Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Two little somethings for the weekend


Because I did not fancy bagging Mulhacen on a crowded weekend day I decided to separate my two attempts by bagging two other Majors, south of the Sierra Nevada.
The first of these is called Morron de Marine (sailor’s nose?). It didn’t look a nose and I am not sure that it would have been the most obvious choice as a navigational aid for sailors on the Mediterranean. It is a Major, 2247m high and with a prominence of P1303 is the eighth most prominent mountain in la peninsula Iberica/mainland Spain.
I didn’t have a map, however I had read somewhere that it was possible to drive up quite close to the summit from a small village called Castala. When you enter the Parcue Nature de Castala at N36.88269 W2.92773 there is a choice of roads – both lead to the same carpark at N36.88450 W2.92183 (747m). There then followed 27 kilometres of rough dusty potholed road. If you are going to use this route, note there is a right turn at N36.89614 W2.92799 (906m) and a left turn at N36.90548 W2.90361. I then made the ‘error’ of turning left at N36.89576 W2.86420 (1852m) and using the trck that seemed to head more directly to the summit. It wasn’t a real error – I had had enough of driving and wanted to go for a walk. If I had carried straight on at the above reference I would have come to the point near some masts at about N36.89282 W2.81492 from where the summit would have been (too) easy. And, anyway, my fuel gauge was registering rather low.
I parked near some trees at N36.89156 W2.84974 and made my own track up towards a collado – helped by the occasional sheep track and along what must have been cultivated terraces many years ago. I then headed up towards the main ridge where I met a track that started at the masts to the east. This took me to the first top where there were various ruins and then to a second top that had a trigpoint on the summit N36.90599 W2.83629 (2231m). It then became clear to me that this was not the true summit which was about 800 metres away.
True summit  in the background
Looking at the photo above of the true summit it has the appearance of a soft grassed English Sussex Down where you could saunter barefooted. However, in reality those clumps of green are more like the picture below and you would be picking thorns and bits of stone out of your bleeding feet for the rest of the evening. I walked in my Scarpa boots across the unforgiving terrain to the summit at N36.90294 W2.82692 and then tried to pick a more direct route back to the start.
Sparse vegetation
It occurred to me that there might be a better road up, than the one I used, to service the masts. My GPS showed there was an unpaved road heading down to Dalias, where there were a choice of petrol stations. So, thinking this might be the shorter way and hence less chance of running out of diesel I took the risk of trying an untried return route. What I did not realise is that there are two unpaved roads that lead to the summit and I was about to go down the old one. It was in a dreadful state and it got worse and worse – there was nowhere I could turn round and anyway I did not have enough fuel to risk having to go all the way back to Castala, where there wasn’t a petrol station showing on my GPS. Several times the motorhome tipped so far over that I thought I was going to end up on the side – I considered taking everything out of the top cupboards to balance the weight better. The front of the engine cover kept catching on embedded rocks and eventually the cover was half prised off. Thankfully, after several kilometres of this nightmare the track met up with the new track to the summit and my fear that I was going to arrive at a locked gate and being on the wrong side turned out to be unfounded. I was still a long way from Dalias, the new road was very dusty and the engine cover was scooping up stones and dust to create a bigger cloud of dust. And, it was too hot to close the windows and I did not want to use up scarce fuel using the air-conditioning. By the time I got to Dalias the inside of the van, the contents and me were covered in a thick layer of dust, that several days later is still not completely removed.
My advice to anyone wanting to get up to the masts by road is start from Dalias N36.83222 W2.87284, with a full fuel tank, close your windows and stick to the main track all the way. Or better, walk – the exercise will do you good. 
Morron de Marine
Overnight at the foot of Sierra de Lujari.

Sierra de Lujari I

The summit of Sierra de Lujari is another mast dominated summit and therefore has an unpaved mast road all the way. It leaves the A4131 road at N36.84053 W3.36648 (1119m) and there is a small parking area at a junction at N36.83799 W337207 where the mast road is the right turn. Within a few metres of the junction the road is in a bad state – that is as bad as it gets if you want to bag the summit as a drive-up. Me, I had had enough the previous day to risk filling the van with another layer of dust or cutting through the string I had used to temporarily fix the engine cover in place. The compromise solution was to cycle up and down – when I say cycle I mean, to a large extent, push the bike up the hill and then roll down afterwards with my arms aching and the brake pads wearing out as I try to stop my walking career coming to an end by careering over the unbarricaded edge of the road. Route finding is not an issue, there is only one way to go. There is the issue of which top is the true summit – I plump for the one with the trigpoint and the load of butterflies – but visited the others just to be sure.

It landed and stayed for ages
All over rural Spain are these signs indicating that it is private hunting ground – there must be millions of them – even on the mountaintops. Those black and white symbols are also prolific - apparently they mean the same thing..Presumably somewhere there is a hectare of land where the caza is publico - in the natural parks on certain days. Surely it would have been cheaper, easier and less unsightly to have a default rule that hunting is privado unless there is a sign to the contrary. Of course, my preferred solution would be for all hunting to be prohibido – that would mean no signs anywhere and I am sure the animals would prefer it, too.
Overnight in the Hoya del Portillo carpark.
Lujari from the north

1 comment: