We had seen this ridge on our last visit to the Peñón de la Mata when we did a scramble on the north eastern flanks. The long whaleback shape of the west ridge looked interesting, with a somewhat difficult looking start. Trawling the internet found us a few spanish references, which gave us an idea of what was in offer. There were no english references, which suggested that we may be the first english speakers to "discover" this line.
The start. Options left, right or the centre gully
The best source was "Ascensión al Peñón de la Mata por la arista oeste". Some good photos and a report which suggested rock moves between I and II+ (about UK Mod to Diff). Perfect for what we were looking for, which was easy movement on exposed terrain with some more complex situations requiring simple ropework and protection.
Scrambling up to the start
The initial head wall was taken, in the article, via the gully in the center, but we preferred the more open but exposed left flank. Moves of I/II required the rope as security until the angle eased and we found ourselves emerging onto the ridge proper, above the initial walls. It is possible to bypass this whole initial section by starting on the southern side and scrambling up to the main ridge and thus avoiding these difficulties.
The ridge from here became easier scrambling but with interesting steps to take either head on or bypass as desired. We headed for the aeriest line, thus were always handling rock and with superb views to the left and right.
Steep initial walls
On one section a drop down to exposed neck followed by a dodgy move up the other side required rope security. This section was escapable but again we chose to find the most difficult line. Some massive chasms yawned close to hand, maybe snow storages from the old days?
A final steep wall beckoned ahead. The article suggested that we should choose the chimney going up, right of center (II+). Not being a lover of chimneys we tried to find a way round the wall to it's left and came across ..... another chimney. Nothing for it but to enter into it's gloomy depths and climb up to the top. On top and with the benefit of a rope, the remaining party came up the steep wall, which provided another exposed but enjoyable section.
On the initial buttress
We scrambled along the remaining ridge and reached the summit of the Peñón. Great views in all directions, so it came as no surprise for us to discover an old Civil War observation post camouflaged into the cliffs, now used solely for Geocaching purposes.
We dropped down the normal east ridge descent path and found a grassy clearing where we rested in the sun, ate our sandwiches and marveled at the views south to the snow clad Sierra Nevada with Mulhacen, Alcazaba and Veleta most prominent.
Amigos, montaña, sol, bocadillos, vistas increibles. Perfecto?
After lunch we climbed a short line on the steep SE side which we dedicated to an absent friend who first found the line. Now it's called...... "Dexter"!
Within 45 minutes we were back at the car and on our way to a welcome beer at Cogollas Vega. A perfect day?
The tight final chimney
N.B If you wish to do this route as described make sure your companions all have sufficient experience of exposed scrambling using basic rope techniques for protection. We shall be adding this to our list of areas that we visit regularly as part of our Scrambles in Andalucía series.