Walks: Mount Teide, up one side, down the other

 

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click for bigger… some fog on the mountain going up

bear with me here… this is sort of a long post, it was a long trek!

Walk:
Up and down Mt Teide, various routes and paths, 2 days
Day 1. walking from 11:30 am til 5pm
Day 2. Walking from 5:30 am til 1:30pm

Total elevation reached: 3718 mtrs, it is, and I quote from Wikipedia!… the third highest volcano on a volcanic ocean island in the world

Total distance: around 22km, ( that being said, each kilometre felt like two and it was no where near the nice gentle forest walks of La Caldera the week before) this was seriously brutal stuff.

My phone died shortly into the second leg, day 2 so I have no reading for that but the path is a certain length. my route tracker only caught the first bit going to the pico on day 2.
Water consumption: 3.5 litres, 2 days… not as much as I would like but you have to carry it all with you and it’s hard to carry too much.

Getting there: 348 bus from Puerto de la Cruz, leaves at 9:15 and there is ONE bus a day so if you miss it… you’re out of luck, get there early and cue, people do tend to push and shove though so if you have a reservation for the cable car or the refuge just bear this in mind. Also, it’s not cheap , at least a tenner  each way so you will need cash … make sure you take cash in coins for the refugio vending machines and the bus back.
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Here’s an exceptionally good ( very rubbish)  video of the bus trip going up from Puerto De La Cruz.

 

 

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day 1 walk to the refugio
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as you can see, it got REALLY steep really quickly, this was not counting  the 3k from the cable car station to the trail head so in all 11.28 k
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the start of the trek up the mountain in the morning, my phone died and of course it stopped tracking
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the refugio on the map
The hobbits have got NOTHING on me, nothing at all, their little stroll to the jewellers was just that, nothing as epic as the walking and climbing I did over the two days I spent (mostly) up the mountain…volcano… volcountain.

Initially I had planned to take the cable car up to the, well cable car platform, wander a round a bit, stay at the refuge over night then climb to the peak in the morning, walk back down…. so easy! I’m incredibly glad I did not whimp out and get the cable car, the walking is the whole point.

I walked the 3k up the road from where the bus drop you at the cable car station to the trail head to start the walk to the refugio. ( which I reached 5 hours later) there was no hurry.

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The first part of the walk up to the refuge was about 9 kilometres but in parts it felt far longer, some of the terrain is extremely craggy and rocky and difficult to walk on, especially towards the end as the trail takes a sharp turn upwards and it is a path best suited to mountain goats.

It is a very desert like environment and reminiscent of parts of California and Australia, beautiful wide landscpaes with clouds coming over the mountains and volcanic debris all over the place. I took enough food and water for two days out in the heat and for hard walking and am glad I did, I was out by the time we finished.

The volcano is very much alive and the mineral rich landscape and slopes support some fantastic brightly coloured flowers, in all honestly I did not take as many pictures as usual, certainly not on the way back down as my knees were shot and I was feeling like the Everest explorers of old, done in, utterly spent.

So part way into the first leg I met up with a slightly older German lady and we just sort of walked together the rest of the way which was nice, stopping for snacks and pictures and a bit of scenery admiring along the way, personally I think it’s good to go on this trek with someone else as you never know what may happen.

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It was tiring and enjoyable at the same time and there were a few people who seemed ill prepared, a few were smoking which I can’t understand, you need all the breath you have and more, as the elevation increases the air decreases so it gets harder to breathe the higher you go.
I love volcanic rocks, they look like bread dough and sometimes you think you can just kneed it but of course.. those days are passed.

So yeah, rather uneventful few hours walking until we got to the last “going up bit” before the refuge, it is, like I said, for goats… steep and windy and very craggy, we were feeling it by this point and ready for a sit down at the refuge, so the sight of the pole that signifies it was so welcomed, we egged each other on, waited for each other and generally got it done together. The last stretch dropped us into cloud at the refuge and it was lovely, really nice to have it cool down.. and because I am stupid I left my sunscreen at home and was seriously sunburned on my face at this point.. it hurt. Take sunscreen, do not be like me.
I say uneventful but really it was a magnificent walk, got harder as it went on of course and by the time I reached the refuge I said to my self… this is the hardest hike I have ever done… little did I know I was barely half way into the whole thing.  I do mean tough, all uphill, loose rock and and uneven ground, hot sun but well worth it. the scenery alone was worth it and it is always a pleasure to be somewhere as magnificent as this, Tenerife is such a place of contrasts and for such a small island this is really something.

 

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The Refuge, a sight for sore legs, and feet, and faces, and whole bodies.

