“El Juanar” Route (NE slopes): The route, which starts at the popular mountain hotel known as ‘Refugio de Juanar’, at aprox. 750 meters, easily approaches over a dusty road and then climbs very softly over the, mainly, SE slopes of the NE ridge, and then over the final North-NE ridge (which shares with the “Istán” Route). This route is, physically, not very demanding and, because this, it is known as the “normal” route. Nevertheless, it passes through beautiful Mediterranean landscapes and gives the possibility to combine with some other ascends. It is very crowded on the weekends. This way takes 2 hours and 40 minutes and it makes 500 height-meters.
To reach this ´Refugio´ there is a road (MA-469) which starts at the main road from Marbella to Coín (road A-355). A road signpost indicates the deviation to the left when coming from the coastal city of Marbella. The deviation comes about one kilometre after passing the second (upper) exit to the village of Ojén, just when the road begins to descend after have been reaching a pass. The MA-469 bends 5 kilometres through the heart of the sierra and it ends at the Refugio de Juanar.
The route begins at the hotel of ‘Refugio de Juanar’. A dusty road goes up. Some hundreds of meters on this road there is a big fence closing the pass for vehicles. We continue the road with olive trees on both sides till we meet the first sign post that shows many routes (to Marbella, to Istán or to Ojén) but also our way to ‘La Concha’ (PR-A 168 La Concha 2h 10’). It is a path with yellow & white marks. Our dusty road to the right goes down, with a western bearing, following a fence to the left (this is the fence that closes an area to breed wild mountain goats) and more olive trees to the right. Ten minutes walking from the first sign post there is a second post in the forest of pines that indicates ‘Istán’ to the right (further through the pine trees’ forest) and ‘La Concha’ to the left, upwards and in western direction.
At certain moment we reach the fence of the natural reserve again and the, now a sandy path, climbs steeper across the NW slopes of the ‘Cruz del Juanar’, another known rock of the area, until we reach a saddle at 1.070 mtrs. high. Here is another post with yellow & white marks. The Mediterranean Sea and the city of Marbella are on sight. The rest of the route over the SE slopes of many treeless hills is also visible to the SW. From this point to the left –south east- starts one way up to the ‘Cruz del Juanar’ (1.181 mtrs). We continue the easy and levelled path to the SE passing through some lower Mediterranean bushlike vegetation until it reaches a wide and open second saddle, where, after a short descending, it continues over the NW side. The highest mountain of Málaga province, the ‘Torrecilla’ (1.919 mts.) is seen far to the NW as a big grey mountain block. Then, at this point we walk against a steep rocky face to the left and a messy gully down to the right. There is a nice part here which is known as ‘Salto del Lobo’ (‘Jump of the Wolf’). After ‘jumping’, a third saddle is reached and the path continues over the SE side of the ‘Cerro del Lastonar’, which actually is the highest point in the area (1.275 mtrs) but it is not climbed. A fourth saddle is reached. It has beautiful views over the final ridge and the summit block of ‘La Concha’. Here is the point were the route from ‘Istán’ comes to. A sign post indicates this: PR-A 135 Istán 2h 30’ (in descend). From that last saddle it is approximately 20 minutes over the ridge till the last rocky balcony of ‘La Concha’. Just after the saddle there is a small steeper part to the E but without difficulty the relatively easy ridge is reached. There is always the possibility to take an easier lower path to the less steep O side. The summit block has two tops. In a clear day one can see as far as Gibraltar, Tarifa and El-Biutz in Marocco. The 2000 high Rif mountains are seen to the south, just the African shore. To the west one can see the Costa del Sol till Málaga. To the north, ‘Torrecilla’ mountain and the rest of ‘Sierras’ of Ronda.
When going back over the same route it is interesting to ascend the sequence of tops that were just avoided in the way to ‘La Concha’. The first one in the way back, ‘Cerro Lastonar’, is the highest but the less interesting. The next rocky peak, with a big cliff to the NW, and that I will name ‘Cerro del Salto del Lobo’ because in its NW face is that famous ‘jump’ of the wolf (= lobo in Spanish), is nicer to climb. There are two short climbing passage of the 3rd grade (French system). Finally, on the last saddle at 1.070 meters (first one in ascend) there is a way up to the ‘Cruz del Juanar’, with a big iron cross on its top. This peak can be easily descended over the N slope and back to the valley.
Water, suncream, sunglasses and a pet. It can be very hot in the summer. In the winter wind from the northwest can be fresh, specially at the upper section of the ascend.