The highest mountains are not necessarily always the best

The highest mountains sometimes fail to live up to their status, whilst some relatively unknown peaks turn out to be lesser in height only. Here in southern Spain’s Alpujarras, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, we have for some years now been enjoying the delights of an fascinating little peak called Giralda.

The peak of Giralda dwarfed by Cerro Caballo

The peak of Giralda dwarfed by Cerro Caballo

I learned my “height is not always the best” lesson in mountain truth on Aconcagua in the 1990’s. Base camp consisted of 500+ tents and no sanitary conditions. As I laboured breathlessly, buttocks clenched, up the biggest scree slope in the world, all around me were magnificent snow and ice clad andean peaks. What on earth was I doing on crowded Aconcagua?

The same can be said for those magnificent Patagonian spires of Cerro Torre and Mount Fitzroy. Hard to believe that these stupendous peaks are lower than the peak of Mulhacen? The same can be said for numerous peaks here in Spain’s Sierra Nevada. Muhacen (3482m) is boring from the south and many finer ascents can be had in solitude and dramatic surrounding. Try Juego de Bolos or Puntal de la Caldera. Trevenque, at 2079m, in the Cumbres Verdes is probably the finest summit of them all!

Scrambling on Giralda

Scrambling on Giralda

We have for some years been visiting the small peak of Giralda (1431m), situated between the villages of Albunuelas and Los Guajares in the range south west of Lanjaron. It is distinctly seen as a flat topped, volcano looking summit when viewed from the Granada to Motril motorway near Padul. But, why is it so good?

Quiet – in tens of visits here I have met nobody.

Maps – forget these. What military maps there are are complex and out of date. Best way is to have a look at Google Earth and try to identify the accesses. Otherwise just get out there and explore the area yourself.

Remote – It maybe only 10km from Lanjaron as the crow flies but you need a 4WD vehicle to access it. By it’s easiest, most direct, route of access it will take 50 minutes if you find the correct way through a series of interesting local tracks in the valley south of Pinos de Valle. By the longer routes from Los Guajares or Albunuelas expect to take one and a half hours.

Good solid rock

Good solid rock

Views – the peak is not attached to any other so great views exist in all directions. NE to the Cerro de Caballo is especially good when the snows of winter lie low down on it’s flanks. W and SW to that complex and interwoven network of forests and dry valleys leading onwards to Otivar and Almunecar.

The Peak – from all sides its lowly summit is only attained by a little handwork. In fact, there is some excellent scrambling to be had here and we have developed numerous lines on it’s rocky sides ranging from easy scrambling to difficult graded rock climbs. It is a great situation for introductory rock climbing and scrambling instruction.

The Rock – Unusually, quite solid and reliable for the most part.

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