The Altavista Refuge hosts around 50 people per night in dorms and has a couple of odd quirks, for example the entrance hall where the vending machines and a few seats are opens at 11 am I think, the toilets however do not open til 5 so…. yeah I really don’t know what that’s about. I suspect it may be so that people who have got the cable car up and are walking back down don’t just pop in to use the loo… that could be entirely falso thought, I really don’t know. The kitchen area opens at the same time so you can go sit at a table, eat, have a drink and chill. It’s nice because people meet and talk and it’s all very chummy and sociable, people all congratulating the next ones up the hill when they’ve made it! 2 hours later at 7 they open the bedrooms so everyone is just chilling out, drinking a little wine and getting to know each other til the guardia comes to give bed allocations, by this point I was in a little gang so my walking companion wanted us to all bunk together so that was good..

no one slept very well although it is really warm and very comfy it was just hard to sleep.. thin air perhaps or whatever but no, no sleep, except of course for a couple of guys snoring across the room. Our room held 16 beds in double bunks.

 

So after a comfy, warm but essentially sleepless night we were up at 5 for a quick breakfast and out the door for the climb to the peak.
It was dark for the first hour of the walk so flashlights are a must, and good ones. It was pretty cold but quite exciting seeing the line of lights snaking up the track from the flashlights, of course the further up we went the colder it got and the ice was starting to be everywhere so not only was it getting colder but slippery, needless to say I didn’t get any photos at this point, it was just a mission.

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view down from the cable car station, this was on our way back down from the peak, a good spot to stop and regroup, drink water.. all of which was frozen!
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looking down on the way back down, round 8 am

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The winds were picking up and it was getting pretty dangerous as we got closer to the peak, there were a few people who didn’t want to risk going up and fair enough, it was scary as hell in places as the gusts of wind nearly picked people up a few times, this combined with the slippery ice and ice covered handrails made it hard. I didn’t think I would get up alive at some points and questioned continuing but kept on. Gotta keep going eh, mountains won’t climb themselves.

So there was an overwhelming smell of suplher from the crater as it is still alive and the smell is sickening, like rotten eggs.

I think it took us 2 hours in all from the refuge to the peak so it was a great achievment to get there and what a beautiful sight it was, seeing the shadow the mountain casts and the sunrise from the top was something else indeed. I will probably never do it again but who knows, better prepared and maybe yeah, why not.

 

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a quickly captured phone shot, too cold and windy and difficult to mess with a camera

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this was before it got really cold,  before the banks of ice

 

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rushed cold mobile phone shot
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The mountain casts a shadow over the ocean
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all frozen

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rushed cold mobile phone shot

 

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there was no time for cameras and shot framing, too cold so I just snapped these really quick with my phone, that’s why they are wobbly and blurry and bad

We stayed up at the peak for about 10 minutes marvelling at the view and the fact we made it up there at all, it was 5 below freezing Celsius up there so not altogether glorious.. we  then began the rather scary descent, but without a freezing wind in our faces it was surprisingly alright, we arrived at the cable car station where most climbers stop for a refresh and there are a few trail heads that go from there so we decided on the one that goes past Pico Viejo and leads you out through the main part of the park at the end and leads to the Parador.  A place with beer and coffee and chairs, basically heaven.

So we started down a very rocky path ( see a pattern here) and it was still freezing so we just headed out toward Pico Viejo, this path and terrain was really like being on the moon and the path of rocks were piled up so high you weren’t walking on ground at all, just high rocks, a slightly weird feeling but not so bad.  It is such wild and unforgiving but beautiful land.
It was, again not easy and we hopped, scrambled, clung on, climbed, slid, fell, tripped, froze, ate lunch on the moon, had all our water and food frozen, almost got frostbite, got sunburn, froze, boiled and everything in between, walked and clambered our way from bottom to top and top to bottom of this incredibly beautiful mountain.

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the group of lovely German people I walked with
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Lava flows towards the end of our walk
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doesn’t look so bad from here

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the moon, basically

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So by the end of the 2 days I can honestly say that was the hardest walking/hiking and climbing I have ever done in my life, ever and the most rewarding, it was so worth it, this type of thing is the main reason I came to Tenerife and not to a city for my Erasmus, this island is incredibly diverse and beautiful and here is proof, frozen peaks, desert landscapes, an hour drive and a beach, another hour and a mountain range and surf the likes of which you’ll not see anywhere. This place has everything and every new place I go confirms the fact that I don’t really want to be anywhere else. Teide is incredible, go there.. but if you are going to do the walk up, stay over then walk down do pick a different route down, be prepared with plenty of food and water and nothing to heavy and make sure you have the right gear, gloves and a woolly hat are essential as well as as sunscreen and good boots.

so that was an adventure, a great one.

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