Ascent of Pico Almanzor on 2009-10-11

Climber: Lee Newton

Date:Sunday, October 11, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Pico Almanzor
    Elevation:8501 ft / 2591 m

Ascent Trip Report

On a perfect autumn day I set out before dawn into the chill of the morning air. There were already 50 or 60 cars at the trailhead and the number of parking spaces told me that this would be a busy hill (just how busy would become apparent later).

In relative peace I made it to the refuge Elola, observing a very tame group of Spanish Ibex along the way with their impressive horns. As I arrived at the refuge the sun had just crested the ridge and the occupants of about 25 tents were just beginning to appear. By the time I had eaten my second breakfast there was a steady stream of people from the refuge, the tents, and the trail behind me heading up the hill. I set off with many a friendly Hola along the way and soon made it up the boulderfield to the Portilla del Crampon. The last few metres were still damp and slippy and caused some difficulty to the punters in trainers ahead of me (boots recommended for this hike). It would be difficult to miss the trail even without so many people on it unless there was a thick mist or rain.

From the Portilla an enjoyable scramble leads towards the summit. As it narrows to a gully, keep right for the easiest of the 2 variants. Above there is a stance for about 10 people (there were 20) below the summit rocks. After queueing for about 20 mins I could finally take my turn to scramble up to the right (steep but excellent in-cut holds) and the summit. It was one-way traffic to reach the other summit and descend (less steeply but with less good holds back to the stance and from there back down. Looking at the queue on the route to La Galana made up my mind not to go there and I passed many many people on the way back to the refuge. From there the path back down to the car held a constant stream of people toiling up to this obvious beauty spot, and many were clearly not headed for Almanzor.

At the car park I was lucky to squeeze my car out from between the buses and campervans and back down the road. The verge was fully parked for 3km with (at a guess) 300-400 cars. I found out later this was a holiday weeekend but I doubt this hike can really be recommended on any summer or autumn weekend. The number of inexperienced people sliding around over the summit block was more dangerous than the climbing itself, although everyone was extremely patient and good-natured about it as I normally find in Spain...
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4138 ft / 1261 m
    Extra Gain:722 ft / 220 m
    Round-Trip Distance:12.4 mi / 20 km
    Trailhead:La Plataforma  5807 ft / 1769 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 

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