Pico Viejo (Old Peak, 3135 m) is the second highest spot on Tenerife island. From the south side, Pico Viejo looks just like a shoulder of its great neighbor Teide. However, from the road on its west side this is an imposing giant, and climbing 1000 meters of height difference is a demanding task. In this page, you will find information about the routes from the west.
[J. S. Bach, BWV 1003, Allegro]
Routes to Pico Viejo
There are at least two or three routes from the west and southwest. They all start from the road. The west route begins close to Samara, and the southwest route at the car parking with the table Narices del Teide (nostrils of Teide), see the picture below. This car parking you will easily find, it is on the mountain-side of the road, in the area between the two regions of black lava. These two routes merge just below ‘nostrils’, in the area where the mountain slope becomes very steep.
There seems to be yet another, south route directly from the Parador hotel area. There is an attractive rock formation in that region (Roques de Garcia), and the route to Pico Viejo starts from there. I did not pass it myself but it was clearly visible from the mountain.
From the Narices del Teide, you will start walking directly toward the mountain. The terrain is harsh but rather flat in this part, the path is barely visible, there are no markings except for some scarce cairns. So starting before daylight may not be a good idea if you do not know the path well. At both sides, you will have huge black lava fields, and it is better not to enter there. While the terrain with the path looks harsh bad doable, those black lava fields look impassable. This is an extremely tough volcanic terrain which looks like as if it has just appeared from inside the Earth, although this is the result of an eruption which took place at the end of 18th century.
Below ‘nostrils’ (volcanic craters) you will turn slightly left, the route here becomes much more steep, but it is now clearly visible and it remains so all the way to the summit. There are some markings in the middle part of the route, however, they are not at places where you need them most. Namely, the route splits several times, so you can only guess where to go. Take left route each time, and this will lead you to the summit.
The upper part of the route is more hard and slippery, a lot of gravel and soft sand, which takes your energy and slows your pace. But you might look upon this from a positive perspective. On your way back, you will be able to make very long steps, or even to jump and to slide down very quickly.
You do not need any special equipment to do this route. Here is a short summary:
Most likely you will come from the sea level when you climb Pico Viejo. So to rent a flat anywhere on the coast you may use some reliable agencies like Interhome or Casamundo. But if you want to stay very close to the mountain, then this is the Parador hotel, at a stone-throw from Pico Viejo. There are bus lines to this place both from the south and from the north. If you stay at Parador you might also like to climb Guajara which is directly above the hotel.
I came by car from Santa Cruz. Started around 6:30 am from the city, and after a long but pleasant drive along the road in the direction from La Laguna, which is all the time at high altitude, I was at the parking at 8 am. It was almost freezing so I was wearing glows and other warm stuff. There was frost in some sections of the road.
In the middle of the walk-up, I did not feel really good. It felt like the altitude sickness probably because I came directly from the sea level. This was a bit puzzling to me because I climbed the much higher Teide twice in the past in the same manner, and did not have such problems at all. But this was a couple of years ago, and I guess I did not become younger in the meantime.
There was nobody around all the way to the summit, where I arrived at 11:30 am. But when I was in the upper part of the route I noticed two people far below. Later we met on the summit and I realized this was a couple from Germany.
On my way back I met several people, all dressed in summer clothes with short sleeves, although this was the last day of January 2015. But in fact, this was quite appropriate, as it became a rather warm day, totally different from the situation in the morning.
I used 2.5 liters of liquid, some fruit juice, and water. In the summertime almost certainly you might need even more.
To summarize, climbing Pico Viejo is a bit hard, but this is indeed a simple walk-up. You need no special equipment to get to the summit. Plan at least 3 hours from the road. I strongly suggest using walking poles, they come very useful for keeping balance on an unstable terrain like this.
If you like this article, please share it with others.
Please leave your comments below, I shall be happy to read them and to give answers to any question about this mountain.
Have a nice day!