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Jose has been a mountaineering guide and climbing instructor for over 20 years. Born and raised in Alicante, Spain he’s been climbing and exploring the mountains since he was a teenager.
Introducing Jose Miguel
At 23 years old he moved from the city to the small village of Sella (560 people!) where he discovered a love of climbing. For the past 20 years, he’s been our go-to guy in the Sierra de Aitana, where he leads literally in the background of his house! We interviewed him to find out what makes him tick.
What is your favourite activity to do on your day off?
Having grown up around here, I love the Aitana region. I probably find the scramble up Bernia ridge the most fascinating activity of the week. It combines walking, climbing and abseiling with spectacular views. Also – it’s not easy, so you have the push to achieve it, with the drops, the height, and the views.
Trekking in Aitana
It is well-known that the Aitana region is beautiful around almond blossom time (usually late Jan to late Feb), but what is your favourite time of the year in the region?
At the end of May and early June, the summit of Aitana is transformed into a magical landscape when thousands of yellow and purple wildflowers bloom. At slightly lower altitude you have the normal Meditteranean flora (which is also beautiful), but the purple and yellow colours you get high on the mountain is really very unique.
After years of working by yourself, you went into partnership with your brother Antonio for 2016. You are both very different, how is it going?
We are indeed very different! Antonio comes from the business industry, he is very good with figures, accounting and logistics. As the younger brother, I would say I’m more adventurous, active and sporty; but not so good with numbers! We are both really sociable and a really good match, we respect each other, but most importantly we both have the same long term view – that we want to create trips that will make people happy!
You have worked with Exodus now for 20 years, and before that you worked in a climbers bunkhouse for a while and were involved in personally way marking many of the mountain trails in the region. What do you do with your free time these days?
After completing the renovation of my house a few years ago, I’m working hard to learn how to become a good farmer, and how to live off my land. There’s a real art to it, but I love to be able to go out of my door in July and get my own tomatoes, or eat my satsumas in the wintertime.
I also really enjoy working with stone and wood – these are skills that are really relevant to traditional farming. I’m also involved in the social movement for the soberanía alimentaria (food sovereignty), which focuses on sustainable development and food security and encourages local food production.
I am an activist member of the permanent committee of Alicante and also belong to the Valencian association for the protection of ‘local seeds’. True to the principles of food sovereignty, I grow my own organic vegetables and try to live in an environmentally sound way.
Away from the mountain scene, my personal hobbies include Latin jazz music; I particularly like Cuban music. I play the conga drums in our local jazz band and with other Latin musicians in jam sessions.
Your Words, Not Ours
‘Our local guide Jose Miguel was hardworking, charming and courteous with a profound knowledge of and passion for his home area. His magical rucksack produced homegrown olives and many treats for hungry walkers to supplement the plentiful packed lunches.
The little extras were great too – the Spa and local museum in Castells, the rock climbing or shopping trip on the free day and the local Spanish band on the final night with Jose on the drums!’ Paul McCormack
‘Jose brought us oranges from his garden, invited us to his home for coffee and to see the renovation work that he had carried out, arranged a guided tour of a village olive pressing factory and went to a lot of trouble to ensure that we were all able to do different things on the free day.’ Judith Horsnell
If you’d like to meet Jose for yourself, take a look at our tour below and plan your trip.