Ice and Snow Experiences – Part 2 – Circo de Gredos (Spain)

Friday’s summary (5h driving)


Fri 19:45 Departure from Lisbon towards Plataforma de Gredos (Lisboa-Badajoz-Merida-Caceres-Bejar-Hoyos del Espino)

    (Good dinner at Elvas…) 

Fri 02:00 Arrival at Plataforma de Gredos (1.770 m)


Saturday’s summary (walking: 12km (7km + 5km); Climb 1.000 m; descent 770m)

Packing up the heavy backpacks (Mine 15/20kg Antonio’s was surely lighter 🙂 )


Sat 8:45 Departure towards Elola refuge at Circo de Gredos.

    (Lots of photos, heavy backpacks…)

    (2.175 m)

Up hill on an Icy/snowy/rocky path

Nice view over a glacier valley

A first glance over Circo de Gredos

António: “Are you sure you want to go over the frozen lake???”

Sat 11:25 Arrival at Elola Refuge (2.000 m)

    (Setting up the tent, leaving some gear and having lunch)

The base camp (tent) and the day’s goal: Almanzor summit

A closer look on the summit

Sat 13:10 Departure to Almanzor summit


beautiful place

Sat 15:00 Arrival at the base of Portilla del Crampón pitch from where we diverge right through a small channel soloing a 50m, 60º of snow/ice  pitch (which we later both considered to be “better done” with rope and belay);

At the base of Portilla del Crampón pitch

Exposed pitch – solo

Sat 15:30 We both finish this 1st pitch and I started to lead the 2nd and final pitch, climbing in ensemble to the belay point above (2m below the summit). This pitch is also right of the Portilla del Crampón final pitch (under the Rappel line) and has mixed climbing with easy snow/ice climbing and technical rock climbing (maybe III/IV).

Great view after the first pitch

Sat 16:55 Almanzor summit (2.592 m)

Summit pictures

Sat 17:00 We both started the descend

    (At about 18:40 head lamps were swiched on)

Sat 19:10 We both reach the tent (by night)


Sunday’s summary (walking: 8km (7km + 1km); Climb 385 m; descent 550 m)

My mother would say: “Clean up your room!” 🙂


Sun 9:10 Departure towards Excalibur ice water-fall (at 2.050m)

Deciding on what to do

Sun 9:30 Ups! Hard on the brakes… Excalibur was as thin as ice (thin ice 🙂 ); Plan B: Psicosis ice water-fall (at 2.100 m)

Ice water-falls

Sun 10:30 Psicosis 60m, IV (35m 60º70º + 25m 80º-90º) (According to António a V in Scottish grading); The second pitch was lead by me (my first time leading an ice water-fall) where I placed #7 screws (every 2/3m and the last one at 5/6m from, a not easy to spot, belay station, 4m on the right).

Sun 14:15 (52m) Rappel from Psicosis;

    (Saving a Gore-tex glove stucked in a 3m crevasse, photos,…)

Psicosis ice water-fall (on the right)

Sun 14:40 Returning to the tent

Returning to the tent

Sun 15:45 Leaving Circo de Gredos

   (A little bit tired, heavy backpacks [15kg-20kg] and can’t remember any other good excuse for taking so much time 🙂 )

Sun 18:20 Arriving at Plataforma de Gredos and the car.

The day ended and we had only 6 more hours (4:30h according to António), driving, … to get home

   (McDonalds Badajoz – Exit 1km before Portugal)

Sun 23:50 Lisbon


Note: Portuguese time. For local time (Spanish) add 1 hour


Ice and Snow Experiences


A small chat on the web…

António: What about going to Serra da Estrela on Saturday ? The weather forecast  states low temperatures until Sunday, the ice waterfalls might have formed, and we could leave Lisbon around 6 a.m., climb until we can and, after a drink, return to Lisbon an d arrive around 9 p.m.!?

Me: Looks cool! I’m in!

Me: Miguel are you in?

Miguel: No! You guys are crazy! Didn’t you see the report on the forum? The mountain is naked, no ice nor snow!

Saturday (30th January, 2010) Report 


(I’m not mentioning the time because I’m afraid this blog might be used has a proof for a ticket 🙂 )


Travelling from the night into the day.

Covilhã on sight

This picture was taken after the most risky move of the all day! We were driving through the heart of Covilhã when we saw 2 GNR (Police) Jeeps (one of them had a quad attached to it) and a car all stopped in line. António was in a hurry so he immediately decide to overtake all 4 vehicles! But afer overtaking the first (the car) we realized what we were doing! We were undertaking 4 vehicles where undertaking was not allowed and this vehicles were stopped because they were waiting for the light to go green!!! Ups! I think the cold temperatures and early morning prevented the police from wanting to get out of the Jeeps! (Close call)

9 a.m. –  Arriving from Lisbon at Café Estrela (Manteigas – Serra da Estrela)

A semi-naked mountain still allows some discovery

9:30 – Top rope in the ice-waterfall nearest to the parking lot of  “Cantaro Magro” with a very hard dry tooling on the exit. Thank God that was top rope!! Imagine topping out a boulder on slopers but with piolets!! Jesus!!

António Rappelling on the left + the upper part of my alpine clothes

The lower part of my alpine clothes

António leading the way

 We found a top to mount the top-rope, but as we latter found, it was too much on the right so my first ice climbing experience had a serious risk of hard pendulum!

12:00 – Ensemble climbing

After the ensemble climbing to leave the Cantaro valley and the only sit stop (5m) in 9h of activity António was still in high gear and with no intention of using the brakes! 🙂 

15:00 – “Cascata encaixa” ice-waterfall was not good enough to be climbed so we “discovered?” another, a little bit more to the south, where António led the climb and used, for the first time, my ice screws (he used 5 in total plus some nuts and friends, in the end of the pitch).

“Cascata encaixa” ice-waterfall

Our view

“Cascata encaixa” ice-waterfall, the hole after a first piolet test and the water that was hidden inside.

Self portrait

The climb of the day. António said it would be graded has a IV grade in Scotland.

António finishing the ice climb 

Returning to the car with the day light almost over 🙂

18:30 – Arriving at the starting point by night.

Safely into the car! The best way to finnish a climbing day.

At 18:30 the car measured -2,5º.

We didn’t eat much during the day so before going home we stopped at the McDonalds, and I almost went for a second burger! I only didn’t because I remembered that I still had some bread in the car! 🙂

19:40 – Leaving McDonalds at Covilhã.

Around 22h

 A déjà vu feeling of driving again into Lisbon by night  in the same day.


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