updated 8/16/2007 4:09:14 PM ET 2007-08-16T20:09:14

Police on Thursday detained a 27-year-old immigrant from the heart of Africa who was found wandering without food or water near the snow-dusted peak of mainland Spain’s highest mountain, officials said.

A group of climbers first discovered the man from Mali walking Wednesday on a 11,000-foot peak called Veleta in the Sierra Nevada range of southern Spain.

They brought the man to a shelter where he was given food and water, and the man asked that the police not be notified.

The young man was soon on his way again, this time approaching the top of mainland Spain’s tallest mountain, 11,400-foot Mulhacen. A forest ranger found him and took him to a nearby town, where police were notified.

Police are trying to identify the man and discover what he was doing up in the mountains without provisions or equipment. If found to be in Spain illegally he could be deported.

Spain’s highest mountain is Mt. Teide in the Canary Islands, at 12,188 feet.

More than 24,000 Africans were caught trying to reach the Canary Islands last year after sailing from West Africa in crowded boats. The islands are a jumping-off point for migrants trying to reach mainland Europe.

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