Ascent of Mulhacén on 2009-08-14

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Bob Packard
Date:Friday, August 14, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
    Elevation:11414 ft / 3478 m

Ascent Trip Report

I climbed this peak with Bob Packard. We stayed 2 nights in Capileira at Hostal Atalaya at the lower end of the village (pretty much the first building on the R). A useful facility is an internet cafe, Taberna la Tapa tucked away in a back street at N 36:57.72, W3:21.606, open 7pm - midnight.

We had planned to get the shuttle bus up to Mirador de Trevelez 2750m, but on enquiring at the Tourist Info Centre (also near the bottom end of the village, open evenings 6ish til 8) all seats were taken for the next day. We were advised we should have phoned as it´s the weekend (Friday?!) +34 958 763486.

So we drove up to the trailhead, Hoya del Portillo, N 36:58.112, W3:19.981, 2150m and started at first light, 7 a.m. Maze of trails initially but keep heading N and a main trail appears, exits the forest then joins the main dirt road, with the odd short cut missing some of the road zigzags. Nice and cool although it´s August, quite chilly higher up (temps were pleasant all day until final descent: hot below 2500m).

Once past Mirador de Trevelez I took the S ridge path which branches R opposite the wide track which descends L (signposted) to Refugia Poqueira. The trail up the S ridge is obvious most of the way although a little more obscure crossing the upper stonefield. At 3366m a trig pìllar is reached, 1km S of the summit. The summit itself is a slightly scrambly block with a shrine in the S face and another circular trig pillar on top. NE of the summit is a chaos of boulders: I picked my way across to the start of the NE ridge for a view down on Alcazaba, the 2nd highest of the Sierra Nevada peaks. I had the summit to myself although passed 2 people who were going down and several other parties who were ascending.

As I have 24 years on Bob I went on ahead with a view to also visiting La Veleta, the 2nd highest S Nevada summit. The path descending the W face is clearly marked with 2 "gatepost" cairns. There´s a great view of La Caldera with its laguna and I couldn´t resist visiting Punta de la Caldera, 3223m (map), 3222 (GPSr). The col is just to the S, which I measured at 3124-6, hence prominence apparently approx 98m. The W ridge ends in a crag: I descended L to 3140m thn scrambled R into the gap to continue round the rim (it may be possible to descend R instead). There are 3 more highpoints which I meaasured at 3183, 3187 and 3184, the prominence of the higher is approx 50m. There is then an easy descent W (nice group of 6 Ibex) to the dirt road which leads E to La Veleta. En route I checked what appears to be the Veleta col, 3089m (GPSr), N37:03.36, W3:21.938. Its mapped summit height is 3394m hence prominence approx 305m (1000ft). (actually 307m - see below).

La Veleta summit (circular trig pillar) was thronged with visitors. The return route back to the Mulhacen trailhead has many gentle downhill sections and I jogged most of it, catching Bob 20 mins before the finish. This was the last of Bob´s 12 most prominent peaks in Europe: a project he´d been working on over the last few years.

My timings were: Mulhacen 2h30 (allow up to 5h), La Caldera SW summit 2h, La Veleta 1h30, Mulhacen trailhead 1h50. Total 40km (GPSr), approx 1900m ascent including Caldera summits and La Veleta.

Map: we bought a 1:40000 map in the village which was useful for planning although barely referred to during the hike. Not really needed for Mulhacen: the tourist office have a reasonable free handout map. But note that the clouds tend to come down during the afternoon: Mulhacen was in cloud by mnid afternoon.

Updated 4 Dec 09: Veleta is E3396, col 3089 on 1:25k map hence P=307m

Spanish IGN mapping
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6099 ft / 1858 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1739 ft / 530 m
    Round-Trip Distance:31.1 mi / 50 km
    Grade/Class:YDS1 (summit block Y
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4360 ft / 1328 m
    Distance:7.8 mi / 12.5 km
    Route:South ridge
    Start Trailhead:Hoya del Portillo  7054 ft / 2150 m
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1739 ft / 530 m
    Gain on way out:1739 ft / 530 m
    Distance:23.3 mi / 37.5 km
    Time:6 Hours 20 Minutes

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