Calar Alto s(u)

The first time I saw the summit of Calar Alto, I really had no idea what I was looking at. I didn't know, that I was looking at one of the reasons why I wanted to bike along the dessert valley of the Rio Nacimiento. Shining in perfectly blue polarized light a strange manmade object sat on top of a breadloaf shaped ridge. It did not look very high on this perfectly clear day. But it actually reaches above 2000 meters, and it is the highest peak in the Sierra Filabres. The strange looking little dot on top is a telescope. Also the word peak should not be taken literally.

I have used the pictures of panoramio and flickr contributors, as well as other web sites to illustrate this page. There are copyright notices and links  to all original pictures. My own pictures were on a computer, that was stolen at the train station Frankfurt Airport (model Acer Aspire One (serial# NUSGPAA01625101C947600F)


1.(00.0km,0750m)START-END WEST: road to Calar Alto crosses A92, east of Gergal
2.(06.0km,970m)turnoff to Aulago
4.(32.4km,1970m)Venta Luisa crossing
5.(47.1km,0940m)jct with road to Olula de Castro and Alto de Castro Filabres on left
6.(51.8km,0730m)START-END EAST: jct A1178 - A92, immediately east of Gergal


From West.
By the next day I have found a cozy suite in an old posada, that has a colonial feel to it. At the turnoff before the climb I now have a completely different picture of the scene. The top is shredded in dense clouds, and gloves are mandatory equipment today. It is not a day for sightseeing. I don't remember exactly how many cars I see before getting to the top, but it is definitely less than 5. Still there is evidence that this a really popular cycling summit. Signs directed at cyclists show the grade of each km ahead and the remaining elevation and distance to the summit.

The white village maze of Aulago seems deserted. It is a very different scene than the pictures of this village that are linked below. Behind it is a green dessert pyramid, that ends in the clouds above it. Soon I am riding in the clouds also, Twice the wind tears them open, and opens a window on a far sweeping landscape. The soup closes in again and I see just enough to realize that I am now riding surrounded by trees. At the top the clouds tear open again, but just enough to show several telescopes as jagged white shapes. To me the scene is actually more impressive than the alternative, the silent perfect blue sky. A plague tells of the history of the telescope.

Copyrights below pictures:

              piclink    incipiam    (flickr)

             piclink    Jorge Cavarjal    (panoramio)

            piclink    chimo943      (panoramio)

             piclink     carlos iborra   (flickr)

             piclink      Namanhar   (Panoramio)

From East. (described downwards) A short straight roll along the bumpy, not too narrow, old road leads to the signed intersection Venta de Luisa, and the road is already back in the forest, even though still at an elevation just barely under 2000 meters. On the roll back down I pass a mirador, but the view dissolves into white. By the time I get into a lower forests my gloves are not not enough any more to keep my fingers from getting numb and I start shaking the handlebars. But this goes away as fast as it came. Back down in Gergal, all is warm and well.

Calar Alto Observatory; public domain through wikipedia

Dayride with this summit as highest point:


( < Puerto Santillana | Puerto de Velefique > )
Calar Alto s(u) , Coll Venta Luisa s(u) : Gergal > up Al4404 > Calar Alto s(u) > Venta Luis(sh) <> out and back north on A1178 and down A5407 with turnaround point to one of the first spots where Bacares becomes visible below > down A1178 > back to Gergal: r5:16.4,5.
Notes: Computer with gps data was stolen at Frankfurt airport train station


The Telescope: The site is a cooperation between the German Max Planck Institute and the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalucia. The first telescope was erected in 1975/76. It is the largest telescope maintained in mainland Europe. But there are larger ones on the Balearic island La Palma. By today four more telescope structures have been built on Calar Alto.

cLiCk on image , arrows , or thumbnails to advance slideshow