Sistema Central

Sistema Central

Page Type Page Type: Area/Range
Location Lat/Lon: 40.24940°N / 5.29850°E
Additional Information Elevation: 8504 ft / 2592 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Sistema or Cordillera Central is one of the most important ranges in the Iberian Peninsula. It is between the valleys of river Duero (north) and Tajo (south) and has a lengh of 500Km / 310Mi approximately. So it divides the Castilian Meseta in two, bordering on Sistema Ibérico to the east and the central part of Portugal to the west. Sistema Central is not a continous and inaccessible range. The fracture tectonics and the later morphological evolution created great and long blocks from the NE to the SW with wide valley between them.

Cordillera Central could be divided into four sections:

- Eastern Region; near Sistema Ibérico, it is formed by slates located between Medinaceli (Soria), Sigüenza and Segovia (both in Segovia). The most important ranges in the area are (always from E to W) Sierra Ministra, Sierra de Alto Rey, Sierra de Pela, Sierra de Ayllón and Sierra de la Puebla.

- East-Central Region; from Puerto de Somosierra (1.404 m) to the eastern mountains of Gredos, it's formed by granites and gneisses, the range is commonly known as Sierra de Guadarrama but it has five well defined sections (from E to W): Montes Carpetanos, Macizo de Peñalara, Sierra de la Cabrera, Sierra de Guadarrama, La Pedriza, Sierra de Malagón and Montañas Escurialenses.

- West-Central Region; it's a group of ranges separated by longitudinal valleys (Alberche, Valle Amblés, Tormes and Tietar) wich spread to the west. It is here where Sistema Central is highest, on Almanzor (2.592 m). The ranges are part of Sierra de Gredos and is divided in three minor parts; Macizo Occidental, Macizo Central and Macizo Oriental.

- Western Region; Sistema Central is less high here and the ranges are Sierra de la Peña de Francia, Sierra de Gata and Sierra da Estrela (Portugal).

Eastern Region

Sierra Ministra

It's a low range located between the provinces of Guadalajara and Soria and near Sigüenza. The highest top is Ministra (1.310 m) and the bases Torralba del Moral (Soria), the border between Soria and Segovia near that village, Funcaliente de Medinaceli and Bujarrabal (Guadalajara). Since a few years ago Sierra Ministra and Barranco del Río Dulce constitute a Natural Park with an area of 8.348 Ha / 20,628 acres. The gorge of the creek has an outstanding whole of different shape escarpments where grow plants used to live in tough environments. As well, there are some lateral fluvial scarps with little cascades. Numerous species of birds, griffon vultures, eagles and other birds of prey live in those clifs so the area was declared of Birds' Special Protection Area. Badger, wild cat, polecat, marten, weasel, Cabrera's shrew, otter, fox, roe deer and wild boar are the most notable mammals. Barranco del Río Dulce Natural Park (in Spanish).

Sierra de Alto Rey

Aldeanueva de Atienza is a little town located between the two groups of Sierra de Alto Rey. The highest mountain is to the east of the village and is named Alto Rey (1.852 m) and the most important peak in the western group are Los Mojones (1.821 m). Other notable peaks are: El Picoz (1.803 m), La Peña de los Gavilanes (1.759 m) and Peña de los Rollos (1.736). On Alto Rey there is a 12th century hermitage named Ermita del Santo Alto Rey de la Majestad, it's very nice but the site has been surrounded with TV aerials, so the road climbs to the summit of Alto Rey. Other bases for ascending the mountain are Bustares, Gascueña de Bornova and Prádena de Atienza.

Sierra de Pela

The former Sierra de Miedes is a low range located on the border between the provinces of Soria and Guadalajara. Eventhough it extends to the province of Segovia on its western part. So Rivilla (1.504 m) is the peak between those three provinces. The highest mountain in Sierra de Pela is Portillo (1.538 m) and the base of the climb is the road between Somolinos and Campisábalos, once past Laguna de Somolinos, a lake of glacier origin. The trail goes into the gorges Barranco del Bordova and Barranco de Borbocid. Other important peaks in the range are Ribalópez (1.521 m) and Grado (1.511 m). Note that between Sierra de Pela and Sierra de Alto Rey but more near to Sierra de Pela there is a peak higher than Portillo, it is Sima (1.542 m).

