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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hike Pico - Climb to Pico Peak 3 Aug 2012

Woke by the 0545hrs alarm and looked over the harbour wall to find the enticing sight of an almost cloudless Pico on the neighbouring island of the same name. 
Decision made, we would attempt our personal Olympic Challenge for 2012 and climb the 2351 meter high Pico Volcano
  The ferry to the other Azores islands just leaving at sunrise
 After a 15 minute walk, we arrived at the new Passenger Terminal and bought tickets (3.40 Euro each) in time to catch the 0730hrs ferry  from Horta to Pico. 
Pico clearly visible behind our ferry
 approaching Pico
 Jeannette on the ferry
 Passing the two distinctive rocks guarding the port of Madalena
 about to dock at Madalena

Our taxi dropped us off at the Casa da Montanha at 0845hrs at a height of 1230 meters

 view of Pico from the Casa da Montanha
 There is a very good organisation in place to make the climb as safe as possible.
As the climb up the volcano can be quite hazardous if the weather takes a turn for the worse, which can happen very rapidly, anyone wishing to make the climb has to check in at the Casa da Montanha reception.  - this costs 10 Euros per person.
One leaves one's mobile phone number so they can call if one is overdue. As people climb the volcano at all hours of day or night ( very popular to either go in the afternoon and camp in the crater to see sunset or climb at 0200hrs in the night so as to see the sunrise from the peak), the Casa da Montanha is manned 24hours, 7 days a week. 
If one wishes to check the weather forecast before going to Pico, one can call the Casa da Montanha on 00351 967 303 519. It is possible to organise a guide from the Casa - however, the route is well marked with 45 white poles so if the weather is good and stable, and one is used to hill walking, a guide is not really required.
After filling in a form one is then shown a short film about the climb 
 At 0850hrs we set off on our climb starting up the steps conveniently placed outside the reception desk
 Right from the start, the trail is uphill, initially in the shadow of the mountain, winding up between low heather trees

 Met the youngest climber - an 8 month old baby carried by very brave Polish parents
 views of Horta and Faial
 one of the 45 white pole markers

 some whispy clouds forming below us

 Once clear of the heather trees, these hardy alpine flowers delight us all the way to the top growing between the rocks

 getting steeper

 at times we were scrambling using handholds

At 1200 hrs, 3 hrs 10 minutes after the start, we reach the rim of the main crater - the 45th marker pole and the final peak in the background

 Panning around the main crater where many people have spent the night

 Leaving the main crater for the final leg to the top of the small peak
 this is the most difficult part of the climb- steeply up a mixture of scree and easy rock climbing

 Made it to the top, 2351 meters above sea level at 12.30hrs - 3 hrs 40 minutes from the start - very pleased with ourselves!
 views from the top

 the island of Sao Jorge
 time for a welcome lunch
 there are active fumeroles right on the top emitting hot gases to keep one warm - this is one of them
 a plume of cloud suddenly shoots into the air

 looking down at the main crater

 retracing our steps

 the Casa da Montanha and car park just visible

 someone has created a rock circle
 is the weather changing - a few drops of rain felt

 almost there
 a jubilant Jeannette (and Mike) - arrived back at the Casa da Montanha at 17.10hrs - total time taken 08 hrs 20 minutes with several Kindle breaks.
Jeannette asked me to state that she found this the hardest hike she has done.
Looking back up the mountain
 On arrival at the Casa da Montanha, we called our taxi who obligingly made a very quick ascent so as to get us to the Madalena ferry terminal just in time to catch the 1800 hrs ferry back to Horta.
Pico is once more clear of cloud with our ferry in the foreground back in Horta.
A very very enjoyable day


mgjb said...

Great stuff, you are now on par with all those british olympians! Bad for the knees, great for the heart and mind.
Greetings from Bilthoven

Bob & Janice said...

Congratulations - well done - you definitely can be proud of yourself!! Janice & Bob