La Integral de los Tres Mil

The big trekking “Tick” of the Sierra Nevada is “La Integral de los Tres Mil” or simply The Integral which is a traverse of the 3000m summits. With ascent and descent this is a good 5 day itinerary though with a detour to The Poqueira Refuge for a beer it makes a six day walk fitting perfectly into a weeks holiday!

Traditionally it starts or ends at the The Postero Alto Refuge though this can be a chore to get to from the south.  We normally start from Trevelez in the Alpujarra, which is Spain’s highest village. The final summit then being Caballo where we descend to Lanjarón (with its bars, hotels, and shops,) though it is perfectly acceptable to finish at the village of Nigüelas. We have also walked the main ridge starting further east at Puerto de la Ragua, a high pass where the road reaches 2000m and is a cross country ski resort in winter.  This adds an additional day and requires careful planning to find water.

The Itinerary we use is as follows:

Day 1    We meet you at Malaga Airport and transport you to Lanjarón, gateway to the Alpujarra and Sierra Nevada. We spend our first night in a hotel in Lanjarón and set about preparations for our expedition.

Day 2    We depart from Lanjarón by car for Trevelez where we begin our walk. Trevelez is the highest village in Spain at 1480m. Our walk takes us up the Rio Trevelez to our first nights camp near the Lagunillo del Puerto at 2740m.

Day 3    We ascend to the main Sierra Nevada ridge at Puerto Trevelez (2790m) and follow this via Puntal de Juntillas (3139m), Puntal de los Cuartos (3158m), Pico de la Justica o Atalaya (3135m) and Pico del Cuervo (3144m) before descending to the Laguna de Vacares (2895m) for our nights camp. If time and conditions permit it may be possible to bag 3 additional peaks, Picon de Jerez (3090m), Cereo Pelao (3144m) and Cerro del Mojon Alto (3167m) this will be decided by the guide on the day.

Day 4    Starts with a short steep ascent back up to the ridge at 2980. We then continue our traverse over Puntal de Vacares (3136m), Puntal de las Calderetas (3066m), Puntal de El Goteron (3064m) and Alcazaba (3371m), before descending to Siete Lagunas to make camp.

Day 5    Today we ascend Mulhacen (3482m) the highest peak in the Sierra Nevada and mainland Spain. We descend down Mulhacen’s west ridge to the Caldera bivi Refuge (3040m) and descend the rio Mulhacen to the fully catered Poqueira refuge, where we will spend the night.

Day 6    From the refuge we follow the Rio Seco to the old Sierra Nevada Road, which leads to the Carihuela bivy refuge, where we will spend the night. From here, an easy ascent of Veleta (3394m), mainland Spain’s 2nd highest mountain is possible.

Day 7    For our final day, there is the possibility of a scramble along the Tajos de la Virgin or alternatively descending to the Lagunillas de la Virgen and picking up the Verea Corta which is a really nice path. Both ways bring us to the old Elorrieta Refuge (3197m). From The Elorrieta we follow the Verea Corta to the Caballo Refuge and an ascent of Cerro del Caballo (3011m) which is the Sierra Nevada and indeed Europe’s most westerly 3000m peak.

All that remains is the 2 hour descent to the road head at Ventura (2000m) where transport awaits to take us down a series of dirt tracks back to the hotel in Lanjarón for a comfortable bed and a beer!

Our version does miss out some of the peaks but none the less provides a good expedition and leaves something to return for!