|Mulhacen from Hoya del
|Estimated net time||7-8 hours|
Most of the route is hiked on mountain road and path. Expect snow close to the summit.
|Drinking water||Some running water while there is still snow in the mountain.|
|GSM coverage||Coverage throughout the route (May 2010).|
|Parking||Room for many cars at car park by trail head.|
|Start height||2145 metres|
|Vertical metres||1360 metres for the roundtrip.|
|Trip distance||23.1 km|
Locate the village Orgiva, in the south-west corner of Sierra Nevada, approximately 20 km north of Motril. Orgiva is situated on road A-348. On the western outskirts of Orgiva you will find signs for road A-4132, Carataunas and Trevelez. Drive this road 15.8 km from road A-348, and then turn left towards Capileira. Drive another 8.5 km and fork left towards Hoya del Portillo. Drive the reminding 6.6 km on the bumpy road to the car park at Hoya del Portillo. Park here.
Start walking by following the mountain road past the gate and through the forest. You can continue on this mountain road all the way up to Alto del Chorrillo, a little above 2700 metres, but this road zigzags upwards in a number of long traverses and is much longer than a more direct route. Instead you should turn left immediately after you get out of the forest, onto a very rough road going uphill. Continue uphill in a northern direction and aim for the ridge Prado Llano. Either walk along the ridge or slightly on its right (east) side. It is definitely an option to follow the mountain road running on the east side of the ridge.
When the ridge descends a little continue on the mountain road up to the right (east) side of the next small top, Alto del Chorrillo. Continue along the flat section and then fork right onto a path heading up the south ridge of Mulhacen. Proceed north all the way to the summit, which is marked by a concrete cairn.
Descend by reversing your ascent route.
15. May 2010
This Saturday was our second, and final, day of our short visit down to Sierra Nevada and Granada. The plan was that I should make an attempt at Mulhacen before our return drive to the Alicante area.
Based on the strong wind I had experienced at Sierra de Lujar the previous day, and the constant hammering during the night, I was a bit reluctant to take on Mulhacen, but when the alarm clock woke me at 05:30 I decided to have a go, and by 05:50 I was in the car on my way up the mountain side, driving in the dark. When I got to the trail head at Hoya del Portillo a little before 7 it was just starting to get light, and after some careful packing of my back-pack I was on my way.
The hike along the mountain road through the initial forest gave me an easy start, and I was a bit optimistic as the wind here was moderate, and it remained relatively moderate also up along the Prado Llano ridge. Up here I overtook two other hikers, and since one of them spoke a little English we chatted for a couple of minutes. They told me they were heading for Mulhacen via the Caldera mountain hut, but also said they would regard my more direct route as a better option. I assume they wanted to go to the hut in order to have some food and rest before their attempt at the summit.
As I got up above Alto del Chorrillo at 2700 metres the wind started to be very strong and cold, and I decided to put on some more clothes; I added a thick jacket, replaced my thin hat with a proper woollen one, and added gloves and wind-proof mittens. Unfortunately I hadn't brought any thicker socks, and this gave me some issues higher up, but by constantly curling and stretching my toes I just managed to keep them warm enough.
The final 600 vertical metres was done almost entirely on snow, but the snow was nice and firm without any ice, so made for easy hiking. The wind was a bigger problem, but I was well protected by wind-proof and sun glasses, and even an extra buff covering my face, so no danger of getting cold. By the time I got close to the summit I was starting to feel pretty exhausted, which shouldn't have surprised me given the fact that I had kept an fair pace, and had allowed myself close to zero acclimatisation by ascending more than 3000 metres in four hours, including the drive up from Orgiva.
At the summit there were some icy patches, but the concrete cairn and its foundation were free of ice, which is just as well given the very strong wind. It was actually so windy that I was a bit scared of being blown off the cairn foundation, so I soon went back down on safe ground. I decided to descend a little before diving into my back-pack for some light snack, but with the strong wind, now as tail wind, made me run down the snow field all the way to below 3000 metres before deciding to have a chocolate and some dried fruits. From here on it was some more easy running.
When I re-joined the mountain road by Alto del Chorrillo I started to meet other
hikers, including a group of close to ten persons. All the persons I met seemed
to be Spanish, enjoying hiking in a very fine area. Back at the car, after five
hours in the mountains, I immediately hit the road and the close to one hour
drive back down to the valley. Here I picked up the rest of the family before a
4½ hours drive back to Alicante. But very happy to have bagged my highest
mountain to date.