On Top of the World in Tenerife

Mon, November 22nd, 2010 - By Gary

The brochure had promised two weeks in Tenerife relaxing around the pool, sipping cocktails, while soaking up the famous Canarian sunshine.

“You won’t like it, it’s not your type of place”, I was advised by friends, aware of my love of the outdoors.

In a way they were right. I soon became bored with sitting around a pool, which is why after a few days, I found myself struggling up the flank of Spain’s highest mountain.

At over 12,000ft the huge volcano Teide is the centre-piece of the surreal volcanic world to be found in the island’s Las Cañadas National Park. Perhaps age should have instilled a bit more wisdom but fast forward thirteen years and having moved to live full time on the island, I once again found myself gasping for breath on the side of my volcanic nemesis as my heart pounded in my chest like a jackhammer.

The five hour trek to the summit is made difficult by the rarified air and this coupled with the drive from sea level to the start of the walk, combine to make a huge height gain in a very short space of time, giving the body little time to adapt.
Many climbers take the option to break the walk in two by spending the night at over 10,000ft in the Altavista Refuge, before setting off in the early hours to catch the sunrise from the summit.
Having spurned this sensible option, I struggled past the refuge and was encouraged to see two young hikers, probably half my age, sitting on a rock and gasping for breath as they acknowledged my presence with a weary sigh, “It’s hard, isn’t it?”, they gasped. My weary nod of agreement gave them their answer.

After wheezing asthmatically for an eternity through the frozen sea of lava, I eventually reached the La Rambleta pathway. This mostly level path boasts excellent viewpoints for those taking the easy option of ascending the mountain by cable-car but now provided me with a temporary respite from the steep climb as I plodded slowly to the final ascent path. I stumbled up this last 200 metres like a drunk heading for home until finally, there was no land left to climb. I was on the summit.
It’s an odd sensation being alone on top of the world with no other land close by and I stood hypnotised by a sea of cloud washing against the island far below as occasional puffs of sulphurous fumes assailed my nostrils.

As I started my descent, thoughts of relaxing around the pool in the sun with a cool drink resurfaced as I looked wistfully at the now closed cable-car station and thought that maybe those taking the easy option had the right idea after all.

Posted : Monday, November 22nd, 2010 at 11:54 am
Category : things to do
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11 Responses to “On Top of the World in Tenerife”

  1. Rafa Torres says:

    Welcome to the REAL Tenerife!
    It bums me out when I hear that tourist come to the island and never leave the hotel.

    I know the case of a lady who had come 18 years in a row and had never seen anything outside Las Americas and Los Cristianos.

    • Gary Rosson says:

      I agree, I think it’s a shame that for some people, Tenerife begins and ends with the big resorts in the south. There is so much more to this wonderful island. The good thing is that Tenerife is diverse enough to cater for all types of holidaymaker.

  2. Michael says:

    I went halfway up Mount Teide 2 years ago, only wish I could have gone all the way – maybe next time.
    The island of my dreams.

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  5. […] an explosion of vegetables and flowers. The views out to the coast of Garachico are inspiring and Mount Teide looms large in the background; it’s a world away from the tourist resorts of Los Cristianos and […]

  6. […] the promenade from where, on a clear day, Mount Teide beckons on the horizon, you can’t miss the flower laden balconies of Casa de los Balcones […]

  7. […] of the family and the last time it erupted was in 1909. Although the mind instantly switches to Mount Teide, in fact there hasn’t been an eruption in Teide National Park since 1798 when Pico Viejo […]

  8. […] extraordinary landscapes, Tenerife can hold its head high thanks to the drama and beauty of Mount Teide and Teide National Park with its stunning rock formations and kaleidoscope of volcanic fallout. But […]

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