Little known to foreigners, and only a handful of locals, there is a way to cross the steep, seemingly impossible north and north west faces of both Mulhacen and Alcazaba in Spain’s Sierra Nevada mountains. These ways facilitate the crossing from the Col de Ciervo to Siete Lagunas and make the ascent of Alcazaba achieveable in a long day from above the ski centre at the Hoya de la Mora.
Vasar de Mulhacen
The key entry point to this path lies 100m uphill and eastwards from the Col de Ciervo on Mulhacen’s west ridge. At the next obvious break in the ridge lies a small cairn with a red circle on the nearby rocks. This marks the start of the path. The photo to the right is taken just below the starting point.
At this point take a deep breath! The way looks very scary indeed, A narrow path winds it’s way along a natural shelf or rake running halfway up the north face. There is vertical ground above and below. The path is loose so take care. Those passing this way will need a head for heights but their is no real scrambling of note.
We always wear helmets here as the whole of the north face is shattered and there might be a slight risk of stonefall. Half way along the shelf the way broadens but the going is hardly less dramatic. A rise up the screes at the end leads us to the Puntal de Siete Lagunas. Here we can access either the valley of Siete Lagunas itself or contour round and climb the scree couloir to gain the plateau leading to the summit of Alcazaba.
Needless to say, don’t do this in winter, if iced up, in mist or in bad weather, unless you are suitably experienced and have the necessary equipment and knowledge of how to use it.
Gran Vasar de Alcazaba
This is of similar vein to the Vasar de Mulhacen. A shelf leads from near the Puntal de El Goteron rightwards. This too leads over steep ground, but the exposure is not felt as much as that on Mulhacen. The route leads to the Laguna de la Mosca, where a short climb brings one out at the Col de Ciervo.
This is an easier route and much used in winter by climbers accessing the climbs on Alcazaba NW face.