We’ve just got back from Tenerife, where I went to the highest peak in Spain, Mount Teide. Last time I went up to the summit and returned in one day, this time the plan was different. I wanted to see sunrise from the top, this meant a stay in the refuge at 3270m. Then instead of coming back down by the same route I went West to Pico Viejo, before dropping down to the Rocks de Garcia near the Parador.
The Cicerone guide said there was buses to the mountain, this was hopelessly optimistic, there is one a day each way. So timings fell to this restriction. It meant no worries about parking or getting back to car after a linear walk. The driver was friendly and dropped walkers of at various points on the way up.
Any walk on the Canaries is a walk on volcanic rock, Teide last erupted in the 1700s and is still active. On the summit there is steam, sulphur vents and holes letting out warm air. The whole landscape is cracked and broken or fine pumice.
Climbing first from sea level to 2300m in the bus, then setting out on the Montana Blanca path for the refuge can leave you with acclimatization problems, The refuge is at 3300m, just high enough to get lower levels of air into your lungs, I was panting and drinking as much as I could all the way.
The heat, the altitude, and the way it just keeps going. All play a part in the challenge of this mountain. The rewards of the views to every part of the island keep you headed upwards. It is a quiet place, there are others on the track, but many will arrive later to head for the refuge, avoiding the heat of the day. I had three litres of water in my bag, as well as food for two days. and warmer clothes for the summit in the morning.
There is wildlife and vegetation to be found here, these flowers and others seen in later pictures. Plus the Tenerife lizards you hear scuttling away as you wander by. Soon you start to see the lava flows, and Teide’s eggs. Lava snowballs that have rolled away from the main flows. All the while climbing, getting above the level of Montana Blanca and seeing the landscape open around you.
The slope stays fairly constant, and you are restricted to the path, to protect the landscape. Although the path is simply rough stone, and gravel it can be hard on the feet. The air is arid and thin, and little wind disturbs you on the climb.
Arriving at the refuge, knowing this time I would be staying here for the night was a welcome thought, I don’t know how many can sleep here, about fifty plus at a guess. This evening there was a mixed bag of about twenty-five. Arriving at various times through the afternoon.
As far as it went, the place was clean and tidy, plenty of space, pas as you go internet access. The downside was no drinking water, only bottled water in a machine, expensive. All the supplies came this way, including biscuits, sweets, chocolate and other fizzy drinks. All at inflated prices, a shame as everything else was well set up. We had about 14 beds in our room, which was filled. Others placed in adjacent rooms as they arrived. Sleeping arrangements are as usual in these places mixed, be prepared is the best option, or not to be overly shy. The most important thing is a pair of earplugs if you are a light sleeper. The nightly noises of strangers can be frustrating when you have an early start the next day.
All around the refuge are striking rock formations and wild flowers. The sunset, watching the shadow of the mountain creep across the landscape below kept me enthralled for a while and the changing light made the crater below light up.
With night falling, a glass of wine provided by a friendly islander, things eventually settled down for the night. Tomorrow was to be an early start, another 500m of ascent ready for sunrise on the summit. I think though this has gone on long enough and you can see more next time. The shock of me before sunrise, the top of a volcano, and the descent across flows of lava, cracked and tumbling down the sides of Teide.
Have fun on the journey, there’s no other way to enjoy it.