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Frequently Asked Questions Spanish Highs Mountain Guides

FAQ page that answers queries about our walking, mountaineering and activity holidays in the Sierra Nevada

Click on one of the quick links below to access the answer directly. Let us know if there if you have questions not answered.

FAQ Quick links

Malaga Airport arrival instructions

When you collect you baggage follow everybody else, past the car rental desks and into the arrivals hall. Turn right and head outside the main doors. 20m away ahead and just to the right is a blue meeting point sign (with a cafe bar beyond "Gambrinus"). You will be met here. Transfer to Lanjaron just under 2hrs

Malaga Airport Arrivals Board

How do I get to Lanjaron from the nearest aiports or bus stations?

Full details and maps of how to get to Lanjaron from Malaga, Granada and Almeria

Granada's bus station is at Carretera de Jaen s/n, the continuation of Avenida de Madrid, 3 km north west of the centre. All services operate from here except for a few to nearby destinations such as Fuente Vaqueros, Viznar and the Estacion de Esqui Sierra Nevada. Lockers used for more than 24 hours cost 2 Euros and there's a large cafeteria. Alsina Graells runs to Las Alpujarras, Cordoba eight times daily, Seville nine times daily, Seville nine times daily, Malaga fourteen times daily and Jaen, Baeza, Ubeda, Cazorla, Almeria, Almunecar and Nerja several times daily. You can consult the timetable, fares and destinations at: www.alsinagraells.es

What is the meeting point and arrangements for departures in Lanjaron?

Map and Location of Meeting Points. Normal meeting point is at EL Volante restaurant nearly opposite the only petrol station in town. Marked 11 on the map above, east side of town, direction Orgiva.

What facilities does Lanjaron have?

Lanjaron has small but well stocked supermarkets as well as lots of fruit, vegetable, meat and bread shops. Unless you have special dietary requirements we have found most basic foodstuffs can be bought here. There are plenty of bars and restaurants. See our information page for our own personal recommendations.

What other activities can I do there?

Horse Trekking - Our good friend Sarah has been running riding stables here for many years. A great way to view the hills and scenery of the Alpujarra.

Mountain Biking - We recommend either Biking Andalucia or Freeride Spain, based in the Lanjaron area.

Meeting point for pick up of clients at Alhambra Palace in Granada

The place for client pick ups and drop off near the Alhambra Palace is shown on the map below. It is situated about 300m above the Alhambra Palace, just above the main car parks.

meeting point Alhambra Palace area

How far away are other attractions?

Beach - nearest beaches are on the Costa Granada about 40 mins drive away at Salobrena. Almunecar is 50 mins and Nerja 1 hr.

Mini Hollywood at Tabernas - Wild West film sets - 2 hrs drive via Granada, A9 Guadix direction Almeria.

Alhambra Palace, Granada - 45 mins via the A44.

Trevelez - highest village in Spain - 1hr.

How can I book a ticket for the Alhambra in Granada?

It is fairly straightforward to order Alhambra tickets in advance. This is recommended especially at peak times. Book through www.alhambra-tickets.es.
An informative guide to ticket booking is found at Spanish Fiestas website.

What will the weather be like?

Check out our own weather records. We also have a webcam based above our cortijo. In addition you can see the Sierra Nevada webcams from the ski centre to get idea of conditions.

Do you need Insurance Cover?

Assume the spanish goverment will now charge for rescue services.

Please read http://www.sierra-nevada-news.com/2009/10/paying-rescue-sierra-nevada-negligence/.

See http://www.sierra-nevada-news.com/2009/10/insurance-rescue-services-mountains/ for our recommendations

Make sure you have suitable cover!

How to Prepare for Outdoor Adventure Activities

Southern Spain is perhaps best known for its beaches, which are immensely popular with British sunseekers in the summer months. Relatively few tourists, however, venture inland where a wide variety of outdoor adventure activities are on offer. Andalucia and Murcia are excellent for trekking, walking and mountaineering, and in the winter months the Sierra Nevada provides superb ski and snow sports facilities.

The GR7 footpath forms part of the European Route 4, which covers more than 10,000km. The "Gran Recorrido" or "Long Journey" originates in Tarifa, and takes in many of the highlights of rural Andalucia. Trekking in these areas can be challenging, so some preparation before you leave can be a big help. Try to be as active as possible in the weeks and months before you leave ? you will feel the benefits when trekking, particularly at high altitudes.

