Ascent of Pico do Arieiro on 2009-12-07

Climber: Rob Woodall

Date:Monday, December 7, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Pico do Arieiro
    Elevation:5965 ft / 1818 m

Ascent Trip Report

This summit is a drive-up although I did it via the classic high-level traverse, ascending Pico Ruivo first then traversing south to Arieiro and back to the Ruivo trailhead. See description below.

I didn't visit the parking lot (and couldn't see it in thick mist) but from there, there is a short ascent (steps, 20m total?) which leads to the summit - triangulation pillar set on a small rock outcrop. Major building works were under way in Dec 2009.

Madeira high level traverse

From the fork at N32 45 36, W16 56 27, 1754m, just E of the summit of Pico Ruivo, the PR1 trail zigzags steeply down, paved and protected by ropes/cables. It passes below the Torres col then there is a fork, with the "O" (West) route passing through a short tunnel then skirting the W side of Pico des Torres; the "E" (East) route crosses a shoulder of Torres; the two rejoin at the col immediately S of Torres, N32 44 34, W16 56 18 approx. I took the W trail on my way out; the E trail is longer and has more ascent. A further tunnel passes directly beneath Pico do Gato; Pico do Cidrao is then bypassed on its E side, then another minor peak on its W side, finally reaching Pico do Arieiro. Due to the rain I had Madeira's 3rd-highest summit to myself although there was major building work going on so not exactly peaceful.

It was no weather for lingering so I headed back north. I made the simple ascent to the first summit (1773m GPSr with a tiny cairn and - oddly - a dead rabbit; P~47m). I then climbed Pico do Cidrao: the trail starts on its NE side, at N32 44 24, W16 56 19 approx: red and white trail markers and a flight of rough steps cut out of the rock. This slants R through broom bushes, crosses easy slabs (more steps, a little exposed) to a large cairn. Then straight uphill for 10m, then slightly uphill traverse R to the foot of a 2m cliff where more steps cut into the rock, lead to the ridge near to the W summit. Walk E 50m, then a 3m pitch leads to the flat rocky summit. This is a hardish scramble (YDS 3) with fairly small holds and some exposure (probably easier on a dry day).

I returned to the trail and continued N, taking the E trail past Torres, finally ascending back to the main Ruivo trail which I followed down to the trailhead. The whole circuit took 4.5 hours, distance 19.7km (GPSr), total ascent (estimated from GPS waypoints) approx 1000m (net ascent 300m).

Madeira main ridge summits and cols

Listed north-south. The bracketed prefixes refer to the elevation ranking. Cols are the lowest cols I noted between the main peaks; elevations are from GPSr readings 7 Dec 2009, quoted accuracy typically 8m or worse; summits from Freytag & Berndt 1:70,000 map.

(1) Pico Ruivo, 1862m, P1862 (YDS 1)
col ~1594m
(2) Pico das Torres, 1847m, P~240 (YDS 5 - hard)
col ~1602m
(5) Pico do Gato, 1780m, P~165 (YDS 5 - hard)
col ~1613m - estimate - no GPS waypoint
(4) Pico do Cidrao, 1801m, P~75 (YDS 3 - hardish scramble)
col ~1726m
(3) Pico do Areiro, 1818m, P~216 (YDS 1 - drive-up)

The full horseshoe, from Arieiro - Ruivo then continuing W then S to Pico Grande, should make a fine day out, involving over 20km and close to 2000m ascent...
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2506 ft / 762 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2506 ft / 762 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 1
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Raining, Cool, Breezy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1358 ft / 413 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 210 ft / 64 m; Extra: 1148 ft / 349m
    Loss on way in:1148 ft / 349 m
    Route:Madeira high level traverse
    Start Trailhead:Pico Ruivo trail  5755 ft / 1754 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1358 ft / 413 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 210 ft / 64 m; Extra: 1148 ft / 349m
    Gain on way out:1148 ft / 349 m
    End Trailhead:Pico Ruivo trail  5755 ft / 1754 m

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