Photo Feature, Above the Clouds

Standing almost atop Spain’s highest mountain is a humbling experience for a variety of reasons. The first is that at 3718 metres, Mount Teide on Tenerife is damn high. The second is that as you can see all the way to sea level from the mountain, its sheer scale is more obvious than mountains surrounded by similar sized peaks. The third is that it’s a volcano. Admittedly it’s a dormant one, but the sulphurous smoke seeping out of fumaroles and rocks that are hot to the touch are clear signs that there’s still life in the old dog yet…making it impossible to banish thoughts of ‘what if today’s the day Teide decides to throw a wobbler?’

But for me the most humbling aspect of standing on the top of Teide is that on a clear day it’s possible to see the other islands in the Canarian archipelago. Being able to see a whole archipelago from one earth bound spot feels like a taster for what it must be like to view earth from space…and that thought can steal your breath away as much as the altitude.

The picture is the view looking west across the crater of Pico Viejo (the old peak). Funny, every time I see a volcanic crater like this my mind always drifts to thinking of Bond villains (thanks to You Only Live Twice). In the distance is La Gomera and beyond that is El Hierro. After that it’s sea, sea and more sea until the U.S of A.

Buzz Trips Facts File: You don’t have to be particularly fit to get to this point as a cable car takes you most of the way but it does require a short walk from the upper cable station which lies about 500 metres below Mount Teide’s summit. Unless you’ve got a permit, this is as close as you can get to the actual peak. The cable car costs €12.50 each way and takes about 8 minutes. There is a much less expensive way to do it that also involves escaping the crowds – walk. It’s not easy, but it is spectacular.




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