The Pico Volcano has its own weather system which is also height dependent. As the climb to the top of Portugal's highest mount is very popular, there is a dedicated weather forecast website available on
https://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Pico/forecasts/500 which gives forecasts for 3 height levels, namely 500m, 1500m and the summit, 2351m. The forecast for Saturday 15 June 2017 looked good.
So on the day before I planned to climb Pico, I called up the very helpful, friendly Casa da Montanha, the facility which provides 24hr, 7 day information, support and rescue services for the mountain
Looking out of Dutch Link at 0615hrs on Saturday morning , Pico was almost visible through a break in the low cloud
So at 0700 hrs left Dutch Link and walked to the ferry terminal to catch the 0730hrs ferry from Horta to Madalena on the island of Pico - cost €3.60 for the 30 minute trip.
The Horta - Madalena ferry
Arriving in Madalena - much to my surprise, found 3 boats anchored there - we had thought of anchoring here a week ago but thought that there was not enough room for the ferries etc.
Docked in Madalena at 0800hrs
and took a taxi from outside the ferry terminal to the Casa da Montanha - cost €20 .
After registering at the Casa da Montanha (cost €10 to the crater rim plus €2 for the highest point, the Piquiho, total €12) one is given a safety briefing followed by watching a short information video
One is then given a GPS / radio transmitter which, if one has encounters a problem or accident, one can use to call the Casa da Montanha - it also transmits one's position.
The climb starts via these steps by the reception desk
At 0848 hrs, I started the climb
The trail climbs continuously steeply from 1221m to the summit at 2351m, a height difference of 1130m.
and is marked by 47 of these numbered marker poles
The sun comes up from behind the volcano - glorious
Above the cloud
Almost at the crater rim. Much of the route is scambling steeply up over lava flows. Without the aid of 2 hiking poles one would be using ones hands and feet a lot of the time.
At 1230hrs a very happy Mike made it to the crater rim - the final peak, the Piquiho, in the background
It is quite popular to spend the night in the crater to watch the sunset and sunrise - must be spectacular.
The Piquinho, the final climb, with nr 47, the last of the marker poles in the foreground
This part of the climb is very steep, mostly scambling using hands and feet up the lava flows - very good "jug-like" handholds most of the time.
A jubilant Mike on top of the Piquinho 2351m - felt like being on top of the world surrounded by a sea of cloud - fantastic ! Arrived here at 1313hrs - so took 4 hrs 35 mins to reach here - I was one of the slowest.
Views from the top
There are several fumeroles on the Piquinho - emitting hot sulphurous fumes
Recrossing the crater
Starting the return - retracing ones steps - the first part of the trail is less steep than the rest
These pretty flowers cling to the lava in patches along the whole route
After a while, entered the cloud which had arrived while I was at the top
Visibility was reduced and the lava became slippery with the drizzle-like condensation
At 1600hrs made it back to the Casa da Montanha - total time taken 7 hrs 12 mins for a climb / descent of 1130m
I found the ascent a challenge. With two hiking poles, I found the descent very managable and overtook many hikers most of whom were struggling without the aid of poles.
Below is the link to the blog I wrote of the previous time we climbed Pico - 3rd August 2012
I was considerably slowly on the ascent this time - 4hrs 35 mins up compared to 3hrs 40mins in 2012 - age taking its toll! - but faster on the way down - Jeannette not being with me I had less breaks!
- so total time now 7hrs 12mins compared to 8hrs 20mins in 2012.
During the 2012 climb, there was much less lower cloud so had views of the surrounding islands which I did not have this time - however, being surrounded by a sea of white cloud had its own magic!
A thoroughly enjoyable climb!