Snowy adventures: Mon, Mar 03, 2003

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.)

It was 60 hrs since the last snows fell, but the range was in a high state of alert over the avalanche dangers. Stood looking over the cornice on top of the Carihuela at the mass of snow bowls below me I did consider returning. Eventually after a 15 min summoning up of courage and with adrenaline flowing fast I began the steep descent of the summit ridge. By keeping to the ridge line or traversing below rocks on the right hand side I lessened the risk but my heart was beating fast by the time I reached the relative safety of easy ground.

Then began a long snowshoe descent that became harder as the hot sun softened the lower snows. Blisters on both feet made it hard work. I reached the town and trudged (limped really!) through the masses of short-cladden tourists who gave me some really funny looks. Not surprising really as I had a rucksack laden with skis, poles, snowshoes, axes, crampons etc etc. Shade temps are now 25 deg C and the hot weather looks likely to continue. Having a rest day today. A few well earned Pina Coladas on the balcony I think.

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