Ascent of Pico de Cano on 2013-04-02

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Adrian Rayner
Date:Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Taxicab
Peak:Pico de Cano
    Location:Cape Verde
    Elevation:2828 m / 9281 ft

Ascent Trip Report

Due to an earlier ferry cancellation we spent only half a day on this fine island, and bagged the peak by moonlight!

After summitting Pico da Antonia on Sunday we took the Monday afternoon ferry from Praia to Sao Filipe. This being Cape Verde the 3 pm ferry left at 4.20 and the 3 hour crossing took 4 hours (in rough seas it can't plane properly), and by the time we had retrieved our baggage it was 9 pm. The baggage process is very African: you make a note of which containers are going to your island and which one your bag goes into, watch the containers off at the destination port and make sure you take your bags out before someone else grabs them!

Partway through the process we are bagged by a taxi driver and the four of us travel together to Portela, the village at the trailhead. We take 2 rooms in Casa Marisa and despite our late arrival the friendly young Turkish proprietor rustles up some supper. By midnight we're in bed. Unfortunately Adrian and I are due out again at 2 am, as we have to be at the airport by 9 for the flight back to Praia! Our plan had been to take the Saturday ferry to Brava and thence to Fogo, but there were no ferries then due to high winds, and they don't run on Sundays. Flights were full so no chance of changing our return date to Wednesday.

In view of our very constrained timescale requiring a night ascent, we used a local guide, Lisandro, to avoid route finding issues. This was a good decision although in daylight an experienced party should have no problems.

At 2 pm our man was waiting near our hotel entrance. From the right angle bend immediately south of Casa Marisa (N14.96944 W24.36628, 1700m) a path heads southeast, initially beside a fence. In 800m we join a wider track (N14.96500 W24.36218) which continues ENE. In a further 800m, just before the highest point of the wide track, a path heads R (SE) (N14.96714 W24.35469, 1767m) towards the very obvious volcanic cone. This turn wasn't very obvious in the dark.

Due to the nature of the terrain, after about 300m the up and down routes take different lines, with the upwards route keeping L at about N14.96562 W24.35271. In the dark we just follow our guide but the many footprints are likely fairly easy to follow in daylight. The terrain becomes steeper and more loose and the path climbs in tight zigzags, with a few rocky sections. Our guide's steady pace which seemed quite slow at first, is quite challenging on the steeper looser ground where we struggle for good footing in the dark.

A bit sooner than expected, Lisandro congratulates us - but we're only at the crater rim! It's clear he's not keen on taking us further: it will cost extra, it is steep rock, it is dangerous - it is dark. However when we make to continue he gives in and takes the lead. Soon the rim path runs into a 20m rock wall. A few metres to the R however (N14.95071 W24.34216) is a shiny new well-anchored cable protecting a steep ramp of sound rock which provides an easy but exposed scramble, YDS 3. Above, a short rubbly trail leads to the small summit cairn (N14.95039 W24.34236, 2833m).

It is 5 am; by sunrise we need to be already back down. However it's a fine place to be, with the bright half moon illuminating the jagged half kilometre inner crater and, much further back, the sheer walls of the outer caldera. The lights of Praia, where we'll return in a few hours, can be seen across a sea of cloud.

After 10 minutes and a couple of flash photos we leave the summit, descending very carefully at first. Once below the rim we follow the ascent line for a short way until reaching steep sandy slopes, then we plunge-step rapidly down, still by moonlight - great fun although there are a few small rocks to avoid. After descending maybe 500m of this, the slope eases, we stop and empty large quantities of fine black sand from our shoes and socks, then continue down more sedately, in growing daylight following a fairly clear trail which rejoins our upward route just before the main track, which we follow back to the village.

We're down at 6.30 am, just as another group are setting out at what is probably a more normal starting time. We finish packing, have breakfast with Denise and Richard Mclellan who will climb the peak this morning (at leisure without a guide; they'll also descend into the crater) then get the Wednesday ferry back to Praia: we plan to climb Tope de Coroa with them in a few days time.

Meanwhile Adrian and I are pleased to have kept our transportation on track and have Monte Graciosa and Monte Malagueta on Santiago to look forward to, plus some sleep to catch up on!
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1129 m / 3704 ft
    Distance:10 km / 6.2 mi
    Route:from NW
    Trailhead:Casa Marisa, Portela  1699 m / 5577 ft
    Grade/Class:YDS 3
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:3 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:1 Hours 30 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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