|The summit of Teide is small, so there is only a limited number of people who can fit.|
This summer started well for me - I went up Teide, the tallest mountain of the Canary Islands, Spain, and the entire Atlantic basin. Sounds impressive, right? Though of course, as mountains go, it is not that huge - under 4 km. Still, I have never been anywhere over 2000 metres before, so... I am really quite pleased with myself and with the way it went.
It was all a bit sudden. I was studying the Arawak webpage for a while, thinking that maybe one day I should do it, while we live here on the Canaries. When on a walk with Arawak, I spoke to our guide about the indicated level of difficulty (3+/4 out of 5, that's pretty high). He said that in his opinion I had nothing to worry about, level-wise, but that if I wanted to do it in June, I had to book immediately, because there were very few places left (like, two). I nodded along, still undecided. Later, on the bus back to Las Palmas, he fiddled with his phone, turned to me and said "You know what, I've booked you just in case. You can always cancel it". That was a "волшебный пендель" (magical kick in the butt that speeds you along), and the end of my hesitations.
|View towards the top from the upper cable car station. Not much left to ascend, but rather steep, don't you think?|
There are a few options, the obvious ones being:
Easy: get to 3555 metres by Teleferico (cable car). From there you can choose to get to the top (up 163 m, see the permit note above), enjoy the view right there at the observation platform or follow one of the two easy short and level routes (Mirador de Pico Viejo and/or Fortaleza). The cable car starts running quite late and stops early, so this option excludes watching sunset or sunrise if you go up and down on the same day. If from the cable car station you go a bit (well, about 300 metres) down to the Altavista refuge, spend the night there and go up to the top (about 450 m) in the morning, you will see both (save for when calima covers all). Permission to ascend before 9.00 am is automatically granted if you book your stay in Altavista.
|Ascent to Altavista by Montana Blanca route. First there is a slow ascent by a dirt road (seen middle left), followed by a much steeper serpentine mule track (where you see people).|
|Roque Cinchado, probably the most famous of all the Roques de Garcia. I was so tired by the time we got there, I didn't have any energy left to walk around it for the classic view with Teide in the background.|
Hard: Start from sea level, go back to sea level, all glorious 3718 m of up and down. I was told some (crazy, IMO) people do it in one day. Well, I mean, some (quite possibly the same) people run supermarathons in the mountains too. I strongly advise against this option.
The beauty of going with Arawak was that I didn't have to think of anything, almost. You do have to bring your own food and as much water as you can reasonably carry. There are vending machines at the refuge and there is also some stuff to buy at the cable car station, when open; both options expensive (vending machines at the refuge sell .5 bottle of water for 3 euros, to give you an idea). Arawak advises about 3 liters of water for the two-day route; sounds about right to me. The best food will be something dry; I don't eat instant noodles, but they worked just fine as a stop gap. Some biscuits for breakfast and you are all set basically.
|Triangular shadow of Teide on the clouds below. We almost missed it.|
|Blue gaps started to appear in the grayness of calima as we went up.|
|See the dark stones on the light mountain? They are Huevos del Teide.|
|The south slope variation of the same theme.|
|Argyranthemum tenerifae, marguerite of Teide|
Now, for the bad(ish) bits.
Even before coming to Tenerife I got a piece of advice which I didn't follow "go down by cable car, the descent is hard". I didn't take it, because I always tend to think "what if it is the most beautiful route (place, town, beach, etc.) on earth and I will miss it?".
Overall, I am happy I went all the way down on foot, because I now KNOW how it goes. It is indeed beautiful, no doubt about it. But:
My very sincere advice to you - whichever way you come up, go down either by Teleferico or by the path of Montana Blanca. Honestly. Especially in summer. Feel free to take it or ignore it (as I did).
|See the piles and piles of lava stones? The fist part of descent goes through something like this.|
|Surprisingly Fuerteventura-like orange badlands around Pico Viejo|
|Teide from the South|
Ok, that's my venting done. Overall, for the first ascent it's best to go with a group. If you want to come back for a top-up, you can always do it alone or with a very small group.
Aaanyway. I did it and now it is done and can't be undone :)
Photos of Tenerife on shutterstock - here