We recently went on an exbedition to climb Montana Roja, the Red Mountain. Amazing views, solid exercise and great weather all included but Red Mountain is not a hill and not quite a mountain.
All mountains seem to look bigger from the bottom than they do from the top. There's probably a reason for this which has more to do with geometry and perspective than it has to do with the feeling that 'I'm about to climb that?' Tiede looks a lot like an epic climb, probably because it's more than twice the size of e.g. Snowdon.
Red Mountain looks pretty small from any perspective. It's very red, but the 'mountain' part is a little less credible. We first glimpsed it from the bus, cutting its shape against the seascape. After we'd passed Golf de Sur (perhaps the greenest place in the south of Tenerife) Red Mountain swung around in front and we had a while to stare and think 'well that's pretty.'
Most of the business of climbing Red Mountain is actually circumnavigating a wildlife park to get to the base. When you do start climbing, there's a good long bit of slope before it turns into a proper hike. About a third of the way up, you run into natural staircases of rock and the climb gets a bit more vertical. And then, expecting to be about halfway up, you look up and see the peak right there.
It's definitely not a disappointment to realize that you're already at the top, as the views from Red Mountain are pretty amazing. To the east and west, the coastline disappears over the horizon. Directly to the north, planes leap into the air from the airport which is hidden even from the peak. Behind the airport, hundreds of square kilometres of Tenerife stretch to the chain of rather larger mountains that contain Tiede (soon!). You also get that wonderful effect, looking down on the nearest town, of seeing the true scale of El Medano and realizing that it's one of those towns with a lot of waterfront and plenty of big buildings which is nevertheless pretty tiny.
Some people hate climbing down mountains, personally I feel like most of the effort has already happened by that point. What you do get going down which you didn't get when you were climbing is that instead of staring at the side of a mountain you're looking out over this beautiful panorama which seems to contain a little bit of everything. Red Mountain would be a fantastic first climb for anyone who's never given hiking a go, and equally a great relaxing stomp for those who've already scaled rocks several times the size. Personally, I'll definitely be scaling this particular rock again as soon as I can.
By Oscar Hawes - Field Communications Officer
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