Sunday, 29 March 2009

10 days in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Our last visit to Spain before the summer, when we will be leading two holidays, including a week of high mountain walking.

Having not devoted enough time to pruning trees during our last visit to the Sierra Nevada, Mike & Jane spent the first few days of their trip working on our land, before too much new spring growth.  We arrived late on Thursday evening, driving through snow showers, and not a little concern about the weather.  However it got progressively better, and full attention was paid to getting the jobs out of the way before we met Andy from Granada airport on Sunday evening.

The snow level was only just above our house at 1300m, and there was more snow than we have ever seen on the surrounding Sierra de Lujar and more distant Malaga mountains.  Martin Riley IML came to 'supervise' the chores and hatch plans for climbing and scrambling later in the week.  Andy Say (CEO of Mountain Leader Training) joined us after a weekend in Scotland, and thus the team was complete for the weeks events. 

Monday saw us rock climbing at Niguelas, with routes between 4 and 6a climbed.  It was expedition tactics to get one member of the team (Jane, being the lightest!) up the 6a!  We also explored the gorge below, for possible canyoning routes.

Early tuesday morning saw us heading off to Capileira (1400m) for breakfast, before snowshoeing up to the Poqueira refuge at 2500m where we spent the night.  The following morning time was spent practicing winter skills, digging bucket seats, ice axe and snow belays, before continuing down to Las Thomas and following the acequia back to the road, just above our car.  Despite the deep snow, there was no wind, and the sun shone, giving us some brilliant mountain scenery.

Thursday, a more restful rock climbing option with 7 routes ascended in the Castilejo gorge near Orgiva.  Mike and Andy spent time eyeing up possible new routes for the next visit!

Friday we met Martin, who shepherded us up a 'hidden gem' in the Huetor natural park.  We had done some rock climbing, here, but the delights of scrambling amongst spring flowers, warm rock and magnificent views of the snow covered Sierra Nevada really took some beating!  At one point we stood, just below the summit watching a helicopter circle alongside - whether it was our imagination, or the Spanish authorities wondering what was going on we were not too sure, but they soon left us in peace to reach the high point and survey the panorama.  We will be going back again!