Ascent of Alto de la Cañada on 2011-08-14

Climber: Rob Woodall

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, August 14, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Alto de la Cañada
    Elevation:2157 m / 7077 ft

Ascent Trip Report

I climbed this hill the morning after Pico Pienzu, on the way back to Madrid airport. I had no topo map but the sketch map in Juan Martinez Hernandez’ book Las 100 cumbres mas prominentes de la peninsula Iberica suggested a straightforward ascent and it looked like the Satnav could get me to the trailhead at Rialgo.

To reach the trailhead, turn S off the main road at Huelgas, N42.95689 W6.09259 (signposted Rialgo 1,7). The book seems to suggest starting at the public cemetery. This is at the start of the village but there is no obvious parking and nothing to discourage driving further so I followed the road shown on the satnav until it ran out just past “El Mirador” (hostal?). Just past this the concrete road runs out, there is a fork with two unsurfaced road / tracks continuing, and a signboard (N42.94368 W6.07405, 1270m). This seems a reasonable place to park. The sign board has a decent topo map showing the summit (and a trail which stops at a lake, a little off the summit route). The topo map was consistent with the sketch map in the book: I photographed both to the clipboard in my camera for easy reference.

The route follows the R fork from the trailhead. In 500m is another fork – keep L. The wide track continues (you could maybe park further along the track, 2km from the signboard, at N42.92749 W6.08183), at first rising very gently, then more steeply with a pair of zigzags then a steep climb and a short descent to a neat farm building at La Brana, N42.91019 W6.09571, 1614m. From here, cross a grassy plain then the main stream at N42.90767 W6.09715. Once across the stream the path bends R and heads generally in the direction of a saddle immediately L of the imposing sharp peak Robinalto, 2117m. The path passes through dense broom scrub and is a little indistinct in places but not hard to follow. It reaches a small rocky stream at N42.90050 W6.10244 which it follows for a short way. It finally ends at N42.89766 W6.10369, 1899m, with open grass beyond. Note this location carefully – you will need it to find the path again on the way down. The route in the book climbs to the saddle L of Robinalto (N42.89591 W6.11196 approx) which is now visible straight ahead, but I took a more direct way, following a steep rock / heather rib from N42.89585 W6.10563 then ascending half-L to gain the ridge at N42.89337 W6.10696, 2060m. From here it’s an easy ridge walk to the summit (N42.89231 W6.10307, 2168m) which is marked by a cylindrical trig pillar with its top missing, and a distinctively shaped cairn, with a steep drop to the S. The most striking feature of the view is the summit pyramid of Fontan Sur, 19km to the north. 4 Griffon vultures drift past as I rest and take food and water.

After 30 mins I head down, more or less directly for the base of the rib I had ascended – some grass, with scree lower down. The descent is straightforward; once on the main track below La Brana I jog the steeper parts. I’m back at the trailhead at 12:40 – 2h up, 1h down. I met just one other party, on the main track. They too had parked by the signboard – evidently an accepted practice unless I had started a trend! I then took a leisurely drive back to Madrid for my evening flight, very pleased with my three summit long weekend.

Alto de la Canada photos
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:907 m / 2976 ft
    Extra Gain:10 m / 33 ft
    Distance:20 km / 12.4 mi
    Route:Arroyo de Rialago
    Trailhead:Riolago  1270 m / 4167 ft
    Grade/Class:YDS 2
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
a few spots of rain near the finish
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:2 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:1 Hours 

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