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Climbing Mount Teide

Updated on January 21, 2013
Looking fresh-faced on the first of 3 ascents of Mount Teide in 3 weeks.
Looking fresh-faced on the first of 3 ascents of Mount Teide in 3 weeks.

Walking up Mount Teide

When I tell people I've climbed Mount Teide, their first response is usually to ask "Why?" and point out that there is a perfectly good cable car that will take you up 9 tenths of the way. When I tell them that in autumn 2009, I climbed the mountain 3 times in 3 weeks, they begin to look at me like I've gone completely bonkers.

The truth is, only other hikers truly understand the hill-walking bug. The desire to conquer a Mountain and reach its summit for no better reason than "because its there" is a difficult thing to verbalise. There's an element of masochism involved for sure, but that's true of heading down the gym to work off that festive flab too. I think hill-walking has more to do with pitching yourself against the elements of nature and what better place to do that the highest volcano on European territory?

For the uninitiated, Mount Teide, is a stratovolcano rising 3,718 metres above sea-level and is situated the middle of the Canary Island of Tenerife. Technically the volcano is classified as dormant. That said, after burning the soles of my feet on a hot-spot near the summit and gagging on the sulphur fumes, Teide seems very much awake to me.

The most popular route of ascent is from the base of the neighbouring peak of Montaña Blanca. There's a small car park on the main road (TF-21) and a dirt track winds its way up around the north side of Montaña Blanca. It should take about an hour to reach the point where the dirt track runs out and steep rocky footpath up Teide's main bulk begins. Take heart though, because at this point you will have already climbed around 400metres.

Still the bulk of the Mountain still lies ahead. Another 500m of calf burning ascent brings you to the Refugio de Altavista, the mountain cabin. Which if you pre-book, you can use for an overnight stay.

By now you are well over 3,000m above sea-level and there's a real risk that some people may start suffering the effects of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Symptoms include: headache, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite or a general malaise. AMS can hit anyone, regardless of physical fitness and the only cure is to descend. To keep climbing is folly as AMS can lead to cerebral oedemas which tend to be a quick way to ruin a perfectly good day.

Put simply, if you get any symptoms of altitude sickness, get off the Mountain - you wont feel better by popping an aspirin.

From the mountain cabin, the next leg towards the upper reaches are the toughest, the summit is obscured by the bulk of mountain and your lungs burn due to the lack of oxygen. Still there are a few highlights. The ever improving view and the ice-cave (cueva del hielo) which can be found by following a small detour to the right of the main footpath. As the name suggests, the ice cave is full of ice. Even during the summer months. A rusty ladder allows you descend into the cave and have an impromptu snowball fight with any friends who you have coerced into joining you.

Onwards and just when you are deciding that perhaps the beach would have been more fun, the summit comes back into view and your goal is in sight. You emerge near Mirador de La Rambleta just below the summit cone. At this point you are roughly level with the upper cable car station and you'll meet all sorts of people many of them dressed for the beach, rubbing their arms or blowing their hands. Still as a serious hill-walker you don't have to suffer these touristy types for long.

Armed with your summit access permit, which you would have obtained at least one week before from the park rangers office, you can gain access to the exclusive Telesforo Bravo path which leads to the summit.

Whatever pace you started your walk at, by now you can guarantee to have slowed to a virtual crawl. 4 hours of walking and nearly 1500m of ascent at high-altitude is sapping. The last 180m to the summit takes around 40 minutes. In terms of scale the crater summit of Teide is smaller than you might think, especially if you've glimpsed it from the coast. Small fumaroles emit a noxious stench of sulphur-dioxide and you'll look for opportunities to stick your head up above the crater to catch some breaths of fresh air from the north-easterly trade winds.

Still few mountains have such prominence coupled with such a relatively small summit, so standing on the summit of Teide gives you that unique, almost vertigo-like feeling of standing on the roof of the world. The view is naturally stunning too. On clear days you can enjoy 360 degree panoramic views of Tenerife and see across the ocean to the neighbouring islands of Gran Canaria, La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro.

With a lungful of fresh air, an eyeful of great view and a head full of vertigo, its now time to head back down. If its before 16:45 you could get the cable car, but I'm crazy hill-walker so I'm going back down the way I came.

Want to Climb Mount Teide?

Best Time to Go:

April-June or Oct-Nov. Avoid the summer heat and the winter cold, Teide can be icy and snow-capped for much of winter.

What to take:

At least 3 litres of drinking water, fleece/sweater, water-proofs (just in case), torch, sun protection and enough food for 8 hours walking. Camera optional but recommended.

