Despite being close to Granada in the Sierra Nevada at a balmy 18c, it was -4c on the summit, but unusually free of snow on the final approaches. We had a light westerly wind, and high cloud above summits, with sun for 80% of day. We took the cable car to Borreguiles at approx. 2400m, then walked under chairlifts to the road across the base of the adjacent peak, the Valeta, (apparently forbidden to do so!), then followed track all the way.
We took a look at the steep traversing path at the caldera, but opted for the longer but safer track around the promontory. The ice and snow dictated crampons the majority of the day, except for the long pull up the west flank to the summit, which was surprisingly snow free, but all around was an amazing myriad of water- ice shapes.
On the summit we met one of the few folks we saw all day, a German, who joined us for the descent back down to the excellent un-manned refuge at the caldera for some photos and a snack in relative warmth. It was then the long trudge back....and it was long!
It took 11.5 hours in total, 38k and 1800m of ascent/descent - not to be underestimated. That included a long walk down from Hoya la Moro and into town in the dark, which could have been avoided if we had a car there. If we did it again, in winter, we would do it in two days using the refuge. Altitude was a killer on that final slope too, and we both had aching lungs from the rapid ascent from sea level and the cold air, gulped deeply. You spend a lot of the time over 3200m, and you feel it.
We got into a great tapas bar at 20:30, kit and all, and the patron treated us royally. Never did a San Miguel taste so good! I have done it from the east and the west now, in a day and with an overnight - It's a great mountain, with surprising facets that make it interesting.
Here's to the third time......