Just back from a great week away. Its been a while since I went on a trip with no agenda or pressure to perform. By this I mean most of my trips and holidays over the past few years have been climbing trips. Nothing wrong with this, in fact most of my adult life has been built around the concept of adventure trips. The only down side being that it can be very demanding on you mentally and physically and in fact not really a holiday.
So when liz phoned me to tell me she had booked tickets to Tenerife I was first surprised and then unsure of what the hell we were going to do? I am no beach chilling dude, yes I love the beach but please god let us do something! A quick google search about tenerife didn’t reveal much, climbing options looked limited and it was going to be way to hot, but then some salvation….. Surf!
We flew out to tenerife late in the afternoon and arrived just as the sun was sitting low in the sky. Hire car sorted, we blasted along the coast to our accommodation for the week. Turns out our hotel was high up the hill side, with a great view over a large section of coast. Having dropped the bags in the room a walk onto the balcony revealed head high surf looking back at me. I wanted to grab my board and get straight out there, but hey I had a week here and it would getting dark soon.
The nights are long as its so hot! A troubled sleep leads to the excitement of my alarm clock and a mad dash for the balcony, Bugger. The view ahead is still stunning, but instead of perfect peeling point breaks the ocean is like a deep blue mirror. It gets worse, as I return to the apartment and fire up my laptop the surf forecast is not good. I had checked prior to leaving and it looked as if I was in for an amazing week of stella line ups, but instead my screen is telling me to find something else to do for the week.
Liz is keen to explore the island and see whats about so a high speed tour ensues. Its only know that it dawns on me that tenerife is actually a large volcano, its amazing how your brain filters stuff on google if its not what your actually looking for! Quickly we climb hair pin bend after hair pin bend and a crazy luna landscape reveals itself with some of the wackiest rock formations I have ever seen! We quickly decide that we must return and check out the whole volcano, Mt Teide, which is amusing being from Wales and as you probably guessed from this point on Mt Tidy is said with a welsh accent.
A Tidy Dyke
So the surf report is true for the next few days and we need some stuff to do. Excursions seem to be what a typical holiday is filled with so we start checking our options. The most obvious is to climb the 12,198 ft Mt teide and see what a volcano looks like close up. The road to the summit is long and we soon pass a sign telling us we have entered a world heritage site. This tells me 2 things, up and coming is something that will make me go woooooooooow, but there will also be a fence around it!
We check out the crazy lava flows (not crazy hot bubbling red stuff) evidence of huge rivers of lava that must have flowed when Mt Tidy wasn’t being so ‘Tidy’. It turns out that from this point it is possible to take a cable car to the summit, saving a 3hr march in 30degrees the 50 euro price tag seems worth while. We then que for some time only to find that yes it gets you very close to the summit, but just shy of the crest you will find the fence. If you want to go to the summit you need a permit, which can only be obtained some time prior to your visit and is a mildly complicated affair. We take the cable car anyway and the views are amazing, with a huge horizon and deep blue sky it is worth the wait and the price but in future I would get up early and walk.
The next few days led to some other excursions such as visiting a crazy water park that really should be on every ones list of must do’s if you are on the island. Siam park has some amazing water slides including the ‘Tower of Power’. This slide features a 28meters vertical drop which sees you falling/sliding at around 50mph! but there are tons of crazy slides that really pack a punch for a change.
The next day we set sail on a stunning yacht on the search for whales. Im going to confess that I did not expect to find any, but the idea of spending the morning on a yacht with a bit of snorkling sounded a lot better than lying on a beach. Who new, within ten minutes of leaving the port we have turned off our engines are floating with the current as a pod of Piolet whales cruz by. They are with out doubt some of the largest mammals I have ever seen and certainly the largest sea creature I have seen in the wild. They were pretty mesmerising even though they were clearly just chilling, I can only imagine what seeing a huge whale breach must be like.
Ok so 3 or so days have passed and all this excitement is great, but I am keen to check out some of the bouldering. As its a volcanic Island there is simply rock everywhere, so some bouldering must exist. Google uncovers the Islands climbing shop and after a frantic hour trying to find it we manage to negotiate some pad hire. We are also fortunate that they are keen to spill the beans on the local info. Car packed with some pads and a print out of some blocs in hand we follow some vauge instructions that leads up what could be described as a goat track that could easily lead to nowhere. But soon enough we find our destination, Arico.
Fun 7a bloc at Arico
Arico is a dry canyon of sorts which looks at first to be set amongst sandstone walls, but closer inspection obviously reveals some crazy volcanic rock. The Boulders are set on the canyon floor and in truth they offer some good quality bouldering. Unfortunately its simply to hot and after a few 6c’s and 7a’s I am already feeling beat. A prolonged battle with a 7b follows but skin is perishing quick along with my psyche which marks the end of efforts for the day. It may have been hot but the bouldering was good so when its cloudy on the following day we head out to another recommended spot, Arico Nuevo a more recent development thats class is immediately apparent. The venue is made up of several sectors with a great range of grades and some more interesting looking lines.
Liz enjoying the volcanic blocs
Were as previously we were searching for interesting blocs, here there are large clusters of great shaped blocs with many obvious lines within close proximity. We have a great day bouldering here and I would recommend a visit to any climber who find themselves on Tenerife. Arico Nuevo is easier to access and has better blocs than Arico. you will find everything from great lava encrusted 4’s right up to some amazing looking 7c+’s. I would not travel here especially to go bouldering as the weather is simply to warm and even in the winter is pretty hot. but hey if your here its good and you should check it out.
The other massively positive note to the latter half of our trip was the surf returned! it was quite intimidating walking out across the reef into the swell. I had no idea if the locals were as laid back as they appeared or if the reef was super shallow. The Swell by know had picked back up and sets were pumping in at around head hight, out back it was crazy, you could easily sea the reef bottom and shoals of fish swimming around my feet which was something new for me. I had never surfed in Board shorts before, as the Welsh waters rarely offer the mix of warm water and surf so I’m normally in at least 3mm of wetsuit. But this was fantastic and the freedom of movement makes a huge difference to your surfing. Paddling is so much quicker and easier but the flip side is you are not so buoyant, so need to remember to swim for the surface after being dumped on the ocean floor. 3 days of surf made a great finish to the trip that was to prove to be one of my favourite trips in recent years although this was almost spoilt at the airport on the way home were a disagreement about what can and cannot go in the surfboard bag almost resulted in an very expensive excess baggage charge. It frikin winds me up that airlines try and pull this crap when you have clearly paid for 20kg of sports luggage. The long story short was me and liz holding our ground and eventually wearing all of our clothes so the very rude and unhelpful check out lady (I am being polite calling her a lady) could no longer claim our hand luggage was over weight after making us transfer all of my stuff from my pre paid excess luggage to my hand luggage. It was embarrassing but after the way she spoke to us there was no way I was paying any more euro’s.