Thursday, 25 September 2014

Tenerife - Climbing Mount Teide

As our second wedding anniversary was nearing I was looking for a suitable mountain to climb. Given that we’re living in Tenerife at the moment what other mountain could be better for the purpose than the highest point in Spain and Europe’s highest volcano, Mount Teide? On Friday afternoon we drove up to the Parador which is the closest hotel to the volcano therefore the perfect place to get used to the altitude. The drive is said to be spectacular as it leads you through Monte Esperanza however we didn’t see anything as it was all covered in a thick layer of cloud! We were seriously worried about our hike next day.

We needn’t have worried because as we drove higher and higher we gradually left the clouds behind. By the time we got there the cloud had disappeared and we did our first walk in the area around Los Roques de García.

On Saturday morning we got up and drove to the start of the climb to Montaña Blanca which is not far from the Cable Car. What we didn´t realise was that there are only about 10 spaces in the car park! We got there by 9.30 and by then it was full. Luckily somebody was just leaving so we quickly got in.

We followed the Nr. 7 trail which seems to be the most popular route around. The first part was easy enough, we just followed the jeep track that gently ascended on the side  of the volcano. The views were spectacular around us.

We passed the ´Teide Eggs´. These huge lava rocks are volcanic ´balls´ that are slowly rolling down the side of the volcano.

Soon the gentle curves ended and we looked up with consternation at the next part of the climb. While we waited for the trail runners to get down (seemed extremely dangerous!) we prepared ourselves for the steep zigzag route that wound its way up. Couple that with the fact that thanks to the altitude you don´t get your usual amount of oxygen and suddenly the speed of the walk slows down significantly. We took quite a lot of breather stops.

This part ends at 3260m at the aptly named Refugio Altavista (High View) where we took shelter from the wind and had a few minutes break while munching on a cereal bar. It is possible to sleep over here but it is essential to reserve. It is managed by the same company as the Cable Car. Check out this website for the details, complete with a webcam of the crater.

From here our map showed us a suspiciously straight line. Yup, the route was straight. Straight up! It seriously felt like a trudge but with every step we were closer to the viewpoint. Luckily this part is quite short so soon we were having our lunch at the mirador on 3550m looking up at the last bit of the climb.

Unfortunately it is not possible to go all the way up to the crater for everybody, only 50 permits are released per day. We didn´t want to reserve it too far in advance in case the weather turns bad but it also meant that we missed our chance and couldn´t do the last bit. You can reserve yours here. Apparently you only need a permit from 9 in the morning so if you sleep in the Refugio you have a chance to make it up before.

After our lunch we slowly made our way to the cable car to buy our tickets. While we were waiting in the line we were amazed to see how many tourists come up here right from the beach wearing flip-flops and bikinis under their summer tops. People, you’re up at 3550m! It’s cold at this altitude!

While slowly riding the cable car down we looked around once more and vowed that we’ll be back, next time with a permit!

There are many websites and blogs dedicated to this route. I found this website quite good and detailed. It’s in Spanish but with the help of Google Translator I’m sure you can get the gist of it. 

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