Low Ranges

Between Sierra Ministra and Sierra de Sierra de Alto Rey - Sierra de Pela, wich are in parallel position to the west, there are some insignificant ranges as Sierra de la Pila, Sierra de Hontalbilla, Sierra de la Bodera (Bodera 1.408 m) and Sierra del Bulejo (Torreplazo 1.426 m). Sierra the Hontalbilla is in Soria province, 20 Km to the north of the provincial boundary, and the rest is in north part of Guadalajara.

Sierra de Ayllón

It's the highest range in the east of Sistema Central being Pico del Lobo (2.272 m) the highest mountain. Sierra de Ayllón has an area of 900Km2 / 347 sq Mi and borders on the little town Grado del Pico (Segovia) to the east, Sierra del Ocejón to the south and Puerto de Somosierra to the west. The range is in the provinces of Segovia, Guadalajara and Madrid. In fact, Tres Provincias or Cebollera Vieja (2.128 m) is the mountain between those three provinces.

I'm not going to extend about this range because there are a lot of information in Pico del Lobo, Cerrón and Ocejón pages. Other 2-thousand meter mountains in Sierra de Ayllón in the range are listed here.

Sierra de la Puebla

This is a rather little but beatiful range located to the south of Sierra del Ocejón (Sierra de Ayllón). The mountains are none above 1.900 m though they form a valley having the little town named Puebla de la Sierra (1.161 m) inside. Note that this village is one of the less populous towns in Madrid province. The highest mountain is Tornera (1.866 m), climbed from Puerto de la Puebla (1.642 m), but other heights are also recommendable: Peña de la Cabra (1.834 m), Porrejón (1.827 m), Centenera (1.810 m) and Pinhierro (1.692 m). All of them can also been ascended starting on Puebla de la Sierra.

East-Central Region

Montes Carpetanos

Also known as La Somosierra, they are located between Puerto (road pass) de Somosierra (1.444 m) to the east and Puerto del Reventón (2.040 m) to the west. Before the 19th Century Sierra de Guadarrama was known Sierra Carpetana because of these mountains. The most important heights in this sector are (from the E to W): Colgadizos (1.833 m), Peña Quemada (1.833 m), Reliquias (1.960 m), Lomo Gordo (2.079 m), Reajo Alto (2.105 m), Nevero (2.209 m), Alto del Parrinoso (2.174 m), Peñacabra (2.164 m), Los Pelados (2.138 m), Flecha (2.078 m), Reventón (2.079 m), Cerro Morete (2.133 m) and Los Neveros (2.139 m). There are other 2000ers but are subsidiary summits: Peña del Buitre (2.106 m), Reajo Capón (2.090 m), Alto del Puerto W summit (2.164 m), Negro (2.087 m), Pelado (2.057 m), Cerro Malo (2.076 m), Regajo Hondo (2.078 m) and Alto Poyales (2.081 m). There are many bases for the climbs, the most important could be La Acebeda (1.275 m), Puerto de Peñaquemada (1.739 m) from Arcones (Segovia), Puerto de Navafría (1.773 m) and Rascafría (1.163 m).

Macizo de Peñalara

Located to the west of Montes Carpetanos, there is a page here, where you can find all the information. These are the summits from Puerto de los Neveros (north) to Puerto de Cotos (south): Risco de los Pájaros (2.266 m), Risco de los Claveles (2.387 m), Peñalara (2.429 m), Dos Hermanas Mayor (2.284 m) and Dos Hermanas Menor (2.376 m). There is a top wich could be considered in Macizo de Peñalara though it's not in the limits of Parque Natural de Peñalara, it is Peña Cítores (2.180 m).

Sierra de la Cabrera

It's a low but beautiful granite range located to the south of Montes Carpetanos, on the other side of Valle del Lozoya. It's very interesting for rock climbing being one the best crag area in the center of Spain. The only peaks that you can find in a 1:50.000 map are Pico de la Miel (1.392 m) and Cancho Gordo (1.563 m). Sierra de la Cabrera is approached from La Cabrera (1.038 m) to the south and Puerto de Medio Celemín (1.300 m) to the west.

