Hiking and scrambling over seven peaks in Castilla y León
The tiny village of Maraña is sitting right at the feet of the main chain of peaks of the Mampodre range which tops out at a moderate 2.200 meters but boasts some very jagged and impressive walls - especially towards the north and Maraña. Before arriving I had seen that the Mampodre integral (aka traverse) is an established hiking / trail running / scrambling route and would provide a good chance to see a lot of the mountains in one go.
The route starts and ends at the mountain hut right next to the village and goes over seven peaks with 1.500 meters of climbing in 15 kilometers of distance. Most of the route is on hiking terrain (sometimes on quite loose scree and with bad consequences in case of a fall) and has some scrambly bits (of which the crux is a small bit of UIAA grade 4 ground). The circular route can be done in both directions: In my case I went clockwise which put the most technical bits in the first half and resulted in the scrambles being mainly downclimbs (not great but definitely doable).
All in all the route took me five hours including many photo stops and a lunch break on Pico de la Cruz. For reference the route described on wikiloc says something about 8 hours and the Fastest Known Time is 2 hours 15.
In the direction I took the route can be split into several parts (the pictures are of the respective parts):
- The easy hike up towards the Laguna de Mampodre.
- A 500 meter steep elevation climb onto the first peak. Note that there are two variants: One climbs directly from the Laguna up to Pico Valjarto and the other through a couloir a bit further east up to the same peak.
- The technical bits until Cervunal.
- A bit of more hiking terrain over Pico de La Cruz and La Polinosa.
- And finally the hike down through the Vallverde.
I can really recommend this loop for any ambitious hiker that likes to spend time alone in wild landscapes. I would just note that, even though there are a few really technical bits, a lot of ground is covered in „no fall“ terrain on sometimes questionable rock and scree.
PS: Funnily Anselmo, who is running the mountain hut, asked me when arrive if I was there for the „trail race“ (I had not even heard of!). I told him „no“ and he tried to convince me to sign up - however knowing the FKT of the traverse now I am happy to have declined (even though the race would have been on a different route)!