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Monday
May082017

Climbing Mount  Teide

Tiede isn't really a hard climb unless you want it to be. This doesn't mean it's easy... it's just that there's quite a gap between Tiede and mountains which are hard climbs. The word 'really' is the key here. As far as technical climbing goes, even Everest isn't all that hard to climb (Annapurna is four times as deadly), it just takes an awful lot of time and effort. There's nothing technical involved in getting up Tiede if you pick the right route but that doesn't mean it's not a real challenge. After all, it's the tallest mountain in Spain.

Tiede is tall enough to be very cold at the top, and the air is thin enough to really notice a difference. It's getting hot here now, with the summer already having arrived. If you're going to climb Tiede in summer, you want to set out before dawn and aim to hit the top before mid-morning. This way, you also get to watch the sun rise over the national park as you climb, which is a pretty magical experience.

If the day is getting seriously hot by the time you get up there, you can always grab the cable car back down and spare yourself an uncomfortable descent. Realistically, you could get the cable car up there and climb the rest or just wander around near the top but that's obviously cheating. There's far, far more to be got out of a mountain than the view. While the panorama from Tiede is amazing, catching the cable car basically results in a lot of breathless wandering (because the speed of ascent doesn't give you a chance to acclimatize) before heading back down. From the cable car top station, you're about an hour from the top, so you can still have a little hike this way. No telling people you've climbed Tiede though.

Either way you'll want to grab yourself a free permit, otherwise you'll get within a few hundred vertical metres of the summit and feel pretty cheated when you get turned away. This is to protect the top of Tiede from all those tourists who want to stomp about on it.

On this route, you zigzag up on an easy gradient for quite a while, passing a bunch of massive black rocks which – a good while ago – were lobbed out of the crater to crash down on the slopes. The slopes get more and more bare and arid as you get higher up and the plants start giving up. At one point fairly early on, you wind up climbing on what was once a lava flow, which turns out being easier due to the path that's cut into it. You stomp past the refuge and pick up the Mirador path. At this point, the inevitable swarms of tourists provide great motivation to climb a little harder and have the trail – more or less – to yourself again.

The next landmark is the Teleferico and you know you're getting there. The summit path is right there and despite the exhaustion you're probably feeling by this point (your mileage may vary) you start getting excited to actually see the view from the top. Permits, passports and you're through the rope and onto the summit path, heading ever upward. This is where it gets steep. Fortunately it also gets pretty cold. Chances are you won't feel like wrapping up; by this point your body is trying to get rid of heat, not hang onto it. You might see a smattering of snow on the ground, even at this time of the year.

What you'll definitely see, though, is the view. It's pretty amazing. You can actually see most of Tenerife from up there; all the way to the coast despite Tiede being in the centre of the island. The landscape unfolds beneath you like, well, like the view from the top of a mountain. The cloud seas are now nearly two kilometres beneath you, vast and fluffy. You have this victorious feeling of having gone where most people lack the confidence to even try getting to. At this point you could have a thousand-odd words on how beautiful the view is but instead here's a piece of advise which will make that unnecessary: Do it! Tiede is visible from almost everywhere on the island, and once you've been up there you'll be reminded of that stunning view from the top every time you see it.

By Oscar Hawes - Field Communications Officer

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