In the north-east corner of the Granada province and half an hour to the north of Huescar, the south ridge of La Sagra is advertised as one of the best scrambling routes in Andalucía. Last week Felipe Nieto and I decided to take a look.
The approach road from Huescar is in good condition and the final stretch through the pine forest has recently been re-graded for ordinary road cars. We parked just west of the gate into the hunting area and continued up the track on foot. Turning off the track to the left, we climbed over loose ground into a rocky gully. A pile of large chock stones appears to bar the way but there is sufficient room between them to squeeze through.
An interesting start to the route
From here we clambered up more loose ground following the stone cairns and our GPS route. We passed down and to the left of an impressive natural rock arch and after crossing some open ground, we reached the base of the ridge proper.
Descending past the rock arch
The initial section of the ridge starts with a bolted 10m climb requiring a rope but there are good hand and foot holds.
The initial bolted section
From here the route follows the ridge line across some very exposed sections, most of which are unavoidable. The rock is generally good but as always, each hold should be checked before committing to a move.
Exposed situations mean great views!
There is no surface water on the ridge but there is a fair amount of vegetation which in places means scrambling over and around tree branches.
The second half of the ridge
There are three abseils (rapels) on the route, all of which are bolted and present no problems. The longest is around 20m. After the second abseil there is a particularly exposed rock step to negotiate and I didn't hesitate to ask for the rope. Felipe led and belayed me from the rock spike at the top and from there we moved together on the rope until we reached (for me!) more manageable terrain.
Felipe on the final abseil
At the end of the route there is the option to walk onto the summit of La Sagra, an out and return of another two hours or so. However, it was a warm day and we were almost out of water so we picked up the path which descends steeply through the forest to the access track and returned to the car.
GPS track of the route
My GPS logged a route length of 6.9km, a total ascent of 534m and a time of 6 hours 20 minutes.
The ridge itself is just over 2km long and provides committed and sustained scrambling, some of which is at the top end of grade 3S. However, with a good head for heights and experience of abseiling you are assured an enjoyable traverse of this fabulous ridge.
Ian Tupman May 2016