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Walking in Tenerife - Climbing Mount Teide

For some, the greatest achievement of all walks on Tenerife is to top out on its highest mountain, the magnificent volcano Mount Teide. As you probably know, El Teide is not only the higest mountain in Tenerife, but indeed the highest in all of Spain, at 3,718m ASL.

An imposing sight at any time of year and especially stunning with its upper flanks encrusted with snow in winter, El Teide's gigantic, shapely peak has tremendous appeal, and moreover, you can make the ascent as easy or as difficult as you choose.

 A classic view of Mount Teide, Tenerife

A classic view of Tenerife's Mount Teide and the Caldera de las Canadas  
© Mat & Niki Adlam-Stiles, 2011

From the Rambleta (the upper cable car station) there are three possible routes you can take: the trails to the "Pico Viejo" (Old Peak) and "La Fortaleza" viewpoints (well worth while visiting in their own right) are freely accessible - providing there is not too much ice or snow, which is only an issue in winter - and the trail to the summit cone, the " Telesforo Bravo".

Obtaining a permit for the summit

The one thing you MUST obtain prior to your visit if you wish to go the summit is a permit (free) which allows you to climb the final 200m of the volcano. The permit system isn't bureaucracy gone mad - it's there to help manage the many thousands of visitors who come to Mount Teide every year and to mitigate damage and erosion to the summit cone (which has suffered tremendously from the constant pounding of visitor's feet) by limiting the number of people allowed to climb it each day. And if you haven't either got a permit, or (before 9:00 am) proof that you have stayed in the Altavista refuge the night prior to your climb, you simply won't be able to go to the top. Permits are now available on-line and are easy to obtain from the Teide National Park web site - this link will take you directly to the English version of the permit booking page. You will need to specify a two-hour time slot during which you plan to arrive at the start of the Telesforo Bravo trail (the one to the summit) and provide a passport or ID number for each member of your party, and you must book at least eight days in advance of your intended summit attempt date. Another handy hint - if you're from the UK, the correct selection from the list of countries drop-down menu is "Reino Unido". Note that the person who made the booking MUST be present when you arrive to make the climb. If, because of inclement weather etc, or if the path is closed for other reasons and not considered safe to ascend, you are normally allowed to climb the following day instead.

Climbing El Teide from the Rambleta - the easy way

The easiest (and arguably, because of this, the least satisfactory) way of climbing El Teide is to be lazy and take the cable up to "La Rambleta", then to pick up the Telesforo Bravo trail from the top . You can get to the start of the cable station using your hire car (parking there is free at the time of writing) or by public transport from all major cities. Note that the cable car MAY NOT be running if the weather is bad, especially if it's windy. Be aware that the cable car is an expensive option €12.50 each way in 2011/2012 for adults) and in winter, when some of the trails down El Teide are too icy to negotiate, it may only be possible to buy a return ticket for a whopping €25 per person. Still, if it's clear, the views will be very rewarding.

Snow on the colourful Pico Viejo, Mount Teide, Tenerife

Above: Snow on the colourful Pico Viejo, Mount Teide, Tenerife
© Mat & Niki Adlam-Stiles, 2011

Climbing El Teide from Montana Blanca in one day

A very pleasant and more fulfilling way to summit El Teide is to walk from the Montana Blanca car park, starting off along Sendero (Path) 7, as per our "Montana BLanca" walk guide. This means you can get to the summit and back easily in a single day. There is really no navigational skill required - just follow the signs, and head upwards!

El Teide from Montana Blanca with an overnight stay at the Refugio Altavista

For the true mountain enthusiast, the only 'real' way to climb El Teide is from Montana Blanca, but to include an overnight stay at the 60-bed Altavista Hut before rising early the next morning to reach the Pico del Teide in time for sunrise. This is the one scenario where you don't need a permit, but you DO (a) need to be at the summit early as you must be off the Telesforo Bravo trail before 9am and (b) need to provide evidence when you exit at the Telesforo Bravo gate that you stayed at the Refugio Altavista the night before. Be aware that it's not cheap to stay in the Altavista refuge - €20 per night for adults at the time of writing.


Mount Teide on a fine January day from Montana Blanca

Above:  Mount Teide on a fine January day from Montana Blanca
© Mat & Niki Adlam-Stiles, 2011

Bookings can only be made in person, or by telephone, at present, though it appears that it may be possible to make bookings on-line from March 2012 - see a link to the Refugio Altavista web site and a link to the Refugio Altavista page of the Teleferico del Teide web site for the most up-to-date information. The Teleferico Teide web site also gives advice on which paths are currently open and whether the cable car is running so it's definitely worth checking.