Almanzor in a daySo for our first adventure since arriving in Spain my girlfriend and I decided to seek out the highest mountain in the Systema Central, Spain´s central mountain range. At 2592m elevation, Almanzor can be done in a single day from Madrid.
Our day began at 5:30am when we left madrid. The drive took us over and through mountains and down winding roads through some of the most charming Spanish countryside I´ve seen. After a long narrow road into Parque Regional de la Sierra de Gredos we were as close as we could go by car, El Platforma de Gredos. We parked, put on our boots and by 8:00 had started out on foot.
The walk from the platforma to Refugio Elola is posted as 2h30m. We managed it in 2 hours flat. It took us through pastures dotted with grazing horses and cows, past a couple herds of Ibex, over a big ridge and into el Circo de Gredos, the most prominent ring of granite spires in the Gredos
From the ridge we saw Almanzor to the south and the golden planes of Avila to the north. Another hour back down and we were at el Laguna Grande and Refugio Elola. At the hut they sell ice cold coke and beer. I think it tastes better knowing that it was packed in on a mule.
After a food and water break we headed from Elola up towards the summit. From our research and the word of other climbers, it would take 2h30m. Like much of central Spain, most of the climbing was grueling climbs up steep boulder fields. We took our time and followed in the footsteps of other climbers to avoid twisting an ankle or worse. Eventually we reached Portilla Del Crampon, a north-facing chimney of steep boulder climbing that wound up to a ridge just below the summit. We were hoping there would be snow and we could climb with crampons but it was clear due to the dry winter. When you near the summit, every few steps you get a better view than before. This is where it got a bit hairy. You have to go around the back side of the last spire and do some challenging and highly exposed scrambling to reach the summit which is a single boulder about two meters across. We made it up, snapped a few pictures and got the hell out of there.
I won´t bore you with the details, but the way back down was essentially what you just read bit backwards. The way up is always hard on your heart and lungs while the way down is hard on your knees and ankles. We got back to Elola, had a snack and a cold drink and walked back out to the platforma.
As it always is in Spain, climbing and trekking is half for the love of the mountains and half for the people you meet. We met three nameless climbers who kept our minds off our legs with their humour. Then there was Charles who again distracted us with his travel stories from around the world. We were even forced to accept a gift of bread and cheese from some climbers having beers in the parking lot. They said it was ¨special¨ but we still don´t know why.
After the drive back to Madrid our legs were aching and the ramp in the parking garage felt like a mountain of its own. It was a hugely rewarding trip that challenged us physically and mentally but we had help along the way. Hopefully this was a good warmup for ANETO!!!
Here´s a link to the video: