Madrid´s highest peak is an easy (very very easy one)
Best thing to do in peñalara is climbing the little but nice ice waterfalls in winter.
Yerterday afternoon I've been on Peñalara again. Solo climb has gone quick and direct from Puerto de Cotos to Dos Hermanas Menor. I've done some photos along the route. It was warm first but once on Dos Hermanas Menor temperature went down. Then I ascended Dos Hermanas Mayor. I pushed forward to Peñalara (1 h 20') where I took my time having lunch, meanwhile an airplane flew over SW-NW slopes. Descent was by the same route up to the ancient Area 2.100, then I descended along the old ski run and the forest trail. Finally I followed PR 15 to Puerto de Cotos where I joined my parents. They had gone to Laguna Grande and came back to the car where they were waiting me. Tmin = 12 ºC with moderate winds.
2 h 50' ago I've just came from Peñalara. When I reached Puerto de Cotos by car it started to hail so I waited some minutes in the car. 5' after start it was raining, just a reminiscence of the storm, soon it stopped and I reached Dos Hermanas Menor directly. I hiked to Dos Hermanas Mayor when I had a snack. Then I went in search of snow to N face of Peñalara (a week ago I saw two snow patches there), the snow has just melted on Sierra de Guadarrama. Finally I reached Peñalara, the wind was strong (60-80 Km / h) and T = 17 ºC. I've follow PR3 to Risco de los Claveles. Descent was via Lagunas de Peñalara following PR15, last 20' I've hiked wearing my Petzl Zoom.
On monday I repeated Peñalara for the umpteenth time. I hiked first through the right pine wood and then went towards Laguna de Peñalara. It snowed on weekend so pines droped snow and water under the bright sun. Soon I reached the right moraine of the ancient glacier that formed Circo (hoya) de Peñalara, ascended it by scramble and enjoyed lunch over that scenery while I looked for the route I'll going to climb. I saw many gullies or couloirs but I thought they became very steep at their upper sections. Also they were a little far away and the snow was too soft and existed a little risk of avalanche. So I decided to continue ascending there by the direct route. I climbed a narrow mixed gully-crack 45º (with some short passages of 55-60º) and covered by rotten snow. Once I had to leave the route because of slippery wet even steep rocks. Then I passed a more soft section and reached the S shoulder. The summit was a mere anecdote, then a curious anecdote happened: when I was on the bench mark, an helicopter appeared, I shaked my arm to greet the pilot and then the heli landed on a little col between the summit and a rocky outcrop to the North. I faced about and the helicopter took off, that pilot didn't know the international signal code. I continued to Risco de los Claveles then, a little but sharp peak. I placed my backpack on the ground and climbed the narrow ridge to its summit. Then I turned to Peñalara, on descent I got astonished with the formed cornice at the col between Peñalara and Dos Hermanas Mayor. Climbed this one, hiked to Dos Hermanas Menor and Peña Cítores, rested a little and descended to Puerto de Cotos, where I started. Total: 6 hours walking on sometimes half -shank snow and only 3 persons and an helicopter seen.
I have no certainty of how I reached first the summit of Peñalara. It must have been by the normal route (Dos Hermanas) on the early 80s. Surely I went up first on the older chairs wich finished at the today missing snack bar. What I just know is when I climbed last time. This Winter I started walking (with my new boots) at height 1.585 m of M-604 road (a sharp curve at Km 37 more or less). I went almost directly towards Laguna Grande crossing the pinewood. I wore crampons due to the hardness of the snow (early February had cold nights on Sierra de Guadarrama), walked to the foot of the E face. Lunch meanwhile I looked for somewhere to climb directly. Because I had no reliance on that face I continued walking between it and Cinco Lagunas, when I saw a good direct route to the summit. I started climbing with piolet and a telescopic stick. Near the summit I looked left and saw the summit of Peñalara: I was climbing the SE face of Risco de los Claveles. I pushed forward crossing a steep and mixed section, reached Risco de los Claveles (2.387 m = 7.831 ft) and turned left to Peñalara, first along the narrow ridge that links both. Lone on the icy summit of Peñalara at twilight I descended quickly, climbed both Dos Hermanas (2.285 m = 7.496 ft and 2.268 m = 7.440 ft) and arrived with my torch almost directly to the car.