28 November, 2012

Everyday Adventurer Richard Hartley – Climbing on the razor’s edge

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Everyday Adventurers, Richard Hartley

Everyday Adventurer Richard Hartley – Climbing on the razor’s edge

There is a ridge in Spain’s Sierra Nevada that I have been aiming to do for a long time. It is called “Los Raspones” and looks spectacular. With good winter conditions existing we organised a quick meet with a real international flavour consisting of 2 spanish, 1 german, 1 dutch and 3 english mountaineers.

On day one we made the ascent from the south passing the Refugio Poqueira and moving on to an overnight camp in the snows of the Rio Chico valley at the base of the ridge. The thaw of the last few days had unfortunately affected the thin early season snowpack and the Raspones looked like it was going to be mainly a rock route.

Some members enjoyed a dusk ascent of the nearby, Puntal de Terreras Azules (2,804m) which gave superb views over a cloud clad Mediterranean sea and allowed for some antics on the summit pillar.

Up early next morning to a superb blue sky and light winds, the lower easier broken ridge sections were quickly completed before arriving at the more technical lower third of the main ridge proper. This section is similar to the Cuillin of Skye, but the rock much less reliable and great care should be taken. 2 abseils over this section were necessary.

The crux is a rock face which we named the “Red Pillar” on account of it’s colored rock. Once surmounted the going gets steadily easier. We had a long walk out back to the cars so cut short the final sections to down climb a gully to the right before dropping back down to the campsite.

The Raspones is well worth doing and provides a good mountaineering route. It is graded alpine AD with some short rock sections of 4+. Most of it can be done moving together. We saw hardly another person in two days and nobody on the actual route itself. Hard to believe that such good climbing exists so far down in the south of Europe. The Sierra Nevada is a most underrated and quiet mountaineering destination.

We shall return when we get full winter conditions and when the jagged pinnacles of the razors edge will be covered in snow, ice and verglas. Then maybe it will provide yet another completely different experience for our group of amigos.

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