Ascent of Pico Almanzor on 2009-08-12

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Bob Packard
Date:Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Pico Almanzor
    Elevation:8501 ft / 2591 m

Ascent Trip Report

Bob Packard and I had climbed Pico de Aneto on Monday, then drove down Tuesday and took a room at Hostal (=rural hotel) Almanzor in Navarredonda de Gredos (first place on R when approaching from the E). This is a comfortable place with a nice restaurant and a track at the back leading onto heathland giving views SW to Almanzor. From here, the range has two "claws": Almanzor on the left and La Galana on the right. From here it's 15km to the trailhead: 3km W on AV-941 to Hoyos del Aspino then L on AV-931: parking at end of tarmac road, N40:16.535, W5:13.933, 1770m.

To avoid the August heat (which didn't turn out to be too bad) we set off at first light, just before 7 a.m. The Hotel had put some breakfast ready for us the night before.

Beyond the barrier a wide stone-pitched track continues, zig-zagging twice. At a signpost the track descends slightly: here fork R, uphill. Shortly, at another junction, go staight on, ignoring a trail R to a nearby refuge. There are no more route choices. The trail crosses grassland, then a concrete bridge, then zigzags up to its highpoint at 2200m. Here there is a fine view of the jagged Almanzor skyline. Descending, the trail curves L, revealing more pinnacles and eventually Laguna Grande with the Refugia Elola at its far side.

From the Refuge, the trail (cairned, rocky) passes R of a rock outcrop then climbs L above it. After 5 mins there is a fork (N40:14.839, W5:17.282): keep L for Almanzor (the R fork goes to La Galana: I descended that way). The route continues SW up a steep stable granite boulderfall (cairns) then turns NW towards the summit. Higher up the boulderfield narrows into a gully which forks: keep L. At the col, the path turns R, keeping on the LHS of the steep ridge, then works its way round to the L before turning R up a gully/chimney. Steep scrambling leads up to the twin summit: the higher one is to the R, with a trig pillar and a rickety metal cross. It's a very exposed location with room for 2 people at a time. The view is very fine. From here it is possible to cross (N) to the other slightly lower wider summit.

I continued along the ridge to La Galana, 2572m, P88m, the 2nd highest Gredos summit. Initially scramble back down the first chimney / gully, then head round to the L as soon as feasible (cairn), cross a gap and descend, keeping on the R side of the rocky pinnacled ridge leading N. The cairned path keeps fairly low; I took in a couple of the more significant tops, none of them having much prominence, maybe 30m. The impressive-looking peak to the R is Ameal de Pablo, 2489m, reputably a hardish scramble (UIAA II according to SummitPost) Eventually a broad saddle is crossed, with La Galana straight ahead, looking challenging. A bouldery climb finishes above a vertical drop. From here is YDS Class 3 to the summit. Downclimb here (R then L) into the gap then steeply up the other side. The final vertical wall is passed on the L, via a ledge, then climb up to the R between 2 slabby outcrops of similar height: this is the summit: an impressive location.

After re-crossing the gap, return (south) to the saddle, then a trail descends loose ground SE to a grassy hollow, then follows a valley SE towards the Elola refuge. This is grassy at fiurst but soon becomes an impressive rocky canyon. The cairned trail keeps towards to R side: be sure to keep to it. After a lot of rocky ground and some easy down-scrambling, the cairned trail rejoins te main Almanzor path at the fork mentioned above (N40:14.839, W5:17.282). Turn L to return to the refuge, hence the trail back to the car park.

This is a very impressive and enjoyable hike. Bob and I hiked together to the Elola refuge in 3h. I then went on ahead, intent on the 2 summits, reaching Almanzor in 1h15, La Galana in a further 1h25 and the Elola refuge in 1h20. I sat out a heavy rain shower, then hiked back to the trailhead with Bob. The trailhead has a shelter, a place selling snacks and drinks and apparently some cooking facilities.

We drove back out E to the N502 and drove S and E to Talavera where we stayed at the fairly "dull" but adequate Ebora Hotel (with A/C - essential with temps of 35C at 7.p.m!). This made for an easy drive south the next morning en route for Sierra Lujar and Mulhacen.

The Gredos area is famed for its birdlife. As well as the usual Alpine Accentors, on the hike I noted Bluethroat, Rock thrush, Water pipit and Black redstart. There was a nice group of Chamois near the 2200m trail summit. In the Hostal grounds were Crossbill, Great grey shrike and Serin, with Dartford warbler in the heathland.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5974 ft / 1820 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5974 ft / 1820 m
    Round-Trip Distance:13.7 mi / 22 km
    Grade/Class:YDS 3
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4334 ft / 1321 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2694 ft / 822 m; Extra: 1640 ft / 499m
    Loss on way in:1640 ft / 499 m
    Distance:6.2 mi / 10 km
    Route:Trail from ENE
    Start Trailhead:La Plataforma  5807 ft / 1769 m
    Time:4 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:4334 ft / 1321 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 2694 ft / 822 m; Extra: 1640 ft / 499m
    Gain on way out:1640 ft / 499 m
    Distance:7.5 mi / 12 km
    Route:Trail from ENE
    End Trailhead:La Plataforma  5807 ft / 1769 m
    Time:2 Hours 50 Minutes

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