Pico del Veleta (Guejar Sierra)
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Pico de Veleta is over 44km long and climbs to well over 3,000m - it is one of the most challenging road climbs in Europe. The gradient is quite steady and hovers around 7% for most of the climb.
In addition to the length and the gradient, Veleta is also made more challenging than the weather. It is very hot at the foot of the climb and can be very cold at the top - which means you have to carry a lot of warm gear with you even in July and August (bear in mind that the descent will take about an hour given the technical nature of the roads at the top).
The name Veleta means 'weather-vane' in Spanish and gives a clue to another of the difficulties on the climb - the wind. The last few kilometres are very exposed and it is not uncommon for there to be gusts of winds of around 100km/h.
Overall, however, the climb from Guejar Sierra is the easiest of the three ways up to Veleta - lacking many of the very steep sections that you will find on the other two routes.
Roads & TrafficUntil the barrier at 2,500m the road is in excellent condition. After the barrier there is a section of about two kilometres which is in very poor condition. The asphalt is severely cracked in places, with a lot of gravel and pot-holes across the road. After that section it becomes good again and remains in reasonable condition until the last kilometre, which again is very broken and with loose gravel. The last 200m to the summit of the climb is not passable on a road bike, so you will have to walk there if you wish to reach the very top.
The road between Pinos Genil and Guejar Sierra is fairly busy at times, but traffic is not constant and it is not really a nuissance. From Guejar Sierra to where you rejoin the main road near the Sierra Nevada ski resort, there is very little traffic - which is just as well as the road is narrow in places.
You will meet a few cars on the final few kilometres before the barrier, but it is not constant and the road is so wide that it is not a problem. After the barrier it is just walkers and bicycles, as motorized vehicles are not allowed on this section.
Climb DescriptionThe climb begins in the village of Pinos Genil at the junction of the SE-39 and the GR-3200. If coming from Granada, you turn left just before a bridge on the outskirts of Pinos Genil. The junction is signed to Guejar Sierra.
In Guejar Sierra you will reach a junction where the road splits; turn left here to continue with this route, or take the right fork to climb to Veleta via Haza Llanas.
After several kilometres you will rejoin the GR-3200. At the next stop sign, turn left and continue heading uphill, following the signs to Veleta. At around 2,500m altitude you will reach a barrier across the road; climb under the barrier and continue following the road as it is heads to the top of the mountain.
Pico de Veleta is one of the iconic climbs in Spain. It is the highest road by a distance and, as such, is a great challenge for all cyclists who like to test themselves in the mountains.
The scenery is incredible throughout the climb. On the lower slopes there is a fantastic view of the Guejar Reservoir and of the city of Granada. As you climb higher, the scenery becomes more barren and wild.
The last few kilometres, once you have passed under the barrier, are particularly beautiful. Pico de Veleta is the second highest peak on the Iberian Peninsula, and it is a rare privilege to be able to cycle right to the peak itself, looking down upon all the other mountains in the vast Sierra Nevada range.
Alternative RouteThere are two alternative routes to climb Veleta. The hardest - via Haza Llanas - is largely similar to this route, but with a very steep 5km section coming out of Guejar sierra.
The other route begins slightly further south in the village of Monachil and has very different scenery on the lower slopes, before joining up with this route at around 1,900m.
Nearby ClimbLa Zubia
Collado de Quentar
Alto de Haza Llanas