Ascent of Pico do Arieiro on 2019-03-17

Climber: Mark Trengove

Others in Party:KE Adventure Travel guide Roberto
plus eleven others
and me.
Date:Sunday, March 17, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Pico do Arieiro
    Elevation:5965 ft / 1818 m

Ascent Trip Report

After ascending Pico Ruivo, we returned to the refuge, taking a trail that branched off south-east down the east flank of the mountain. We were still in fog, and the white-charred trees, burnt in a recent wildfire, made eerie shapes that loomed over us as we descended. Flights of steep metal stairs got us over a series of crags. We crossed the ridge, continuing our descent on the western face of Pico das Torres to a plateau on the west ridge of this impressive mountain. A rock climb is needed to reach its summit, and it was not on our route today. As we lunched, watched by an inquisitive hungry partridge, the fog began to clear as the sun warmed the vapours. Valleys and spiky mountains surrounded us – our first view on the hike.

We continued on our trail around the south face of Pico das Torres to a col. From there the path was cut into the cliff-face, with the yawning drop protected by a flimsy fence. Pico do Gato lay ahead. The path bypassed this rugged obstacle by plunging into a long tunnel straight through it, (head-lamp recommended), emerging on the eastern face of the mountain. We were now on the lowest point of the trail, and the ascent of Pico do Arieiro commenced. A ‘stairway to heaven’ ensued, with a mixture of steep metal stairs and rock-hewn steps enabling our ascent in this rugged environment. Before levelling off, the trail passed through a rocky arch hewn out of a basalt dyke which looked, for all the world, like a castle wall.

After making a slight detour to a viewing point (Miradouro Ninho da Manta) to gaze on the spectacular view of the serrated peaks lapped by white cloud, a short ascent brought us up onto the busy summit of Pico do Arieiro, crowded with people making the short hike to the top from the car park below. The white radar dome just below the summit gave the place an alien feel. As with Pico Ruivo, this was rather a disappointing place. All the natural features on the summit had been swept away, replaced by a stone platform on which stood a trig point on a plinth.

We descended to the café and souvenir shop for a coffee, followed by a motorised descent to Funchal for a celebratory meal and our last night on the island.

Also see the log and photos at
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2067 ft / 630 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1302 ft / 395 m
    Round-Trip Distance:190.3 mi / 306.2 km
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Cold, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Sunshine and broken cloud
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2067 ft / 630 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 863 ft / 263 m; Extra: 1204 ft / 366m
    Loss on way in:1204 ft / 366 m
    Distance:3.9 mi / 6.2 km
    Route:PR1 - Miradouro Ninho do Manta
    Start Trailhead:Ruivo refuge  5102 ft / 1555 m
    Time:4 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:98 ft / 29 m
    Distance:186.4 mi / 300 km
    Route:To restaurant
    End Trailhead:Arieiro restaurant  5867 ft / 1788 m
    Time:10 Minutes

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