From Sierra de la Cabrera to the west there are no 2000ers being El Reajo (1.742 m), Peña Negra (1.837 m), Mondalindo (1.833 m), Cabeza de Arcón (1.560 m), Pendón (1.545 m), Cabeza de la Braña (1.770 m), Perdiguera (1.866 m) and La Torrecica (1.828 m) the most prominent mountains. The last two heights are in the less known Sierra de la Morcuera. Cabeza de Arcón and Pendón are slightly to the south of Cabeza de la Braña.

Sierra de Guadarrama

It is with Macizo de Peñalara the most known range for the people of Madrid, in fact in can be seen from the Spain capital on sunny days. Sierra de Guadarram is located to the west of Sierra de la Morcuera. One of the hardest route in Sierra de Guadarrama is Cuerda Larga, wich is the ridge to the west of Sierra de la Morcuera (from E to W): Najarra (2.123 m) wich is not always in the route, Bailanderos (2.133 m), Asómate de Hoyos (2.242 m), Pandasco (2.247 m), Cabeza de Hierro Mayor (2.381 m), Cabeza de Hierro Menor (2.376 m), Valdemartín (2.282 m) and Bola del Mundo (2.255 m). It's better to attempt the route out of the hotest months of the summer (July and August) because there are no shadows or water. Try to avoid the route when snow is soft and always check the weather forecast before attempting Cuerda Larga.

To the west of Bola del Mundo the most important mountains (from E to W) are Siete Picos (2.136 m) and Cerro Ventoso (1.965 m). Then there are two branches of ridges being Cerro Minguete (2.023 m) the link between both. The one to the NW is formed by these peaks: Montón de Trigo (2.155 m), Pinareja (2.192 m), Oso (2.192 m), Pico de Pasapán (2.003 m), Peñas de la Majada (2.001 m), Cerro Carmocho (1.928 m) and Quintanar (1.932 m). Pinareja, Oso and Pico de Pasapán form Mujer Muerta because its shape when seeing from Segovia flats is like a dead woman. Peñas de la Majada, Cerro Carmocho and Quintanar form Sierra del Quintanar. The ridge to the SW of Cerro Minguete is formed by these mountains: Peña Bercial (1.999 m), Peña del Aguila (2.012 m), Peñota (1.945 m), Cerro del Mostajo (1.717 m), Peña del Cuervo (1.706 m), Cerro de Malafuente (1.673 m) and Sevillana (1.556 m).

Puerto del León (1.511 m) is the important pass that separates Sevillana from Cabeza Líjar (1.823 m) and Cueva Valiente (1.903 m). To ridge to the S of Cabeza Líjar includes: Cerro de la Salamanca (1.789 m), Riscos del Palanco (1.690 m), Cerro Carrasqueta (1.640 m), Riscos de la Cueva (1.620 m), San Juan (1.734 m), Los Tientos (1.742 m), Abantos (1.753 m), Solana del Ventisquero (1.622 m), Barranco de la Cabeza (1.678 m), Cerro la Cancha (1.501 m), Cerro Calamocho (1.436 m) and Cerro Cabezuelo (1.481 m). The old and narrow road from Puerto del León to San Lorenzo de El Escorial could be as base for all the climbs.

Puerto de la Paradilla (1.342 m) and Puerto de la Cruz Verde (1.256 m) are the two mountain passes to the south. The last separates Las Machotas (Machota Alta - 1.461 m and Machota Baja - 1.404 m) to the east and San Benito (1.626 m) to the west.

Sierra de la Almenara and Las Cabreras

Sierra de la Almenara is a low range located to the S of San Benito. The most important heights are Montebravo (1.197 m), Almojón (1.178 m), Alto de Navahonda (1.135 m), Almenara (1.259 m) and Cabeza la Huerta (1.128 m). The road M-512 from Puerto de la Almenara (949 m) to Robledo de Chavela is the base of climbs.

Las Cabreras is a tiny ridge just to the SW of Sierra de la Almenara. Cabrera Alta (1.041 m) and Cabrera Baja (953 m) are the only notable altitudes. They are easily climbed from Area Recreativa "Lancha del Yelmo", on the NE shore of Embalse (reservoir) de San Juan.

West-Central Region

Western Region

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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Diego Sahagún

Diego Sahagún - Feb 19, 2013 8:38 pm - Hasn't voted

Rock falling in La Cabrera (in Spanish)

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