Almanzor, take two

This year we decided to go back for Almanzor, mountain a few friends and I attempted to climb a year ago. A snowy April in the Circo de Gredos, home to Almanzor, the Laguna Grande, and other beautiful rocky pinnacles, remains one of my favorite spots to be in all of Spain. And, I repeat, it’s just over two hours from Madrid.

Anyway, this year we were quite a large group of friends of friends and ex-lovers and so on: thirteen in all who walked up to the refugio Saturday afternoon. Fewer departed for the big peak early Sunday — in more snow and less water than last year — and in all we were seven who reached the narrow Portilla del Crampón, and stood there for a while in the whipping wind and rapidly increasing fog, surveying the ice-covered rock and not finding the anchor for the rope we wanted to mount. Below, on the other side of this frighteningly narrow “pass of the crampon,” the canales oscuras (dark channels) yawned their gaping mouths. With the deteriorating weather conditions, the nasty-looking ice, and pocas ganas to spend a while mounting the whole set-up to make sure we didn’t fall down into said depths, we decided to head down the very snowy ladder we had climbed.

To be honest, I was still on a high from having overcome last year’s fear and actually making it to the pass. The view (on both sides) was enough to leave you breathless, and looking down at what we’d come up, I wasn’t sure how we had done it, or how we would descend it. But we did. I don’t know if we’ll ever make the spring snow ascent of Almanzor, but I wouldn’t be opposed to keep trying.

6 Responses to “Almanzor, take two”

  1. 1 graeme Tuesday, 15 April, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    You’re braver than I am, a couple of those pictures are enough to give me vertigo. I usually draw the line at anything that requires special equipment and I feel nervous on snowy slopes, apart from the vertigo problem I once went down part of a snow field in the Pyrenees much faster than you are supposed to and was glad I had my baston to stop the slide. I’m sure its really good to be on the top, but I’m not sure I would try it in these conditions.

  2. 2 Katie Tuesday, 15 April, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    It’s true, winter mountain expeditions aren’t for everyone. But this year, having overcome some of my fear of heights and snowy slopes since last year, was truly exhilarating. One member of our party also had an unplanned slide down the steepest part of the climb and was pretty thoroughly rattled. You do need to have had a bit of practice with the ice ax and crampons, because if used properly they will keep you on the mountain.

    And a note about the equipment: we don’t own any of it (well some of us did). A friend discovered that the Junta Municipal de Vallecas (and also Vicalvaro) will lend it to you for free if you leave a fianza.

  3. 4 MamaDuck Sunday, 21 September, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Here’s one for you, I think! I came across a photo in a Deuter catalogue and pretty well fell out of my comfortably upholstered chair. I can’t find that particular pic on line, but take a look at this – and if you want anymore, do a Google image searrch. Phwooooorrrr!!!!

  1. 1 El Midi « España Profunda Trackback on Wednesday, 14 September, 2011 at 7:15 am
  2. 2 Gredos « España Profunda Trackback on Thursday, 13 September, 2012 at 9:06 pm
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