Rising more than 1200 meters over the crowded Costa del Sol, La Concha (the shell) peak is a characteristic mountain calling to those ones more interested in the heights and bare rocks than in sandy beaches and luxury lifestyle of the holidays resorts and golf clubs of Marbella. This massive block of limestone is the first one of an interesting group of ‘sierras’ which extends from the Mediterranean Sea coast towards the interior lands of Andalucía.
La Concha is one of the tops of Sierra Blanca, a mountain group just outside the limits of the Natural Park of Sierra de las Nieves. Nevertheless, due to its natural and biological interest, it belongs to the protection area of the UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve since 1995. The Natural Park of Sierra de las Nieves extends itself beyond the peaks of Sierra Blanca, and it has its ‘roof’ at the Torrecilla mountain, with 1919 meters. There are many other peaks in the Natural Park rising over the 1400 meters. The ‘bottom’ of the Park is, definitely, the world wide known ‘GESM’ abyss, which descends 1074 meters into the earth. But, leaving aside abysses and mountains, the real main character of these Sierras is a very special kind of three discovered in 1837: the Abies Pinsapo, an endemic short of fir three of the Mediterranean which grows on the slopes of these mountains.
Despite its modest height, La Concha peak is a rough mountain with exposed ridges, vertical walls and a rocky summit, which offers many interesting routes to the more demanding mountain walker. Definitely, this is a much more adventurous and unknown Costa del Sol than the one of the brochures.
When travelling by plane the nearest airport is Málaga, at 70 km (tel. nr.: +34 952 048804). Sevilla airport could be an option too since it is 180 km away from the area.
The nearest train station is the one of the city of Ronda, 60 km away from the mountain (tel. nr. RENFE : +34 952 871673). Málaga has train station too (tel. nr. RENFE: +34 952 360202).
There are two bus companies that could be useful: ‘Autobuses Portillo’, which connect the city of Ronda with San Pedro de Alcántara, at the coast, and Marbella. The other company is known as ‘Los Amarillos’ which connects Sevilla with Málaga through the Costa del Sol (Marbella).The telephone of the bus station of Ronda is: +34 952 872262. In Málaga the telephone for the bus is: +34 952 350061.
There are three main starting points for the climbing of La Concha peak:
1. The small mountain village of Istán, at the NW of the peak and at approximately 300 meters high.
2. The city of Marbella itself, next to the sea.
3. The ‘Refugio de Juanar’, a small hotel situated within the borders of the natural park in an area of natural beauty at aprox. 760 meters high.
Marbella can be easily reached from Málaga airport by bus (‘Portillo’, bus nr. 310 Airport-Marbella Direct 45' and E 3,90, or 'Los Amarillos’), taxi or private vehicle (road N-340). If you come from Ronda or San Pedro de Alcántara the same road N-340 will bring you to Marbella from the west, but Ronda-San Pedro is communicated with the road A-473. Bus companies are covering this route as well.
Istán is a short taxi trip from Marbella or, with a certain connexion of the bus company ‘Portillo’, from Marbella (road MA-427).
To reach the ‘Refugio del Juanar’ the easier is the private car or a taxi. In the km nr. 27 of the road A-355, which connects Marbella with Ojén and Monda, there is a deviation to the west to a small mountain road (MA-469) wich ends at the mountain lodge/hotel of ‘El Juanar’.
The mountain is part of the UNESCO Biological Reserve but no special permit is needed to climb it. Take care of natural species and animals.
Winter is the best time to enjoy the pleasure of climbing La Concha. The winter is very soft here due to the proximity of the sea and the southern climate and we will not have to fight against extreme cold fronts, storms and big snow fall.
If climbed from middle May to end September one should be prepared to very high temperatures of more than 35 grades Celsius at midday, and a high UV radiation. A big water supply, and sun protection (cap, sunglasses, and sun cream are very recommended).
Nevertheless, camping at this area is forbidden. Making fires is absolutely unthinkable. Trash should not been left behind, but taken back home.
The mountain hotel of 'Refugio del Juanar' offers a luxury place to stay the night or like a base for different excursions in the Natural Park. It was an old mountain hut build by the Larios family, a well known family from Málaga, and it was used as a base for hunting in the area. The king Alfonso XIII of Spain and the french politician Charles de Gaulle have been sleeping in this place.
You can find some kind of mapping of the area at a 1:50.000 scale done by the ´Servicio Geográfico del Ejército´ (Geographic Services of the -spanish- Army). It is, therefore, a Militar Map of Spain (´Mapa Militar de España´). The page nr. is 15-45 (1065), named ¨MARBELLA¨.
The weather is quite good in this area of the country. Nevertheless, I always advise to check the weather before starting your trip. The final stonny ridge can be tricky when wet. Rain can occur from november till march. Here are some sites for the weather forecast:
MeteoGRID a very complete page (in Spanish) which offers a forecast for the whole region, or even for each province separately.
Weather Forecast for the parks of Andalucía is a very informative page (in Spanish) with a 10 days forecast for all the National and Natural Parks. Check the link to 'Sierra de las Nieves' Natural Park.
INM is the page of the National Meteorological Services of Spain. It is the source of many other weather sites in the internet, press and TV news.