Thursday, 3 October 2019

Cerro del Lastonar & La Concha. Plus Cruz de Juanar on another day

Walk Description

This was our second visit to El Juanar area this trip. We even managed a third visit after today's walk to climb Cruz de Juanar with details and photos included later in this report.
The first one being eleven days ago on the Sunday 25 September 2019, when we made an attempt on La Concha and the less well-known Cerro del Lastonar, but main P600 summit of the small upland area of Sierra Blanca seen from Marbella. All of the tourist information and local guide sheets mention La Concha and suggest it as a suitable day’s activity if you want a change from the beach or sightseeing. What they do not mention in too much detail is Salto del Lobo (Wolve’s Leap). Situated about two hours from Refugio El Juanar on the NW side of the 1219m spot height, which from now on will refer to as Cerro de Salto del Lobo as suggested in the log entry, was as far as we got on the first attempt. The exposure albeit not too bad was too much for Gina.
Today’s attempt was not planned. We had intended to explore the other hiking trails including the Miradors along with the summit of Cruz Juanar. Saving ourselves about 800m hiking each way we drove past last Sunday’s parking spot near Refugio El Juanar and parked near the locked barrier. It was here we met Gary and Clair who Gary insisted were both on the way to La Concha.
Third sign for La Concha. Turn left off Ojen to Istan path and follow PR-A 168 towards La Concha
Setting off together at a fair old pace chatting we followed the same route along the rough stone track past Mirador del Corzo turn off and taking the right fork sign La Concha towards the derelict Cortijo del Juanar. At this point I harboured hopes Gina may be encouraged by Claire to have another go at Salto del Lobo. We turned left at the third sign for La Concha leaving the PR A-167 ascending through pine trees towards Collado de Juanar. As we left the pine trees and the rate of ascent markedly increased I noticed Claire starting to struggle to keep up. Turns out she was suffering from a hangover.
When we reached Collado de Juanar we offered our goodbyes pointed out our sign to Cruz Juanar and the sign for them pointing towards La Concha. Unfortunately, for Gary, Claire did not seem too keen. Fortunately for me however she suggested Gary and I go for La Concha whilst Gina and her wait for us just before Salto del Lobo. Gina was more than happy with this idea and clearly so was I.
Point near Salto del Lobo where Gina found too much exposure on right and where we turned back on first attempt.
I did still suggest we stick together and continue to La Concha by avoiding Salto del Lobo by heading left of the 1219m spot height from the col with the 1221m spot height. I had instinctively started on this less worn track but was called back by a group returning from Salto del Lobo pointing out we had gone wrong or at least left the main track. However once at the col the girls declined my suggestion. They both said they would wait an hour then head back and wait for us at the Refugio.
Looking back at Salto del Lobo fro south flank of Cerro del Lastonar. Cruz de Juanar on right
Gary and I set off for Salto del Lobo. Nothing too difficult for experienced hikers, but obvious care needed as there is still plenty of scope for slips and falls with severe consequences. We managed to miss the short chained section by inadvertently scrambling above it and in no time we back on a sandy track heading round the south flank of Cerro del Lastonar looking back at the 1229m spot height. Studying the route around the now left and south side of Cerro de Salto del Lobo clearly looked doable as testified by Rob Woodall’s peakbagger log on 05/10/2010, but probably with similar jeopardy for the inexperienced hiker as Salto del Lobo.
Continuing west around Cerro de Lastonar we missed the cairn marking the direct route straight up to the P600 summit, but in all honesty the P600 is the minor event of this hike.
Gary taking Optional ridge walk on route to La Concha. Easier/safer path to the right
As you progress around Cerro del Lastonar flank, a spectacular view of La Concha comes opens up along with the ridge and narrow saddle you have to traverse. Unfortunately with camera focus playing up I did not manage a decent shot. Good excuse to return on next visit to Costa del Sol.
Again with experience it is a great ridge to walk along but as is often the case there is a less exposed path lower down to the right.
Probably because we stuck to the ridge, we missed the main path and ended up on the south flank losing the track altogether. Having realised the mistake it was an easy ascent up rough ground back to the ridge. Soon after regaining the ridge we reached what seemed to be the highest point and what we thought was La Concha but checking GPS to drop a waypoint indicated La Concha and associated trig pillar was further to the west.
La Cocha East top 70m away from La Concha looks and measures higher. Cerro del Lastonar beyond,
then Salto de Lobo and finally Cruz Juanar
70m further on there is another highpoint but it looks lower. No dispute however that this low point is La Concha, there is even a remnant of one of the corners of the destroyed trig pillar plinth. Altitude measured on the phone confirmed it is 0.9m lower but it is not an accurate or indeed definitive measurement. It is the spot height and I guess influenced by local tradition that this point should be named La Concha as it is the point that looks like a shell viewed from Marbella.By now it is 15:30 meaning we have used up the 1.5 hours we told the girls we would be doing the return trip, so fairly certain they will have headed back to the Refugio by now. We set off back this time sticking to the main ridge. I have to admit, by now I was unexpectedly feeling really tired. It is testament to the tough terrain and ground confirming La Concha ad a challenge. Also it was my first real hike since Pico de Aneto two months earlier so guess I had not retained my hill legs as much as I had hoped.
Having gained ridge, after leaving ascent route, heading east towards Cerro del Lastonar summit
Either way it would be remiss to not visit La Concha as part of going up Cerro del Lastonar. Talking of which we still had to climb. After the chains near Cepillo del Enebro we decided to carry on back round the flank of Lastonar rather than continue up the ridge from the col. Can't confirm if this was the best route but it did not take much effort to reach the ridge once we decided to turn left and head towards the ridge.
We did find a path along the ridge and after turning right it was a straightforward trek to the summit. Not such good views as from La Concha but it was the P600 and for me whole purpose of the hike, despite La Concha being the highlight. Summit photos complete we continued straight over the summit to the NE and descended the other side along a vague rarely used path that brought us back to the ascent route marked by a small cairn that we had not noticed on the ascent. In hindsight we could have used this route to go straight to Cerro del Lastonar if it was the only summit we planned to visit. But as already mentioned La Concha with its views over Marbella along with Atlas mountains in Morroco, not to mention Gibraltar along with the approach ridge really are the highlights of the day. Leaving the whole purpose of ascending the P600, Cerro del Lastonar a worthy 3rd. Having re-joined the main path the return took another hour and was the same as the ascent, but this time using the chained part of Salto del Lobo and back to the van.
Back at van near Refugio El Juanar after being turned back from Salto del Lobo
A smashing day out made possible by Gina and Clare’s understanding, even though they frightened the life out of us by hiding behind the gate posts where the van was parked. Gary had his car keys parked at the Refugio and Gina had our van keys parked near the gate. We did wonder if they would realise and even fantasised about them bring up cold beers and putting them in the van fridge. Well can’t expect everything.
The only downside was the auto focus on my phone camera playing up meaning a significant number of shots were blurred. O well, who knows, maybe on a subsequent trip to Cabopino I can return with a working camera. The views from La Concha are certainly worth the effort.
Michael Coates and Gina at summit of Cruz de Juanar
Click on photograph to view slide-show
We did in fact manage a third visit to the Sierra Blanca on 22 October 2019. This time with Michael and Amanda Coates to climb Cruz de Juanar. The route taken was exactly the same from Refugio parking to Collado de Juanar, then leaving path and taking signed path and short 400m but steep ascent gaining over 100m from the col. Straight forward path to follow with a short scramble just before the summit. Gina's first taste of real scraambling which she managed without a hitch. Not really a lot different to Salto del Lobo. Just goes to show the power of the mind to stop you doing something is equal to the power to make you do it.
Usually would expect to do this summit either on way to/from La Concha/Cerro del Lastonar, but as mentioned above was feeling effects of not doing much hiking since July. In any event it gave a good reason to return and even now all three summits have been climbed am likely to return with Gina to explore many of the other paths around the Refugio and various Miradors.

