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Ascent of Pico da Antonia on 2013-03-31

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Adrian Rayner
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, March 31, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Bus
Peak:Pico da Antonia
    Location:Cape Verde
    Elevation:1392 m / 4570 ft

Ascent Trip Report

This was the first peak climbed during a week in the Cape Verde archipelago.

NOTE: inter island transport can be tricky. Ferries are subject to cancellation in high winds (the longer more exposed routes); flights can be oversubscribed hence may not be possible to book at short notice if the ferry is cancelled. Also flight times are subject to change. The best bet might be to rely on flights and to book them in plenty of time. Note also that internal flights could only be booked via a travel agent (e.g. Expedia or a local agent).

Sat 30 March: Transportation issues
After a delayed flight via Lisbon we arrive in Praia after midnight. At passport control we are handed Visa forms which we completed while standing in the queue, and visas are stamped into our passports, all quite easy.

Given the time of night and Praia's reputation for being a bit rough (the atmosphere outside the airport is a bit threatening), we get a taxi up into town where we're booked into Praia Maria hotel (N14.91943 W23.50799) on the main pedestrianised street, a friendly comfortable reasonably priced place.

After a hotel breakfast we try to confirm our internal flights, but the local office is closed (supposed to be open) and there's no reply by phone. We walk to the ferry terminal, past a Coca cola bottling plant and a smelly inlet popular with the local little egrets, to be told that the ferry to Fogo for our first planned summit is cancelled. So we're marooned on Santiago until Monday when hopefully it will be less windy and the ferry will run.

Back to the hotel for a shower before we check out, leaving our bags there for safe keeping for a few hours.

Richard and Denise Mclellan have texted to say they are in town so we meet them in Pao Quente (a bakery cum cafe) for a cerveza and debrief. They arrived a day before us and summitted Pico da Antonia yesterday, getting some gear stolen from their back packs (left by the trail) in the process. Adrian and I plan to summit Antonia tomorrow so we agree to meet on Monday and hopefully travel to Fogo together. We find an ATM, compare notes with two Irish girls Adrian met in the passport queue last night, then spend an hour in the Cyber Cafe. There is neither wifi nor computers here, although there is public wifi in the square here which just about works: we get beer and a late lunch.

Then to the minibus terminal for a ride to Rui Vas ready for tomorrow's climb. This in itself is a bit of an adventure. To reach the "terminal" we walk to the end of the pedestrian street and descend about 30m of steep steps (N14.92154 W23.50764). A man comes running UP the steps to meet us, quite out of character for this sleepy place. He is joined by a couple of colleagues. They are keen to convey us, somewhere, anywhere. Yet when we tell them Rui Vas they slink away, directing us to a battered Toyota van - clearly this is a serious journey!

Already the van has a dozen people and assorted possessions inside. We are directed into the front seats, our bags are strapped onto the roof (securely - we check!) and we set off. There are several stops in the shanty part of town, and a fair bit of banter between the driver and passengers, but eventually we are out of town and heading for our mountain - a superb looking peak.

After 20 minutes we turn off the main highway onto a steep cobbled road which winds its way through spectacular scenery. A few drop-offs are made and finally the driver indicates that we are right outside our hotel - and all for about 1 euro each!

The hotel Quinta la Montana (N15.03475 W23.60049, 840m) is in a fine setting, overlooking an impressive rocky tower; Pico da Antonia itself now just 6 km away as the raven flies, and looking steep and challenging. It is located next to a church on a small loop road. After checking into our room (pre booked although it turns out to be nearly empty) we stroll along the road for half a mile to get an idea of tomorrow's route, enjoy a meal at the hotel then to bed.

Sunday 31 Ascent of Pico da Antonia
The promised early breakfast doesn't materialise (of course) but by 0815 we are well fed and on our way. From the hotel we head west, following the main cobbled road. There is a right fork at N15.03113 W23.60850 and a (long defunct) gate soon afterwards. The road ends at the gate of the large Monte Tchota comms complex (1082m). It would be possible to park here (if you have a rental car) or get a ride here from the village, but it's a nice walk and really not a long day hike from the hotel. A foot trail continues, passing left of the compound. The main trail continues west and we mistakenly follow it a short distance - a good choice as we are very soon at a superb viewpoint. However we check the map (i have an extract of Richard's 1:50,000 German map on my camera clipboard) and realise we should have turned sharp right (NE) at the western end of the comms compound (N15.03661 W23.62354, 1077m). Backtracking a short way we follow the trail NE then NW, soon arriving at a point on the caldera rim with a superb view of our peak. From the remains, this was evidently a multi kilometre crater in its time.

The trail continues, keeping L of the complex serrated rim. At xxxx is a left fork (R goes nowhere as we soon discover). The trail continues through woodland. At N15.03675 W23.62999 it is best to fork R: this cuts off a corner and avoids a house. At the foot of a steep short descent, turn R (N) on the main trail. In 600m we reach a spectacular saddle (N15.04364 W23.63205, 983m), again on the caldera rim, with a trail coming up from the E. The main trail contours L (W) here but I fail to check the map and we follow a sketchy steep path NW towards the 1327m south top. No complaints as the views are superb, but we descend again and follow the main trail west. Make a R fork at N15.04392 W23.63779. The more obvious trail descends L here to a small cultivation: the route to the summit keeps R before curving L, ascending a little.

In a further 300m, at N15.04510 W23.63974 a trail junction is reached. Here we turn sharp R (NE) and follow a trail up the steep SW ridge, which leads to the 1327m south top (N15.04786 W23.63497, 1331m, P31m, my GPS reckons). The views are superb, and the onward route to the main summit looks a little more challenging, as was reported by the Mclellans. There are a few short passages of easy scrambling and some spectacular exposure (500m drops to the right!) calling for careful footwork, but nothing particularly difficult.

We are at the summit at about 1230. There are two rock outcrops: the higher one has a triangulation point (quite small but actually visible from our hotel) in a rather airy situation. The GPS records N15.05089 W23.63525, 1399m. We stay for an hour, enjoying the warm sunshine and the fine panorama.

The route finding is of course more efficient on the way down and, with a couple of stops, we are back at the Quinta la Montana before 4pm: about 4 hours up, 2 down, more or less as our hotel hostess indicated, although it's best to allow time for scenic detours and lazing in the sunshine.

Birds seen/heard include raven, kestrel, grey headed kingfisher, little egret, blackcap, whitethroat, a roller and a lot of streaky brown seedeater types.

Mon 1 April
In the morning we return to Praia: minibuses seem to be quite frequent: we wait on the main cobbled road near the hotel: a minibus arrives just before 9: after several stops we're back in Praia before 10. We do the rounds of the ferry and airline offices grappling with transport logistics. It seems the Fogo ferry is running this afternoon and we can climb Pico de Cano tomorrow.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1050 m / 3454 ft
    Elevation Loss:1050 m / 3454 ft
    Distance:16.7 km / 10.4 mi
    Grade/Class:YDS 3
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Hot, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:851 m / 2798 ft
    Extra Loss:299 m / 984 ft
    Distance:9 km / 5.6 mi
    Route:from SE
    Trailhead:Rui Vas  840 m / 2756 ft
    Time Up:4 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:751 m / 2470 ft
    Extra Gain:199 m / 656 ft
    Distance:7.7 km / 4.8 mi
    Trailhead:Rui Vas  840 m / 2756 ft
    Time Down:2 Hours 15 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. Peakbagger.com accepts NO resposibility or liability from use of this data.

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