Kiersten Rowland

Adventures, Travel & Photography

Out of my comfort zone and onto the NW ridge of Tozal del Cartujo

15 July 2016

Reading time: 4 mins

This is my version of a day scrambling I had in the Sierra Nevada on the NW ridge of Tozal del Cartujo. Thankfully I was in the competent company of Richard, Felipe and Andrew, who all helped to keep me calm, make me laugh and make me feel confident. Yes I can do it.

The four of us on the chair lift on our way up
The four of us on the chair lift on our way up

The four of us met in Lanjaron and drove to the ski centre above Granada to catch the gondola to the middle station and then the chair lift to below Veleta (in July and August the ski chair lifts are open and give you a good bump in altitude to help a good mountain day).

At this point we left the crowds, Okay so in reality there were only a couple of other people about. We headed on down to the beautiful Lagunillas and carefully passed through the unique ecosystem of the Sierra Nevada known as Borreguiles.

Here I admit to getting distracted by all the flowers, insects and birds who call this place home. Many photos later I caught up with the others who had reached Laguna Misteriosa. Another beautiful and rarely visited area, shhh don’t tell anyone about it.

Sempervivum minutum - Jupiters beard
Sempervivum minutum - Jupiters beard
Viola crassiuscula - Sierra Nevada Violet
Viola crassiuscula - Sierra Nevada Violet
Plantago nivalis - Star of the snows
Plantago nivalis - Star of the snows

Two hours after leaving the chair lift we had a rest, putting on our helmets and harnesses and my nerves began to tickle away in my tummy as I took in the (to me anyway) enormity of what I was about to do. The start was pretty straight forward and a nice way to get you into the day, but soon enough the rope was brought out for me to give a little confidence on the exposed areas we were now on.

I’ve had a number of scrambling days over the years and thoroughly enjoyed them once I’ve argued with the “I can’t do this” voice in my head. However, this ridge is different from any of the other days I have done. It is one long high altitude ridge with sustained exposure. The voice in my head was different today, it didn’t say “I can’t do this”, it said, “what the hell are you doing here, how are you going to get up, down and over this”, I thought this was progress and maybe me and the voice in my head are coming to an understanding!

At some point during the day Richard took off to go explore and see if he could find a way around the ‘crux’. It was decided that I would have more interesting scrambling by sticking with Felipe and Andrew, I should have known better! We arrived at the ‘crux’. Now for most the ‘crux’ is the short abseil into the void and (in my opinion) a near impossible climb back up the other side.

For me there was an added ‘crux’ the piece of rock you need to down climb to get to the abseil. I’m short, the rock has no hand holds at the top and the foothold is cut away underneath the rock out of view and out of reach of my feet! It’s only a short distance to drop down but exposure started to get the better of me, and I was having a serious argument with the voice in my head at this time. I had to ask Andrew (Felipe was setting up the abseil point) to push on my backside to push me back into the rock as I attempted to lower myself down the rock. Sorry Richard and Andrew but there was no other choice other than a helicopter coming to get me ha ha. When I look at the photos of this section I laugh at how something like that could cause such fear in me, but that is exposure for you.

Comments

KZKryschtal: That was awesome - in the true sense of the word! You did amazing things. I was almost getting dizzy just looking at the photos!!! KZK

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