Monthly Archives: August 2014

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

One of the many reasons I love to return home to Tenerife is to decompress from the 24-hour buzz of life in London and reconnect with nature. Sure, the city has plenty of beautiful parks I love – but there’s nothing that really compares to a 3-4 hour hike in the mountains or even a 1-hour stroll along a sunny coast.

In the heart of the Tenerife, lies El Teide, which at 3718 M (roughly 12,198 feet) above sea level is the highest point in Spain and also the 3rd highest volcano in the World as measured from its base on the Atlantic floor (right after Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in Hawaii). You might be surprised to read that El Teide is still active – with its most recent eruption as late as 1909.

After a few months of regular training, I was ready to take on a new challenge: climbing Mount Teide to watch the sunrise from the highest peak in Spain.

First Section – From Montaña Blanca to the Base

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Our path began at roughly 4:00 PM the afternoon before at the car park located on km 40.3 of the TF-21 road. The track is a very easy walk that offers impressive views of the volcano and its surroundings – largely covered with pumice (a light coloured volcanic rock). After about 30 minutes, we reached a set of volcanic bombs known as the Huevos del Teide. These solidified lava balls rolled down the mountain side from the front of advancing lava flows during the volcanic eruptions.

45 minutes later, we arrived at the bottom or base of the volcano itself – where the real adventure began!

Second Section – From the Base to Refugio Altavista

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

The road we had been following throughout the past 5KM turned into a steep, narrow and rocky path (Route 7 – La Rambleta).

The ascent from the base (at roughly 2700 M) to Refugio Altavista (at 3260 M) is short in distance, but quite tough because of its slope (almost 600 M hight in roughly 2 KM). With each step, I noticed the increasing lack of oxygen – What would normally take me 30 minutes to hike, took almost double the time.

Occasionally, we were overtaken by some super-humans who probably spent every one of their holidays racing up and down volcanoes. I wasn’t there to compete though – so I walked my own pace to allow my body to adjust to the height and avoid running out of breath.

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Roughly two hours on, we arrived at what would be our accommodation (Refugio Altavista) – right on time to quickly freshen up before watching the sun set over the mountains.

The Refugio Altavista consists of two buildings with a capacity of 54 people. Everybody staying in the refuge had one common goal – to reach the crater before sunrise! For this reason, the maximum stay is one night only and you asked to leave the Refuge before 8:00 AM (who stays until that late anyway?).

I was in bed by 9:45 PM.

Note: The panoramic picture above is the view from the refugio – showing the shadow of the volcano.

Third Section – From Refugio Altavista to the Crater

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

I didn’t sleep much that night. I’m not sure if it was the excitement, the altitude or the snoring (or maybe a combination of all three) – but time flew and it felt like only minutes had passed when I started to hear the first early-risers getting ready for the big climb. At 5:15 AM I slowly climbed down my bunk bed, put on my headlamp and packed my backpack.

At 6:00 AM, after a light breakfast and a strong coffee, it was time to go!

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

Starting at over 3200 M above sea level and having another 500 M height difference ahead of us, we calculated we’d need one and a half hours to reach the summit. I thought I’d have a tough time getting up early to go out for a challenging hike in the dark, but I was wrong – I felt like a kid on a very important mission.

The wind had picked up a bit, which made the walk in the dark even more interesting. Every now and then I could catch a flickering headlamp and hear low voices drifting from above. Sometimes, I stopped to look back just to confirm that I indeed wasn’t alone up there. 

When the sun began to rise, I was still a short walk away from the summit. I had to stop for a picture, though – the panoramic view was breathtaking.

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

One final push and I reached the summit on time for the grand opening!

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

My hands were trembling (it was cold!) and my heart felt like it was going to pack up and leave. While I attempted to recover my breath, I explored the rest of the summit and found the the other side of the sunrise – the shadow of the volcano.

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

The skies began to transcend from pink to yellow. Some hikers (probably those with another long day of adventure ahead of them) began their descend. Others (me included) didn’t really want to leave at all. I could have stayed all day, if it wasn’t for the strong smell of sulphur!

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

Fourth Section – from the Crater to the Cable car

It was only once we began to descend the crater that I could fully appreciate the lunar landscape. The trip down wasn’t easy as there was plenty of loose rock and gravel – another perfect excuse to stop to take photos.

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Many hikers (me included) took the easier way back down the volcano by getting on the cable car. The first one runs at 9:00 AM, which gave me some more extra time to capture the rocky landscape.

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Too soon, it was 9:00 AM and we hopped on the cable car together with another 20 glowing hikers – all of us sharing photos and experiences of that crazy time we watched the sun rise from the highest peak in Spain.

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Note: while a number of enthusiastic hikers challenge themselves to reach the crater before sunrise, this is far from being the only way to go. From the Upper Station of the cable car, Route No. 10 (Telesforo Bravo) also leads to the summit. This hike, while still challenging because of the altitude and the loose rocks and gravel, is much shorter! Remember: you will need a permit to access the crater during daytime (you can request the permit here). 

