My Tenerife, A View From Jonathan Clarke

‘Ascent of the King, Rising in the Ocean” : A Trek up Mount Teide on 12/13 April 2012

On summit of Mount Teide

A barely perceptible lightening of the horizon heralded the approaching dawn sunrise, and I told Hans, my new-found trekking companion, that I’d see him on the summit. Abandoning the Kilimanjaro porters” mantra of ‘Pole, Pole‘ (slowly, slowly) I shot off, passing the neon, caterpillar-like procession of head-torches that had overtaken us earlier. I felt a bit funny – the effect of altitude and sleep deprivation – but the thought that I must be less than 200 metres below the summit sped me upwards. Soon I was on the crumbling crater rim, and joining the handful of early summiteers on the highest point of Spain and at 3,718-metres (12,198 ft) the highest point above sea level among all the islands of the Atlantic.

Summit Mount Teide

It was well below freezing, but I’d come enviably prepared – thick mittens, a lovely pair of down trousers and a down jacket, which meant I could really enjoy the summit experience. Those less clothed waited restlessly in the biting, sulphurous air for the first rays of the new day. Surely enough, the warm, golden sun rose above the blanket of clouds, and in the other direction, the immense pyramidal shadow of Teide was thrown across the island, then across the Atlantic, where the islands of La Gomera and La Palma – my next destination – jutted enticingly. A striking sight, and one I was delighted to see was shared by Hans, who had appeared, with a big grin on his face.

The vast Las Caňadas caldera was now lit-up. I tried to trace my journey from the hair-thin Cañadas road far below, but apart from the obvious upper cable-car station, most of the landmarks were out of sight, or too small or camouflaged.

Ice Cave, Mount Teide

I reflected upon some of the features I’d encountered in this vast promethean landscape – dazzling pumice slopes, giant lava runnels, car-sized lava accretion balls ( the ‘eggs of Teide’), the eerie Cueva del Hielo (Cave of Ice, which I’d eventually found and descended, discovering only a smattering of snow); and the homely Refugio de Altavista (3260m) where I’d met Hans and shared a leisurely supper and a hurried breakfast.

I also thought back to standing on the summit of that other, larger, African volcano, Kilimanjaro and the curious parallels with this one. In 1894, before the refuge was erected Teide was ascended by a German adventurer who five years earlier had climbed Kilimanjaro (5,895m). The explorer’s name was also Hans – Hans Heinrich Joseph Meyer – and following his Tinerfeñan adventure he compared the two magnificent mountains, calling them “two kings, one rising in the ocean and the other in the desert and steppes“.

The totality of this was wonderfully satisfying – I’d also stood on the roof of Africa, and now I was atop the sulphur-smoking King of the Atlantic!

Words and images by Jonathan Clarke – Tenerife Magazine reader and London-based Architectural Historian who enjoys hiking, scrambling and climbing (and hopefully canooing) in wild and wonderful places.

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My Tenerife, A Personal View From Gavin Lewis

I’ve just returned home from my 3rd successive visit to the island of Tenerife. My wife and I love the place and we keep coming back for more. Our first visit was in 2007, but we returned once again in 2010 for our Honeymoon and then for a 3rd time this February. If you believe everything you read in the travel press about Tenerife you may be forgiven for thinking we had both lost the plot. Tenerife is portrayed as a bit of a tourist trap, full of beer-swilling louts making the most of their all inclusive bar whilst turning an unhealthy shade of maroon. In some parts yes, this may well be true.

Masca

However, if you look beyond the outer edges of these tourist hotspots you’ll find an island of superlatives. There aren’t many places that let you go from sea level to the highest point in Spanish territory in just a few miles. There aren’t many places that allow you to enjoy year-round warm sunshine in one part of the island only to find snow, rain or gale-force winds a few miles up the road. Tenerife is blessed by a variety of climates thanks to its dramatic terrain. As the landscape changes from one of dry, scorched soil and cactus (and Euphorbia plants…) to lush green grasses and terraced plantations, the towns and villages also change. Head to Santiago del Teide, Vilaflor or Oratava a few miles inland and you’ll no doubt wonder if you are actually still on Tenerife. The armies of sunburned tourists are nowhere to be found; the architecture changes from high-rise apartments and hotels to a mix of styles reflecting the island’s long history and the people are busy living their lives, doing what they do.

Keep heading uphill and you’ll reach the pine forests. The searing heat of the south is replaced by clean, crisp, and cool air and the road is enveloped in lush, green pine trees and clouds.. Keep climbing a little further and the trees suddenly disappear to reveal a landscape that wouldn’t look out of place on Mars. The national park is a sight to behold, with unusual rock formations, craters and lava flows from ancient eruptions and it boasts a 12,198ft centrepiece, Mount Teide.

Tenerife

This is the Tenerife I keep coming back to.

Words and images by Gavin Lewis – Tenerife Magazine reader, blogger & amateur photographer from Wales.

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