The gap in the list glared at me, like a tooth missing from the smile of a small child. I had climbed three of the four highest mountains on the island, but for some unexplained reason the second highest summit had eluded me. Now, I was setting off to fill the gap with a climb to the 3,134 metre summit of Pico Viejo.
|Montaña Guajara & Parador at the start of the walk|
I set off from the parador passing the incredible rock sculptures of the Roques de Garcia in the Las Cañadas National Park, that at this hour of the morning were thankfully free of the hundreds of tourists that would inevitably arrive by tour bus and hire car to scramble over them later in the day.
|Los Roques de Garcia with Pico Viejo in the background|
Turning away from the display of ‘rock-art’, I set-off on ‘sendero 23’ following a vague line of
|Looking back along the path into Las Cañadas|
Initially, the path was fairly easy going as it climbed very gently across the lava fields but soon, it began to steepen, and I could already feel the rarity of the air caused by the altitude. I lost the path briefly, seduced by some erroneous
|First view into the summit crater|
Most of the ascent was like this, as each ridge was conquered, so another appeared and the upward slog began all over again. At one point, the path vanished altogether as it crossed an area of huge lava boulders but I soon regained the path on the other side.
|Pico del Teide|
After three hours of ascent in ever thinning air, I reached the path between Pico Viejo and its more illustrious neighbour, the climb from here to Teide’s summit looking impossibly steep. After another half an hour’s climb, I sat on the summit of Tenerife’s second highest peak, which turned out to be simply a
|Altimeter reading over 10,000ft|
From the top, the views were stunning, encompassing four islands, as well as the
in the north-west, the north coast, and standing silently overlooking it all, the brooding presence of Teide’s towering peak, decorated with frozen fingers of lava, like icing on a badly decorated cake. Teno Mountains
|Looking down to the north coast|
The summit crater on Pico Viejo is far more impressive than that of Teide’s, which tapers to such a point that it has only a small indentation on the top. Here, however, the crater is an impressive sea of lava surrounded by rugged cliffs that would dominate the scene but for Teide’s presence.
|Summit crater with Teno Mountains and the island of La Palma|
After over half an hour exploring the summit, I turned and headed back downhill and mentally filled in the gap in my list. It had been a long but worthwhile wait.