Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Not a facile pointy mountain

Pena Montanesa, Sierra Ferrara, Iberian prominence number 65, 2291m P827, Major
N42.49086 E0.19927

La Cowllada
Not sure why I did not drive up the unpaved road to La Collada N42.50016 E0.20568 (1532m)  where there is parking space for several cars - it would have saved quite some time and effort. However, I started from the road just outside the small pueblo of Ceresa at N42.50616 E.0.17712. There are sometimes waymarked, sometimes not waymarked short cuts that avoid having to follow all the zigzags in the pista. I took some of the shortcuts others I eschewed.

JMH describes this ascent as ‘facil’ i.e. simple, easy. Fine, up to La Collada I am in full agreement. The start of the next bit around to the back of the mountain is also a simple walk along a cow path through the trees. However, when the path reaches a seemingly endless stone field up the south side I cannot concur with his judgement. Coming down it is fine if you are happy with scree running – going up though is a slog that would put off many a walker.

How glad I was to finally reach the ridge at a collado at N42.48909 E0.20085 (2143m).  Even from here to the summit although a lot easier, I would still argue that it is not a stroll in the park – it is rocky scrappy with a little scrambling needed. The summit is rocky and marked with a metal triangular thingy next to what looks like the base of a missing trig point.

The views were great across to the, by now, cloud covered high Pirineos.
From the summit I could see a path that cut across the other lower summit of the Sierra Ferrara, Pena Foratata. I thought for a while that maybe I had come up the wrong way and that I should have gone around the back of Pena Foratata before ascending. Without a map I had no idea and I was not in the mood for going to have a look – it would have been a good hour’s walk to go and see and then return if I was mistaken.
PC Montanesa's helmet
So I used my ascent route as the descent route although I took full advantage of the scree run that goes down the centre of the stone field. In bits the scree was quite good, in other bits it was spent. As I got lower I was glad that I had not tried out the other path – I could see that there is a long ridge that runs south-east from Pena Foratata which blocks the way. I had seen the ridge on the way up, but had not registered its significance. I had ascended the right way, it is just not a ‘facil’ way.
When I got back to the grazing cows at La Collada, a Spanish family drove by and offered me a lift down to the start – I accepted with deep gratitude. They are building a summer retreat somewhere down the other side of the Sierra.
11.56km 1467m total ascent

Overnight by the Rio Cinca near Lafortunada – in another heavy thunderstorm. I am beginning to wonder if there is ever a summer’s day when there is no thunder and lightning in Los Pirineos.

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