Safety is an important consideration, particularly in more isolated areas. Keep well hydrated, and take on as much water as possible in the mornings before leaving camp. You should always keep someone informed of the route you plan to take, as mobile phones may not work in all regions. Outside the main cities, it may be tricky to buy trekking supplies. Light and breathable fabrics will offer versatility, and are best purchased before you leave. A warm fleece, and wind and rainproof jacket will usually suffice, with Merrell and Berghaus providing high quality solutions. Light trekking boots are a must, and perhaps most importantly, some protection from the sun in the form of a high factor suncream and hat or cap.

A medium sized backpack and 2/3 season sleeping bag will usually be sufficient. A tent which won`t break your back on longer walks is a must, and this doesn`t have to break the bank. The Vango range in particular offers a variety of tents for any type of trek.

Southern Spain also offers some phenomenal mountaineering, including mainland Spain`s highest mountain, Mulhacen. For more technical ascents, good quality crampons and an iceaxe are a must ? it can snow for six months of the year at this altitude. Snow sports are also popular in the south of the country. The season in Pradollano, in the Sierra Nevada, runs from December to April. Pradollano is the most southerly ski resort in Europe, so offers much milder skiing temperatures than many other destinations. Snowboarding and other sports are also available.

Whilst resorts usually offer a hire service, equipment is worth investing in, even for the occasional skier. Well-fitting kit makes a huge difference on the slopes. The combination of sun, snow and wind chill mean a variety of solutions are required. The benefits of choosing the right kit ? what sleeping bags and tents best serve your requirements for example ? cannot be overstated. Whatever your activity of choice, your comfort and safety are important above all.

Where can I buy mountain gear and clothing in the Alpujarras?

If you are ever in need of mountain gear and equipment for that next visit into the Sierra Nevada, than the place to go and visit is Desportes Nomadas in Durcal http://www.deportesnomadas.com

Guillermo, the owner has put much effort into bringing top brands into Spain. As well as the spanish Trangoworld and Inesca brands, he has now brought in such top names as Berghaus, North Face, Marmot, Salomen, Deuter, Arcteryx, Osprey etc

The shop really does sell quality, well made gear. In addition the prices are reasonable and Guillermo himself, is very knowledgeable about the products.

There is also a large amount of technical gear for rock and ice climbing, canyoning, mountain biking and just mountain trekking. There is a good selection of boots and trainers available.

If you want good honest advice, quality products at sensible prices then you should visit. If you can't make it to Durcal then you can always buy online at the website address!

Can we hire mountain gear from yourselves?

Dont be weight penalised by the airlines! We have a fully stocked rental facility here in Lanjaron in the heart of the Sierra Nevada. Winter or summer we have a large stock available at reasonable hire rates.

Visit the Gear Rental page

N.B Our own courses and holidays include the rental of equipment.

What equipment do I need to bring?

Please refer to our equipment recommendations. Bear in mind that this is personal preference and to be used as a guide. If you need to hire or use equipment then please see our gear rental facility.

Whats the best map to use in the Sierra Nevada?

The best map by far is the following:

Parque National de Sierra Nevada
Scale 1:40000
http://www.penibetica.com
ISBN: 84-933461-9-5

Buy at Stanfords in London http://www.stanfords.co.uk/Sierra-Nevada-AlpujarrasMarquesado-del-Zenete-MapGuide_9788494365218 or http://www.articodis.com/index.php/libros.html?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=3&category_id=9

When does the first snow arrive and how long does it last?

In normal seasons the first major snows arrive in November, but there are exceptions. In 2008 the first snows fell on 8th October and the mountains were white until end May with up to 5m snow depth in places!

Expect some heavy snow in November. The ski centre opens reliably between 23rd and 30th November and closes end of April in normal years.

Snows last until end May for ski touring, snowshoeing and mountaineering. In April and May though the hard ice of early mornings can be replaced by soft slushy snow lower down

Is booking in advance necessary for the Poqueira hut?

Absolutely. Even more so now than in the past. The hut seems to be getting busier and pre booking in advance is essential to reserve beds and meals. In busy times (ie easter, christmas, new year) you may even be allocated a place on the floor therefore you will need a sleeping mat and sleeping bag as well.

Guardians: Rafael Quintero y Ansi Mosiero
Telephone: +34 958 34 33 49
Mobile: +34 659 55 42 24
Email: refugiopoqueira@hotmail.com

Details about the refuge or visit their website

What Alpine Clubs have reciprocal rights with the Poqueira Refugio?

