Sierra Nevada (with or without) Guide

Routes, Maps & Inspiration for Self Guided Walking & Hiking in Spain's Sierra Nevada

Harsh winter conditions in the Sierra Nevada

Safety Checklist

Most of these are obvious but well worth repeating here

1) Check weather forecast

Check AEMET, other online weather resources and of course the Sierra Nevada Ski pages. Look out for wind gust speeds for your intended altitude. Over 40km/hr and you might struggle to stay upright, bearing in mind you might well be on an icy slope at the time! Look out for a deteriorating situation during the day. If so, start earlier, choose simpler route or indeed another day altogether. Temperatures at your intended altitude both the night before and the day of your climb will indicate likely ground conditions you will meet (ice, soft snow etc) and also likely windchill factor. Check when sunset is due and plan to be back well before to give you some lead time.

2) Take a fully charged mobile phone with you

Absolutely essential if you get into difficulty and need the rescue services. Consider this as part of the necessary security equipment you must carry. Must be fully charged, preferably with a spare battery in your pack too. Remember the cold affects battery life/performance.

Remember that you have to dial 112 to alert the Emergency Services.

There is good coverage around the ski area, variable on the major summits and elsewhere. In sheltered northern valleys there will be none. Remember that even if your mobile is showing zero or little signal strength you can still possibly connect to emergency services via 112, so keep trying.

3) Dress accordingly

Take spare clothing, gloves & hat with you. The extra weight will be well worth it when the clouds come in and winds increase. In winter always pack a down jacket and down gloves even on the best of days.

4) Don’t bite off more than you can chew!

I’m all for adventure, but make sure your adventures happen in reasonably controlled situations. In winter above the snow line plan your intended route to be well within your capability and experience. Be prepared to change plan as mountain conditions change!

5) Make sure there is a backup plan

ie ask yourself a few “What If” questions. Make sure you are always aware of the quick escape route to lower ground and safety. Know the location of refuges/shelters that could be utilised if required.

6) Map & compass

Plan your route the night before. Standalone GPS devices are very useful but personally I wouldn’t trust a smartphone GPS mainly due to limited battery capability in very cold temperatures

7) Take crampons & ice axe even if ski touring

If you are heading above the snow line even for ski touring then you MUST take crampons and ice axe and know how to use them. There are plenty of basic Winter Skills Mountaineering Courses in the Sierra Nevada and elsewhere that will give you sufficient training and confidence to take modest steps into the winter mountains.

8) Inform people of your route

Make sure you tell somebody your intended route and what time you intend to be back. Then make sure you alert those same people when you do get back to your car!

9) Avalanche Risk?

On my intended route will there be an avalanche risk? This is a massive subject but check with the Sierra Nevada ski area and/or the Refugio Poqueira Read “Risks and Dangers” section of this guidebook.

10) Calling the Rescue Services on 112

Remember that you have to dial 112 to alert the Emergency Services.

When you talk to the operator respond to the questions slowly and clearly. If you do not speak spanish then they will put you through to an english speaker. Give the exact location where you are situated and details of any injuries.

After finishing the call don’t be tempted to recall 112 to get updates. Wait in the same place for the Rescue Services to arrive or they contact you directly.

Cicerone Guide Book Sierra Nevada

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