Climbing the Teide Eggs on Tenerife

Diving, surfing and volcanoes in the Atlantic

My contact lenses felt like ice flakes in my eyes. Blizzardlike wind swept past me with up to 70h/km and made every step in the dark to a tightrope walk on the way to the summit of Teide, the highest mountain in Spain (3717m). It is also the third-highest volcano in the world. I tried to protect my face from the cold. My thoughts went to Nepal. Was the ascend to the Larkya La Pass on 5213m even nearly as exhausting? I played with the thought of turning aroung. At the crater rim was no chance of a sunrise. Even the day before, clouds hung like an inverted soup bowl over the volcano peak. We stayed the night before at the Altavista del Teide Refuge at a height of 3,260m. This way we saved ourselves some altitude. Nevertheless, the last meters were an ordeal. I tormented myself step by step, sometimes four-footed, not to be swept by the snowy and icy road. A few days before it had snowed up to 2000m altitude. At dawn we reached the summit. The black gave way to a blue. The sight was 20m. Our emergency thermo blanket tore up within a few minutes due to the persistent strong wind. We decided not to wait for the clouds to dissolve. After 15 minutes we descended.

Five hours later we reached the parking lot and found ourselves in a warm and red-yellow moon landscape. The landscape of the national park is so unique that it was used as a filmset for different films. The Ucanca area was even test area for the Mars robot Rover ExoMars, which was to go 2011 as part of the Aurora program of the ESA on mission. We enjoyed the bright sun and decided to go rock climbing in the breathtaking scenery of the Las Cañadas del Teide – with an awesome view of the Teide. Climbing in this area is surreal and beautiful. The actual rock climbing hotspot on Tenerife is however Arico – not to be confused with Italy’s climbing mecca Arco. But there are climbing areas all over the island. Unfortunately, not all rocks are as well-maintained as in Arico, so that the majority of the climbers can be found there.

Island of endemic species

Tenerifes history dates back more than 12 million years. The Anaga Mountains in the north of the island, with its beautiful and fairy-tale rainforests (laurel forests), is the oldest part of the island. The volcanic Teide and the Las Cañadas are of younger age. The year-round mild climate (in the south warm and dry, in the north cooler and rainier), the different high-altitude zones and the seclusion helped to develop a special flora and fauna on Tenerife. There are many endemic species. Examples include the Canary Pine, the Canary Dragon Tree, or the Cactus-like Euphorbia canariensis. In addition there are many endemic mushrooms and algae, as well as birds and lizards like the Tenerife blue chaffinch or the Tenerife giant lizard (Goliath Gallotia). Thanks to my travel companion, Julia, who brought up this new aspects into our journey.

Surfing and Diving in Tenerife

Tenerife  is also a popular surfing, diving and paragliding area. The diving was particularly charming. The lava rock, which cooled in geometric shapes, fascinated me. Boxes on cuboids, cushions on pillows form a familiar landscape. As if architects had built underwater cities for the sea-dwellers.

After I did not dare to learn to surf in Bali, I had overcome myself and completed a one-week surf course. With a five-millimeter-thick wetsuit, I surfed the waves – more or less masterly. The fear of the so-called washing machine was always present, especially when the waves already built up far in the sea and became much too powerful for beginners. It was fun though, but from the fourth day on, I had no strength to catch waves anymore. My muscles were tired. Nevertheless, I would do it again, but never exchange it for climbing.