To the best of our knowledge the following have reciprocal rights for reduced Poqueira Refugio hut and meal fees:

  • Federacion Andaluza de Montanismo
  • Austrian Alpine Club
  • Deutscher Alpenverein
  • Club Alpin Francais
  • Italian Alpine Club
  • Club Alpin Swiss

The affiliations normally run from January to December each year and are very good value. Rather surprisingly, the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) does not have these reciprocal rights with Andalucian huts.

By showing your affiliated card the price of a nights stay at the Poqueira hut drops from about 11 to 5 euros and a similar drop is experienced in meal costs (2008 prics).

If only climbing or trekking in Andalucia I would recommend the Federacion Andaluza de Montanismo. As we climb throughout the world we use the Austrian Alpine Club.

What guarded or unguarded huts and refuges are there?

We maintain a full list of both guarded and ungearded refuges, huts and shelters in the Sierra Nevada.

I have heard that there maybe problems with foxes whilst wild camping?

Yes. The incidence of tents being damaged by foxes in search of food is increasing. Reports from the trekkers suggest that attacks are becoming incresingly co-ordinated. Strange this, as foxes are by nature solitary animals.

Keep food away from tents or deep inside a rucksack. Keep objects away from the inside of tent walls as this can encourage the fox to try to enter. You may also try a homemade pepper spray which has had some success. Apart from that, take a dog!

More info: check out our news site for related "fox" posts.

Are there regulations regarding wild camping in the Sierra Nevada?

The Consejeria de Medio Ambiente of Andalucia states the following with regard to wild camping in the Sierra Nevada National Park.

  • It is permitted to bivouac or wild camp overnight anywhere in the park
  • You cannot spend more than 1 night in the same location
  • Tents should be erected only after the sun has set and taken down before the sun rises
  • Groups of more than 3 tents and/or 15 persons must seek prior permission from the park authorities
  • Not permitted to camp within 500m of guarded huts, tarmac roads or forest roads
  • Not permitted to camp within 50m of lagunas (lakes) or borreguiles (high wet lands)
  • Not permitted to camp within the Centursa ski boundary
  • Not permitted to camp in forest zones in periods of high fire risk 1st June to 15th October

Contact:

Centro Administrativo del Parque Nacional y Parque Natural Sierra Nevada
Ctra. Antigua de Sierra Nevada km7
18191 Pinos Genil (Granada)
Tel: 958026300
Fax: 859026310
Email: pn.snevada@cma.junta-andalucia.es

Emergency telephone numbers 112

Guardia Civil 062

Weather in the Sierra Nevada at http://www.spanishhighs.co.uk/weather-sierra-nevada.php

When is Los Tres Miles 300m peak ridge traverse possible for non mountaineers?

You can normally complete this and bypass any remaining snow between June and October inclusive. In most years it can be done in May and November but this does depends on late season and early season snowfall.

Up to April and from December onwards the ridge is best left to experienced mountaineers when the full traverse is a full on winter mountaineering challenge.

What are the risks of avalanches?

We have studied the avalanche risks for many years. As an aid to climbers, mountaineers, ski tourers and walkers for the winter seasons, we produce an Avalanche Information System based on the highly successful Scottish service that has been in use for many years.

As we are in the hills most days during the winter and are consistently in a position to evaluate the danger, this safety information will be made available to all interested parties through our Snow, Avalanche and Mountain Conditions forum and also regularly post mountain conditions and trip reports on our News Site. This service is in operation from mid-December each year and will be updated as and when conditions materially change. We welcome any comments or remarks about the conditions.

Read more about the Avalanche risks

Are there altitude related problems in the Sierra Nevada?

We have, in reality, had very few instances where AMS has resulted in having to bring somebody down to a lower level. When that has been the case, they have recovered immediately on getting to lower ground and have had no further problems.

These mountains have much high ground over 3000m, but provided that the advice above is followed, ie go slow, then the altitude effects are lessened considerably. On countless occasions we have parked the car at 2500m (having driven up in 1hr from 650m!) and someone has gone off too quick. It is very tempting! Take it very easy, a snails pace, especially for the first 30 minutes after leaving the car.

We find that in that time our body adjusts better and we can then continue a little more rapidly. However, we live and train here in these mountains. Those coming straight in from sea level will find it harder.

Read more about Altitude related problems in the Sierra Nevada