Practical Information

Route: Montaña Blanca – Pico del Teide
Elevation gain uphill: 1450 m approx.
Elevation gain downhill: 170 m approx.
Length: around 12 km
Duration: from Montaña Blanca to the Refugio Altavista, around 2.5 to 3.5 hrs // from Refugio Altavista to the summit between 1.5 and 2.5 hrs (depends on how you cope with altitude).
Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult (depends on your shoes and condition)
Wikiloc: Ruta Montaña Blanca-Pico Teide (does not include the descend to the cable car)
Accommodation link: Refugio Altavista

Click here to go to all my hiking adventures.


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Writing is a key way to refine my thoughts and keep a clean record of my experiences. I love composing thoughtful post ideas and choose and work on the photos that best go with the topic. However, sometimes I just want to share my thoughts, goals and the little things that make me smile on a day to day basis.

At the end of each month, I will put together a behind the scenes post in which I’ll give you a peek of my weekends, business travels, goals and favourite links.

Click here to read my previous Behind the Scenes.


Where to begin… I guess it’s been a while is a bit of an understatement. The whole reason I redesigned and rebranded this blog was to start over. It hasn’t been easy to keep up to my expectations: when I haven’t been working, I’ve spent most of my time preparing to take the GMAT. Whenever I sat down to write a new post – I felt guilty for not using this time to do something related to the test. I guess it’s become my priority!

While I’m still working through endless books about Quant and Verbal reasoning, I’ve decided to set aside a little time to indulge in blogging to share what has been going on for the past month.


On the road

Tarifa, Spain

By far my favourite experience in July was my short escape to Tarifa (Cádiz), via Madrid. The heat, the sunshine, the fresh fish and sea breeze, the 4€ mojitos and sharing all this with some of my closest friends was exactly what I needed. I would have extended it for a bit longer (maybe 6 months instead of 6 days!) – Why does always time fly when you’re having fun?

Since returning to responsible life in London, I’ve been adding some holiday flair to my daily routines – like having a Coronita after work in the sun!


Weekend scenes

Coronita Extra

Who said England doesn’t do summer? Ok, maybe it was me.

Well, England proved me wrong: this past month turned out to be one of the warmest and sunniest months in the UK since – wait for it – 1910. Ok, it hasn’t been ridiculously hot (at least not above ground). But still – it has been the sunniest and warmest month since I’ve moved to London already 3 years ago.

Weekends have been spent reading in the park or on the balcony with a cold Coronita next to me. Heaven. 


Reads

Sunset

Even though the GMAT is taking most of my reading time, I occasionally indulged in some fun and lighter reading – my latest addiction was Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet by Helen Poole. Confession: for a brief time in my teens, I dreamt of becoming a flight attendant (who didn’t?). One of my closest friends’ mom was one herself and, as soon as I told her about my dreams, she made it clear that I was no flight attendant material. I now thank her for her honesty.

Not only is Cruising Attitude witty and fun to read, but it provides a real insight into the life of a flight attendant. You’ll gain a whole new level of respect towards them on your next flight!

And now to my favourite online reads.

  • On feeling out of sync. Incredibly well put, Candace explores what caused a series of hapless travel blunders: “We find our rhythms in life, and we fall out of them.” I’ve felt this way many times before, and while it feels like you’ve completely lost your mojo – it soon enough returns, once you’ve adapted to the new rhythm.
  • On airport security checks. Every now and then, new airport security is introduced to our already stressful travel concerns – now, you won’t be able to fly to the US unless all of your bazillion electronic devices switch on. Nice one. Ché (aka. IndieBerries) has a charming way of showing the World the new security check routine – an absolute must for any traveler!
  • On acts of kindness. We’re all always wanting to be better people – but most of the time, we don’t have the time (or, well, at least that’s what we tell ourselves). Sarah explores 19 super easy ways to make the World a better place. No more excuses!

Mantra

Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take the step.

– Anonymous

July goals

Sand dunes, Tarifa (Spain)

  • Stay active. My goal was to run 2/3 times per week and try to reach 5K in 30min. Maybe that was a bit optimistic. I’ve gone for an average of 1/2 runs per week and am still a good 7-10min away from the 5K in 30min goal – which is still better than my June average!
  • GMAT. I’m very proud of the efforts I’m doing to spend my 15 to 20 weekly hours working on the test. I took my very first CAT test without keeping track of time (I know that’s not the way I’m supposed to do it… but I wanted to check my skills, not my speed). I scored a 590 (Q35 / V35). Nothing to be particularly proud of – but it was a start!
  • Health. During July, I slept like a Queen and ate like one, too. I haven’t fully regained my energy yet so I’m wondering what else could be causing this drowsiness. Any ideas to regain more energy?

August goals

Sunset in Tenerife, Spain

  • More GMAT. Throughout the month of August, I’ll still have the GMAT as a top priority, which may or may not mean that this space over here will be quiet for another few weeks.
  • Hiking. The great thing about August is that I’m spending all of the month on holidays. I don’t have anything very exciting going on (I didn’t have the time to plan it!), so I’ll be heading home to the Canary Islands for 2 entire weeks! I’m hoping to go on a day hiking trip at least once a week (or maybe even a 3 day journey on a different island!).
  • PhotographyI’ve realised that, since I got an iPhone, I’ve been drifting away from my DSLR. Most of the time, the reason I don’t take it with me is because it’s heavy and bulky. But I miss it. I’ll be taking it with me this time and hopefully will return with hundreds of beautiful landscapes of one of my favourite places on Earth.

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