Pico del Veleta (Monachil)
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This is the second hardest route to climb to Pico del Veleta on a road bike. The gradients, particularly on the lower slopes, are inconsistent and very steep in places. There are some short downhill sections about half way up the climb, but these just make the subsequent kilometres even steeper!
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 section on the GR-410 heading out of Monachil has very little traffic throughout the year. Once you join the A-395 the amount of cars increases slightly (particularly in winter when the ski resort is fully open), but it is not enough to be annoying and the width of the road allows cars to give you a very wide berth.
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.
This route to Pico del Veleta begins in the town of Monachil, situated to the south-east of Granada. It follows the GR-410 heading east out of Monachil. At the junction with the A-395 you turn right and follow the road up to the Sierra Nevada ski resort. From here continue following the signs to Veleta.
At around 2,500m altitude you will reach a barrier. Continue under the barrier and climb the remaining 11km to the peak.
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.
This is probably the least popular route up the climb, but it is no less spectacular than the approach from Guejar Sierra. As soon as you leave Monachil you are thrown into the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada National Park, with superb views of Granada over your shoulder.
The scenery is spectacular throughout, with the only slighty eyesore being the ski resort at 2,000m altitude.
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 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 also passes through Guejar Sierra, but doesn't have the very steep sections that you find on this route and on the route via Haza Llanas.
Nearby ClimbLa Zubia
Collado de Quentar
Alto de Haza Llanas