Walk Statistics

Walk Date - 03 October 2019
Walkers - Steve Smith, Gina Smith, Gary, Claire
Accommodation - Camping Cabopino 
Start Point - Parking near locked gate on track 800m after Refugio de Juanar (36.57711°N, 0.65000°E)
Start Time - 12:20
Finish Point - Parking near locked gate on track 800m after Refugio de Juanar (36.57711°N, 0.65000°E)
Finish Time- 18:55
Total Duration - 6hrs 35mins 
Overall Average pace - 1.22mph
Total Distance Walked - 8.04 miles
Total Height Ascended -705.00metres

Peaks visited

Spain/Portugal 600m Prominence Peaks (168S - 185S&P - 2165E)
Cerro del Lastonar (65S - 67S&P - 96E)
Spain/Portugal 300m - 599m Prominence Peaks (1000+)
Spain/Portugal 150m - 299m Prominence Peaks (3000+)
Spain Autonomous Community High Points (19)
Spain Province High Points (52)
S: Spain
P: Portugal

Final walk from previous trip


Other walks on this trip

27th Oitz
02nd Umbría
22nd Cerro del Lastonar attempt with Gina
25th Pico de Mijas with Gina
03rd Cerro del Lastonar
11th Gitano
11th Aljibe
15th Cruz de Juanar


More Photographs

Full set of captioned photos providing journal and description of key parts of ascent, descent and summit photographs.
Route map, Statistics and other route info to follow. 

View over Marbella from La Concha 
Click on photograph to view slide-show