North face, from puerto de Cotos

North face, from puerto de Cotos

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 40.79575°N / 3.94169°W
Additional Information Route Type: Ice Climbing
Seasons Season: Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: PD
Sign the Climber's Log


Cabezas de Hierro presents some little corridors in its north face, where you can practise snow/ice climbing in the coldest months (november to april). Ice cascade climbers will find here a good opotunity in a 30 meters cascade that takes form in the base of that corridors. It’s important to remark that lowest temperatures in Sierra de Guadarrama take place specially in january and february.
Arriving to the north face

Getting There

Cabeza de Hierro Mayor, north face
To get to this corridors (and to the ice cascade too) the route is the same, and starts in puerto de Cotos (a 1.830 meters high mountain pass). See the main page to more details.

Route Description

Climbing  tubo norte  in Cabeza de Hierro Mayor
Take the road that get to Valdesquí ski-resort. Walking by its right side you have a path and it’s not neccesary to tread the asphalt.
Less than 1 kilometer away, you’ll see (left) a barrier to avoid the pass to cars. Here starts a track that guide to a visible meadow. The path gets at the nearby Pingarrón hut (refugio del Pingarrón) in 5 minutes, located in the top of the hill and surrounded by pines. From here you have a spectacular view to Cabezas de Hierro (north face) and the huge pinewoods (Pinus sylvestris) that cover the Lozoya valley.
Follow the path that turns right, going down to a close stream (arroyo de las Guarramillas) and cross it by a wood bridge. There are several wood stakes that mark the way (painted in blue and yellow colours). The path enters into the pinewood and go up, skirting a forested slope that separates the aforementioned stream from another one (arroyo de las Cerradillas). The path turn right in the top of this hill and cross over the pinewood. Those large pines are the trees that ascends higher in Sierra de Guadarrama (near to 2.200 meters high).
There is a junction further on; the marked path continues going down on the left; however, we’ll take another path (marked with stone cairns and some yellow points in the trees) on the right. This path skirts through the pinewood, passing close to several big pines, some of them fallen. It’s neccesary crossing some little streams before leaving the pinewood, getting to a meadow that presents remains of an old sheepfold (a stone wall). Someone wrote a “mantra” in a vertical timber (see photo).
From this point, the path is more difficult to follow; it continues skirting (east) the northwest face of Cabeza de Hierro Menor. It’s the forest limit and this zone is named “Las Cerradillas” in the maps. The rocks cover the landscape and only a bush (a kind of juniper, “enebro rastrero” or Juniperus communis subs. alpina) dye in green those greyish rocks.
Before reaching the arroyo de las Cerradillas’s eastern affluent, that emerges in the col between the two summits of Cabezas de Hierro and forms a gorge, we’ll get to an amazing viewpoint from that we’ll see the neighbourings corridors and the ice cascade of the north face of Cabeza de Hierro Mayor.
The slope increases in the base of those corridors. The central (“Tubo norte”) continues straight up, leaving the ice cascade on the right (see sketch). The snow or ice conditions can change even in the same day (rise early is important, specially at the end of winter). The incline can reach 40º. 200 meters forward the slope declines and the top appears.
There is a bench mark in the top. To the north is visible Peñalara (2.430 m.) and Claveles (2.390 m.), the highest tops in Sierra de Guadarrama; to the east, the broad ridge where is situated Cabezas de Hierro (named “Cuerda Larga”) continues to Asómate de Hoyos (2.230 m.) and La Najarra (2.108 m.); to the west, the ridge continues to the nearby Cabeza de Hierro Menor (2.365 m.), Valdemartín (2.278 m.) and Alto de Guarramillas (2.262 m.), with a TV booster station that looks like a space rocket; finally, to the south, the nearby Pedriza (see the page of Diego Sahagún) with its fantastic granitic rocks.

Essential Gear

Climbing the ice cascade
An Ice-axe and crampons are esential to climb the corridors in north face of Cabezas de Hierro. To people without experience in ice/snow climbing, a rope can be useful (always with an experienced partner).
To climb the ice cascade, two technical ice-axes, crampons, rope, harness, helmet and ice screws are esentials.


The map edited by Editorial Alpina, scale 1:25.000 is one of the best.
Visit the photo gallery to see the sketches of the north face of Cabezas de Hierro.



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.