When we woke up at the Parador hotel, we were still feeling really knackered after our hike from Vilaflor the day before. There were still no cancellations for permits or the Altavista hut, but a look at yesterday’s photos boosted our determination and so we started planning an unorthodox approach to climbing the Teide: a night hike.
The Pico del Teide (3, 718 m) is Spain’s highest mountain. It is on Tenerife, where it caps off a huge volcanic caldera. The caldera including the peak constitute a national park, which controls the number of people accessing the summit section of the mountain.
As I wrote in my previous post, I completely underestimated how much up front you need to plan a hike to the summit of the Teide. If you want to go to the summit, you must have a permit. Alternatively, you can sleep at the Refugio de Altavista on Teide’s Eastern flank and summit the peak before 9 am.
We failed to obtain either a permit or a bed at the hut and hoping for cancellations was also without success.
Seeing that permits were available only from 9am and that no permits were required for Altavista dwellers before then, we concluded that it would probably be OK if we could get to the national park checkpoint just below the summit before 9am. Ideally, we would even be off the summit section before then, so that we avoided the park rangers altogether.
This would mean hiking at night.
Can we hike at night?
With the exception of a late end to our last hike in Austria, we never hiked at night. Now that experience came in handy as a taster of what it is like, but we were still unsure of how it would all go. Would we be able to see well enough? Were we going to be able to follow the trail ? How cold would it be?
At least we had our headlamps with us, by far the most important thing for a night hike. As we saw the day before, it was also nearly full moon, which should make things easier. The moon wasn’t meant to set until after sunrise at 7:37.
The weather forecast for the day didn’t look bad. With temperatures between 7 and 0 degrees C and only moderate winds. We still had no idea how that would feel without the benefit of sunlight, but we figured that we hiked at similar temperatures before and planned to wear all our hiking clothes we had.
Reassuringly, I also found an account of a successful night hike to the Teide summit on hikr. It is in German, but google translate does a decent enough job of translating it.
Yes, we can!
Now that we felt relatively comfortable with the concept of hiking at night, we had to figure out the details. I had the German version of the Rother Tenerife hiking guide. According to the book the hike from the Montana Blanca parking lot to the summit takes 4 hrs.
After our experience on the Guajara, I expected we might need up to an hour longer. And, we had to get to the parking lot at Montana Blanca first – another 1.5 hrs walking away from Parador!
The good thing was that we hadn’t booked any accommodation and so we were flexible to plan as we liked. Since there seemed to be more rooms and hire cars on the island than tourists, it wasn’t even that difficult.
- Book into a hotel at Vilaflor: Hotel Rural (proved to be a great place to stay at in general)
- Get up at 1am and drive to the parking lot at Montana Blanca
- Start hiking at 2:30
- Reach the turn off to the Altavista hut at Montana Blanca by 4:00
- Hike up to the hut by 5:30; take a 30 min break
- Reach the summit by 8:00
- Descend to the cable car station and take it down to the caldera
- Hike back to the car along the road
… and if we could hike faster, we might even make it to the summit for sunrise.
The plan had been hatched. We just had to wait for the bus down to the coast, where we could hire a car. In the meantime we went for a short walk around the Roques de Garcia.
After nearly a whole day of hanging out at the Parador, we left on the bus to Los Cristianos (342) at 16:00. From there we took the 111 to the airport (South), got a car, went for a trolley dash for some extra food, breakfast and spare batteries for our headlamps and drove up to Vilaflor.
Back in Vilaflor, we had dinner at a local restaurant and got our packs ready for the next day. Now that we had a car, we didn’t have to lug everything with us. A great bonus!
Ever since we got the car we were working on a timer. Every extra minute we needed was directly taken off the time we would get to sleep.
We went to bed just after 10pm. In 3 hours the alarm would ring and we would finally be off to the Teide summit.
- Tenerife, day 1: From Vilaflor to Parador Nacional via Montana Guajara
- Tenerife. day 3: Hiking Pico del Teide at night