UK Mountains Walking, Mountaineering and Equipment Reviews
Teide
Teide

Teide is the highest mountain in the Spainish territories at 3,718m and is actually on the island of Tenerife which is one of the Canary Islands off the West coast of Northern Africa. To climb it is free but you do need to obtain a permit for the final 200m of ascent to the summit crater. On this, my first ascent and reccee I hadn't been able to obtain a permit as there were none left for the two weeks I was on the island which meant my high point would be the upper cable car station. The permits are free and are available from a website.

Tenerife

I was up for 6am and out by 6:30am to drive the hour or so to the car park at the bottom of the main footpath for Teide. I parked up about 7:40am and was away by 7:50am which was just about light at this time of year (October), although the path is easy to follow initially so could be done in the dark if necessary. The car park is amazingly small considering it forms the start of the most popular route, in fact there is room for just 12-14 cars, but it is free and there are several other car parks not too far distant in both directions.

The signpost claims 5 1/2 hours from the car park to the summit - we will see!

The start of the walk follows the route to Montana Blanca (2,748m) which is pretty easy going and steadily upwards. It was pretty cold so I had tracksters plus a t-shirt with hoodie and windproof top and given that I was walking uphill at a good pace and I wasn't feeling hot shows just how cold it was. On the way up the path passes the famous 'Teide Eggs' which are huge Basalt boulders thrown out by the volcano and like snowballs, picked up more molten rock as they rolled down the hill, finally coming to rest at about 2,500m. Standing about 8-10ft high, they are impressive and one can't help wondering what would happen if they started rolling again!

After about an hour the path splits; to the left is the route to Montana Blanca, a recognised peak of its own and to the right the path to Teide which takes a sharp right and very steeply up, zig-zagging as it goes through the black lava, eventually arriving at the Refuge hut after another hour. There is only one route and it would be a brave man that decided to go off-route in amongst the loose solid lava blocks.

It had been raining and even hailing plus strong wind making it a serious climb. I decided to rest a while at the hut but it seemed closed so I found the lee side and took a break as I was feeling the effects of altitude and the rapid ascent. Looking down, there were incredible views of the Teide Caldera and the tear-drop shaped path that goes up to and around Montana Blanca, but curiously not onto the actual summit - no doubt every walker goes 'off route' for the final few metres to the real summit.

Pushing on I headed up into worsening weather noticing that the hailstones were freezing into ice, making it even harder. Finally I reached my high point after a further 45 minutes where the path turned left to Las Ramblas but as I tried to follow the path my progress was stopped by the wind and ice making me slip backwards. I decided to turn back at this point as I was at least as high as the cable car station and realized there was no chance to summit - the combination of weather and no permit stopped me although I doubted anyone would be too worried about the number of people summitting today; the cable car was closed and I had hardly seen anyone all morning, let alone the 200 that were permitted each day. Straight ahead there was the vague outline of a path, but having checked the map earlier it was much steeper and seemed to be much less well used, which would have been just silly in the current conditions.

Teide

The return trip was if anything harder as the ice caused me to go very slowly down to the hut again. After that it got easier but the track was sloppy with loose stones. I stopped in a shelter for lunch and a traditional shot of 'JD' from my trusty hip flask, feeling quite good and surprisingly warm. That all changed as soon as I moved off, I hit the teeth of a gale and spent the remainder of the descent to the car walking directly into the wind, sometimes raining as well making for a cold and at times painful descent as the rain hit like bullets, even down on the Montana Blanca path it was tough going with the wind every bit as strong.

I got back to the car around 13:00 which meant I had been out walking for just over 5 hours, so the 5 1/2 hours for the summit trip was a little generous for my pace, but everyone is different and I hadn't done the final 200m. Despite Tenerife being off the coast of Africa and generally having a very mild climate, Teide itself can have a climate all of its own and should not be underestimated at any time of the year. It had been a great climb, I had managed to get higher than I had originally thought I would and gave me good experience for the full ascent of the volcano early in 2015, for which I will have a permit and be fully prepared for an ascent to the summit. See the report here

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