Mulhacen, Sierra Nevada, Spain
At 3,482m, Mulhacen is the highest peak in mainland Spain (Teide in Tenerife is the highest) and is easily climbed by any reasonably fit walker, although it is prone to some fierce snow storms in the winter. For the ordinary walker, the easiest route is from the south starting from the “white village” of Capileira (loads of hostel, hotels, bars and restaurants), about 2 hours from the main motorway running along the Costa del Sol.
To do the trip in one day, you’ll need to book a place on the minibus (€10 return tickets from the national park office in the town) which leaves Capileira at 9am and leaves you at the Mirador Trevelez viewpoint at 2,700m. Return bus leaves at 4.30pm and that leaves plenty time for the 700m ascent there and back trek to Mulhacen.
From here it’s a steady two-hour or so walk at a pretty gentle incline, apart from a steeper section just before the summit. In mid-October we were in the first snow of the season – nothing that required snowshoes or crampons – but in winter this is a serious mountain where there have been a number of fatalities, mainly people who went up too late in the year and were poorly equipped. For the ordinary walker, Mulhacen is a mountain for spring or autumn – too hot in summer and too much snow in winter.
There are other more demanding routes and for anybody wanting to spend the night deep in the Sierra Nevada, there is the Refugio de Porquiera hut which allows for a trek from Mirador de Trevelez, taking in Mulhacen, its neighbouring peak Veleta and ending the day at the mountain hut, which has food and drink and sleeps about 80 people (booking ahead essential). The next day, simplest option is to walk down the track down the Poqueira gorge to Capileira. Other walking routes from the east and west, but the north face of Mulhacen is definitely for the scramblers and climbers (ropes etc essential).