Great views and mixed feelings: Sat, Dec 13, 2003

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. As I escaped the clutches of the chair at the top a strange peace descended. No wind, no snow just still and clear conditions. The sky was bright blue and the late winter sun was low to the SW. I skied southwards along a wide ridge and was met by an unforgettable sight. Beyond the line of the ski run the mountains dropped to the Alpujarras and my home. Beyond them the coastal hills and the beaches of southern Spain were clearly seen. The Mediterranean sea glinted in the sunlight and beyond still was Africa! Africa stretched from the SE to the SW horizon in a long unbroken stretch of mountains. I’d heard rumnours that on a clear day you could see Morrocco but in 12 months of being here I had begun to think the tale a myth. The natural curvature of the earth was seen to great effect and way to the SW the Rock of Gibraltar stood out at the gateway to the Mediterranean …………………… what a shame I forgot my bloody camera!

Talking of skiing, developments are afoot in these here parts. The present ski area can hold 38,000 skiers a day. Not enough evidently. There’s a consortium of companies trying to expand the Sierra Nevada ski area. Discussions are taking place now but it seems as if all parties involved want to expand the ski area to go right the way along to the Cerro Caballo, the peak above Lanjarón. A massive ski area rivalling the larger French resorts would result. That would mean that an access to the then-substantial ski area would be made from Lanjarón. House prices here would rocket, no doubt! Access to skiing on the doorstep……how good is that? Or is it?

I must admit the lure of a chairlift from the town would be good. The sharp increase in house prices would be welcome. No doubt I would get some more walking and climbing business too. There is also no doubt that it would bring a much needed boost to the Alpujarras. Andalucia is one of the poorest and sparsely populated places, not only in Spain, but Europe too. However, would these developments spoil the charm, the ambience, the simplicity? Would it really benefit these people? At the moment you can walk these tracks all day and not see another soul apart from the odd Mule man or Goat herder. That would change for sure. So food for thought and mixed feelings at the moment.

The Australian “woofers” have spent the last 2 weeks olive picking and have collected some 700kg of olives. This should give us a return of about 125 litres of olive oil, or a “lot of chips” to those of you who haven’t gone metric yet!

Written by:
Richard Hartley

Richard is an avid blogger and the founder of Spanish Highs Sierra Nevada. He is author of the Cicerone Guidebook Walking and Trekking in the Sierra Nevada