Posts Tagged 'mountains'


A sampler of Spanish coast and mountains from this fall’s trips:

couldn't get enough of that with the mar de nubes behind it

September in the Picos de Europa, with a stunning view of el Naranjo de Bulnes.


October on the Asturian coast after another good hike in Picos


and a week later further east to Cantabria, also gorgeous.

doble salto

November brought an autumnal hike in the Sierra de la Demanda, with a stop at the cascadas de Altuzarra.

Why I don’t tire of Asturias

Mountains: The central massif and the Naranjo de Bulnes from the Puerto de Pandébano in Picos de Europa.

Food: Fabada asturiana. And that’s not to fill this post with pictures of everything we ate.

Coast: Playa de Torimbia, west of Llanes.

These photos are from a four-day trip we took to Asturias at the beginning of the month.


End of summer, return to Madrid and a strong desire to get out into the hills. Where to go? Somewhere a little less populated and a little more rugged than Madrid’s sierra, yet not far enough to have to spend a whole weekend there. Gredos fits the bill perfectly time and time again. Just over two hours from Madrid with enough mountains and pueblos to keep you busy for quite a while. I’ve been going for five years and still haven’t tired of it.

Lately we’ve done long day hikes (10+ hours) by leaving Madrid Friday afternoon, camping for the night, hiking all Saturday, and returning late Saturday night. Here’s the start of the last one, a traverse from Bohoyo to the Plataforma via an ascent of La Galana.

I love those ferns. Sometimes central Spain lacks in vegetation, but those rock. Lakes also rock, and Gredos has some pretty nice looking ones, like Cinco Lagunas.

Rocks are everywhere and, once you get up high enough, there are views that don’t disappoint,

like a different angle on a peak you know well.

It’s always satisfying to admire the peak you’ve just climbed, more so if you’ve done it without any other people around.

As the sun sinks lower you get a close-up view of the local wildlife, clearly not bothered by the presence of the two-legged species.

Words and pictures

Life has been busy and blogging hasn’t been a priority lately. Good things have been happening, though. Here’s a taste of the past few months, in which I’ve

rediscovered the complete awesomeness of Asturias;

fallen in love all over again with Lisboa;

still been bike commuting and gotten the bici a little fame;

uncovered the mystery that is Andorra;

and, in pursuit of more snow, been to Gredos and back in a day.

I’ve also been randomly working on a map of my favorite spots in Madrid. Enjoy!

Mountains, part II

The Pyrenees are so big and have played such an important part in my Spanish mountain education that they deserve their own post. I’ve spent a lot of time in this great mountain range, crossing between France and Spain, meeting all sorts of livestock and humans in the hills and valleys along the way. Here’s a bit of a tour from west to east, along the length of the Pyrenees that I’ve walked.

This summer my sister and I walked part of the HRP through the Navarran Pyrenees, where the impressive Pic d’Orhy was our first obstacle.

Mornings in the Pyrenees are magic. Especially when you’re camped next to a spring, like we were at the Source de Marmitou, just over the French border near Lescun.

My first trip to the Pyrenees, in 2007, led us to the spectacular Ibón de Acherito.

I’ve gazed upon the Midi d’Ossau from many angles and it’s striking any way you look at it. This summer we saw it from the Ibones de Anayet, just west of the Formigal ski station.

Crossing the rocks pictured here with no trail to speak of and high above the valley below was frightening and exhilarating,

but the view from the pass we reached (the impressively steep and narrow Port du Lavedan) over the Ibones de Arriel and south into Spain was definitely worth it.

Near the Col de la Fache, below the pyramid-shaped Grande Fache (Gran Facha), you can find snow and ice above a crystal clear ibon well into August.

The Gran Facha is a 350-meter exposed scramble from the col to the top. The views from the summit are amazing, though at the time I was concerned about making it down safely.

Vignemale is probably the coolest mountain I’ve seen in the Pyrenees. The day we were there in August 2010 there had been a helicopter hovering nearby. ‘Dropping food off at the hut?’ we asked a park employee. No, he explained grimly. It was looking for the body of a climber who had fallen into a crevasse in April.

The views from Monte Perdido are spectacular: this is the Lago Helado and the Cilindro (and the procession of people heading up the mountain).

And here’s Perdido itself, part of one of the two Spanish national parks in the Pyrenees, Ordesa.

Without cows, sheep, and shepherds the Pyrenees wouldn’t be the Pyrenees. This is the Cirque d’Estaubé, just east of Gavarnie.

The other Spanish national park in the Pyrenees is Aigüestortes, home to the eerie peaks of Els Encantats.

From Mont Roig, a peak in Catalunya near the end of our walk on the HRP two summers ago, we had this view back at the snow-covered mountains of Maladeta Massif, many kilometers away.

This journey is to be continued.

Mountains, part I

I don’t post about all the mountain adventures I go on. That would be a very time-consuming activity. Though I suppose thinking about all the posts I would write is also fairly time-consuming. I’ve decided to just give a bit of a photographic tour of Spain’s amazing mountains. Here goes:

Madrid’s got some pretty great mountains just an hour from the city center. Here’s one from my first trip to la Pedriza way back in January 2006.

I always go back to la Pedriza. This year I was there just after a snowfall.

Peñalara is Madrid’s highest peak and this year we attacked it from the north, and found some good ice near the summit after trudging through lots of deep snow.

I still haven’t walked the entire cuerda larga, but I like taking pictures of it. It’s at its best when it’s snow covered.

Summer is a good time to get to Madrid’s sierra, too, though. Too bad swimming in the lakes on Peñalara is totally prohibited.

Mountains get a little wilder to the west of Madrid. Gredos is pretty stunning and is home to the highest peak in the Sistema Central. I don’t get tired of the view of the cirque, with Almanzor standing tall in the middle.

Close to the summit of Almanzor you get to places that look like this, overlooking the so-called canales oscuras.

Rarely have I been so grateful for the sunrise as I was on this morning in a valley in Gredos where we’d had some problems the day before.

To the east of Madrid, the mountains aren’t too shabby either. The view from Ocejón over Guadalajara is pretty nice.

And in winter the mountains there are a lot of fun, too.

The Basque Country has got some nice peaks

as does the oft-overlooked Montaña Palentina. Beware of hunters, though.

Just north of where that photo was taken, you come across the spectacularly sculpted Picos de Europa.

And the Pyrenees? Oh yes. They’re coming. In their own post.

A walk in the woods

Having a day off of work on Monday is a joy. It’s two-fold if it’s also your birthday. And if it’s not a national holiday, triple that happiness.

A friend and I took advantage of a day when most people were working or at school to venture up to the sierra on the train and have an adventure. We were greeted by rapidly descending snowflakes, wind, and fog at Puerto de Navacerrada and, after a bit of consultation, decided that a walk would be our best option. We took the Camino Schmidt through the frozen pines in blissful snowy solitude and carefully descended a sometimes icy path to Cercedilla, where we caught the train back to Madrid.

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