Who to do it with?

Tenerife Outdoors organise walking holidays in Tenerife, they offer a day trip which includes a Teide Ascent. See: Climbing Mount Teide.


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    • profile image

      Tierney 5 years ago

      Hi, me and my boyfriend are going to attempt the climb in June. I have a couple of questions: if we get dropped off at the car park is the path to the summit easy to follow the whole way up and are there many people climbing at one time, just so we don't get lost?

      Do you have to be seriously fit for the climb?

      What is the weather like on the mountain towards the end of june?

      Thanks :)

    • profile image

      Martin 5 years ago

      I am sat in Los Gigantes and twice I've tried to go up in the cable car, the first time clouds descended and the whole place was fogged out so I had to drive back (hire car), second time today I actually got into the cable car but then we were all told to get off as there was a problem before it left - so instead I drove to the restaurant near the church just down the road near the northern side and walked one of the main trails, anyway to my surprise after about 1 hour of walking I felt dizzy and light headed so I had to turn back, this worried me as one of my goals was to do the climb you speak of above (excellent by the way), is there any way I can work up to this so I don't experience any problems walking up? is it a fitness problem or just an issue that I haven't done this before? Thanks

    • Geocache profile image

      Geocache 5 years ago

      I went to the peak only from the cable car about two years ago. It was still pretty big challenge for me. With the low oxygen density, it is absolutely another experience than e. g. climbing to 1,000 meters.

    • profile image

      danni 7 years ago

      Just done it by night! Totally awesome!

    • profile image

      wordscribe41 7 years ago

      Congrats on the win!!! Well deserved, too.

    • DavidParkes profile image

      DavidParkes 7 years ago from Tenerife

      Thank you to everyone for voting for my Hub to be included in HubNuggets. It won!!!

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 8 years ago from Texas

      Wow beautiful scenery and a great story. Thanks for sharing your adventure and congrats on being selected to the HubNuggets Wannabe Contest. Good luck!

    • DavidParkes profile image

      DavidParkes 8 years ago from Tenerife

      Thanks to everyone who voted so far. If you enjoyed the article, please "rate it up" on Hub Pages and share the article with others via Facebook and Twitter. Please also share the voting link for Hub Nugget. If the article is featured then its a great way for others to see it and enjoy it too.

      Thanks again.

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 8 years ago from Great Britain

      I have been up Teide but never climbed it - took the cheaters way out (up the sky lift!)It is beautiful. Good that you took the challenge and completed on a few occasions too!

    • Faybe Bay profile image

      Faye Constantino 8 years ago from Florida

      Insane, and beautiful! While I have never climbed a mountain, driving through the mountains many times gave me a taste of the vistas, and the difference in air pressure at varying altitudes. 3 times in 3 weeks? That would be known as intestinal fortitude! Mountains are addictive. You have taken the time to smell the roses, most of us never do.

      Rated you up, not enough thumbs!

    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 8 years ago

      A truly awesome and remarkable feat. Congratulations on writing such an interesting hub and being nominated for a HubNugget. Welcome to HubPages. I look forward to reading more of your hubs.


    • profile image

      wordscribe41 8 years ago

      What an awesome journey I just had through your hub. Mountain climbing is near and dear to my heart, it's why I moved to Portland, OR. Congrats on the nomination, I voted for this hub...

    • rocknrodeogirl profile image

      rocknrodeogirl 8 years ago from The Columbia Gorge

      I also would be asking "why", but I'm sure it's an awesome rush!! Great hub and congratulations on your hubnugget nomination! ;)

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I think I will be one of those who will ask you "why" too and stand amazed afterwards. LOL Thanks for sharing your story. It gives me a different perspective and I like that! Well climbing Mount Teide got you to the Hubnuggets and your hub has been nominated. you must climb the Hubnuggets spaceship and vote there:

    • Tenerife Islander profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Tenerife

      You have my vote for this excellent hub!

    • DavidParkes profile image

      DavidParkes 8 years ago from Tenerife

      Thank you guys.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 8 years ago from United States

      This sounds like it is a perfect sport for you and you wrote an interesting article.

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 8 years ago from Jaipur

      Hi David,

      Excellent piece of work. You have rightly posted for hubnugget vote.

      Thanks and thumbs up!

      Jyoti Kothari

    • profile image

      KRIS ROWLANDS 8 years ago


    • profile image

      Tom Green 8 years ago

      Great coaching points there on climbing Coach... Good work my man.,

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Something I have never done - going all the way to the summit! Good for you having got there all those times! Great hub too!