is in a good state, well sited, comfy and sleeps about 12. About 5hrs walk in from the trailhead east of Guejar-Sierra. The hut provides access to peaks and climbs on Puntal de los Cuartos, Cerro del Mojon Alto and the Atalaya. Snow had hard icy crust and unconsolidated powder underneath. Second night spent in dip just W of Collado de Vacares.
Our trip to explore new routes in the Huetor found nothing new worth doing at the present time. Dennis, Clive and I had a go at a likely line but found it steep and loose, eventually having to abseil off. Nevermind, better look next time! Photo below showing Dennis leading.
So there we were. A nice warm day, no clouds. What to do? So why not try that flat topped mountain that we can just see from our house that’s in an unknown and remote location? We’ve named it “Flat Top” just to be original! So I looked on the internet to find out information re approach, access etc. It turns out that a Spanish forum was the only site to mention the peak that is in fact called….
“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home” repeated Tracy, with eyes tightly shut, as she tapped her feet together three times “Why, oh why didn’t I listen to Richard more carefully” she thought. Let me explain………………………… I had a party of 7 clients camped high on the Cerro de Caballo (3,001 metres) last Tuesday night. We had walked up that afternoon. The plan was for Tracy (who came along helping to carry gear etc) to return to her car early Wednesday.
It’s a funny ole world isnt it? Stood in the middle of Lanjarón main street last Tuesday was certainly a somewhat surreal occasion. In one hand I had a ham sandwich as my other held a plastic bowl with blood covered scalpel. Cowboys rode past and loud Flamenco music blared out. Tourist cars passed by unaware of the unfolding drama! Let me elaborate……………. Kings Day is the 6th January. Its the day the Three Kings visited Bethlehem and gave presents.
More blabberings from Andalucia…………… I’ve seen some wonderful sights over the years. Walking and climbing in the mountains has provided me with some dramatic and spectacular sights. Even so, last Friday, I was totally unprepared for the view I was to find. I had ridden the lifts upwards from the Sierra Nevada ski centre. The top chair to the summit was cold and exposed as a icy cold wind blew ferociously into my face.
This group are the ones that I took up Ben Nevis last November. There were 15 members of the party that day, mostly from Taiwan, Hong Kong and India. We summited very late in the day and I remember giving them a stern talking to before setting off down the mountain. I reminded them that the sun was setting and we needed to act with the utmost urgency as night was falling.
Just had a fantastic day in the hills yesterday. Did a solo crossing of the Sierra Nevada range from the Ski Centre via Granada over the peaks and down to Capileira in the Alpujarras. First time ever I’ve had to use all my gear that I’ve spent a lifetime buying! Skis and skins for the ascent of Veleta (3398 m), Crampons and axes for the descent of Carihuela del Veleta, even snowshoes for the long walk down to Capileira (6000ft of descent.
Have started Spanish lessons. At my assessement with the teacher, Eduardo, last week I was quite pleased as he placed me in course 4 (out of 14). I’m now having 3 lessons of 1.5hrs each per week when I’m not in the hills working. Now, Eduardo is an Argentinian who has evidently been brought up on the Costa del Sol. Hence I’ve now learned to say “Dos grandes beers por favor?
Rocky and I had our first trip up the hills yesterday. Objective was to suss out the way off the western end of the Sierra Nevada ridge line. This entails dropping down from the last 3,000m peak (Cerro de Caballo) and landing hopefully at the villa in Lanjarón. As we would be above the snow line I took full winter gear. We started out early and made good progress, but the altitude and deep snow stopped up at about 2,300m.