Pico del Veleta (Haza Llanas)
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Although slightly shorter than the other two main routes to Veleta, this is the most challenging. The main difficulty is the climb to Alto de Haza Llanas, which begins as you leave Guejar Sierra.
This is a really steep section for around 5km, with several stretched between 15% and 22% gradient.
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.
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.
The 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 right here to continue with this route (staying on the GR-3200) and follow the road downhill to the bridge over the Genil River. Once you cross the bridge the climb to Alto de Haza Llanas begins.
After several kilometres you will reach a 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. From Guejar Sierra you will begin the toughest section - and what makes this the hardest route to Veleta - the Alto de Haza Llanas - a climb used recently as a stage finish in the Vuelta a España.
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.
Pico de Veleta is best cycled in June and September. It is also possible in July and August, but can be very hot, particularly on the early part of the climb,.
The summit is also sometimes clear in early October and late May, but during the rest of the year it is normally impossible to reach the very top because of the amount of snow. It is possible throughout the year, even in winter, to climb as far as the barrier at 2,600m - as the road is always cleared up to this point.
Alternative RoutesThere are two alternative routes to climb Veleta. The route via Guejar Sierra is similar to this route but without the very steep section to Haza Llanas.
The other route begins further south in Monachil. It has different scenery from the start, with the views of Granada especially spectacular.
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Alto de Haza Llanas