About Sierra Nevada
What do you fancy doing today, skiing, snowboarding, sledging, cross country skiing or winter mountain walking? Within a comfortable three hours drive from the Costa del Sol, you could be at Pradollano, you may sometimes hear it called Sol y Nieve, or Sierra Nevada.
The Sierra Nevada, at 86,208 hectares, is Spain’s largest National Park. It also contains the highest mainland peak, Mulhacen, 3,482 metres, and 14 other peaks over 3,000 metres. Twenty thousand years ago, at the time of the last glacial maximum, the upper parts of the Sierra Nevada were covered in permanent ice. Since then less snow and ice has accumulated over the winter than has melted during the summer. The last vestiges of permanent ice disappeared from Mulhacen around 1990. Since then the trend each year has been for a shorter season of natural snow, and that at higher altitudes. Three hundred snow blowers have been installed around Pradollano to, briefly, reverse the trend and extend the skiing season.
When snow conditions are at their best, there are 79 pistes with 23 lifts. Runs vary from undulating and wide for beginners to mogul fields for the insane. Most are in the blue to red, easy to difficult, range. The ski lifts take you as far as the Borreguilles station.
From here you can go further, deep into the mountains if you wish, on guided or non-guided cross-country skiing trips or mountain walking. There is a particularly punishing 22-kilometre route from here that takes you to the top of Mulhacen.
Off the piste
If you want some fun off the piste, particularly those with young children, then drive out of Pradollano. Turn right at the car park outside town and follow the signs for Hoya de la Mora. The road takes you up to a car park beyond which you can drive no further. There are a couple of snack bars. From here you can take short walks to natural snow slopes beneath the Pico del Veleta (3,396 metres) that are not frequented by skiers, ideal for sledging. You can buy plastic sledges that look like large shovels for a few Euros and hurtle down the slopes to your heart’s content. It is only 5 km to the top of Veleta from which point you can see, seemingly and enticingly close, Mulhacen.
Over recent years the ‘season’ for the Sierra Nevada has been extended. A family leisure centre is open from July to September and mountain biking and walking is possible all year. Perhaps the most emotive experience available though, are the Astrotourism tours. There is nothing quite as inspiring as standing on the roof of the world watching the sun rise or set over the surrounding peaks. On certain nights the Astrophysics Observatory, the highest in Europe, is part of the tour.
Holiday property rentals in Sierra Nevada
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