Wednesday, 23 December 2009

An Attempt on Teide...

Last Sunday (20th December) I attempted to climb Mount Teide with a group of good friends. Mount Teide is the highest mountain in Spain and the highest free-standing volcano in the Atlantic Ocean. It rises nearly 3,800 metres above sea-level. So it is not the easiest hike.

We had a Land Rover booked out for the day and drove up winding roads and passed some amazing alpine scenery before we emerged out at an altitude of around 2,000 metres. Here the landscape changed drastically as the pine trees were replaced by low shrubs which in turn gave way to a barren, lunar-like landscape.

The weather, whilst warm and sunny in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, was cold with a sharp wind blowing. There were some threatening clouds, and the peak of Teide was barely visible. Conditions also meant that the cableway was closed. We parked a few kilometres back from the lower cableway station and started our climb.

The hike started on a gradual path that curved upwards through volcanic rock and dust, eventually coming out at the base of the volcano itself. I was amazed at how hard my legs were having to work. It felt as if they were made of lead. But that was the effect of the altitude. I have never done exercise over 2,000 metres!

After a while we started up a steeper path that cut its way up the mountain, following the course of an old lava flow. However, by this time the weather was closing in and time was working against us. A group of us turned back after two-and-a-half hours of hiking (it is a six-hour hike) and we abandoned our chance of ascending the mountain. Heading down the wind chill factor (the temperature was probably between 0 and 5 degrees Celcius with the wind chill factor) really started to have an effect and I was freezing by the time we got back to our trusty Land Rover.

That being said, despite the disappointment of not being able to get to the top, Sunday was a fun day spent in the company of wonderful friends who have been real blessings to me over the past months and even years. And anyway, there is always January to try again and be sure that I will be there to capture the moment. So be sure to stay posted for that!

The ravine up the side of the volcano - note the black lava flows.

The breathtaking scenery from the slopes of the mountain.

Amazing cloud formations over the arid landscape.

Old volcanic rock formations.

Heading down the mountain. It was so cold!

The rain really began to come down as we returned to our Land Rover.

Jess, Meg and Richard - happy to be heading home after a fun day out.

On the drive down God gave us the most amazing sunset visible through the trees. It was beautiful!

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