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Climbing Los Riscos - Or rather, do not climb Los Riscos

SPAIN | Tuesday, 13 May 2014 | Views [626]

Los Riscos, Cartajima

Los Riscos, Cartajima

The stones were bouncing down along the mountainside. I pressed my body against the rugged mountain, panting. My hand grabbing the edge of my phone which moments before had been sliding down towards the steep drop before me.

           For a long time I had kept fooling myself that there had been a path before me. A path that had been treaded by many a walker.  Sure, I had found it strange when I could not find anywhere to get passed the wire fence and I had to crawl under it. Pressing down my weight into the red dirt and dragging my camera along by its chord.  But there had always looked like there had been a path, an upset in the red dirt indicating that it had been trampled only moments before.  But I did not wonder when the path had disappeared as I reached the square stone blocks that made up Los Riscos. So I had climbed, resting in the shade of the scarce trees I could find, crawling in under outshoots of rock which gave a moment of escape from the scorching sun.  After little more than an hour I had reached the top. I welcomed the vigorous breeze that awaited me there and for some moments all I could do was to sit. Sit and watch the valley far below as the rugged cliffs above ripped into the blue sky. Forcing myself to get up before I got too tired to leave I jumped the crags, carefully making my way down to a dip between two peaks.  The stone that surrounded me was so strange, it reminded me of a jigsaw puzzle. It had split into pieces with sharp edges but still remained attached until you reached out and removed a slot, which you could then put back where you got it and leave the puzzle just as you had found it. At the same time it had the appearance of honeycomb. Large rounded cavities and caves hollowed the stone and exposed their interior as honey coloured, a sharp contrast to the storm grey colour of the stone surface. In the small valley between the two peaks, several levels had been fenced of by round-stone walls and several round-stone mounds were located before the remains of a round-stone enclosure. I was struck by the strangeness of the location for what looked like ancient fields. I was far above the civilization below, any remnant of a path I had long since left behind and the only signs I had seen of life had been isolated to mountain goat excrement. It had been their paths that I had followed in the misguided belief that they would take me to safety. The view from the ruins was staggering, far below the two mountainsides converged creating a gulf in which a white village shone against an expanse of green chestnut trees. My desire was to continue upwards, wishing that against all hopes there would be a manmade path across the next mountain ridge. However, the clock was relentlessly moving towards five and I remained hours from home. After a short rest in one of the caves I had decided to attempt to descend. Initially I had not thought that it would be that hard, getting up had, after all, not been that hard, only draining.  As it would appear climbing down a steep crumbling rock face is quite a different matter to getting up. So now I was standing on a narrow ledge, desperately clinging on to the mountainside, the edge of my escaping phone under my fingertips. The avalanche of stones was just quieting.  My heart beating so hard my fingertips were vibrating.

For a long time I had had belief that all would be well. Now all I had was fear. Fear and the knowledge that I might never get down.

Tags: andalucia, cartajima, climbing, hiking, los riscos, off road, trekking

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