Pico Island: Pico Volcano Summit Hike (Azores)

web-5D__3904

The Pico volcano is the highest Portuguese mountain, at 2,351 metres from the sea level. It is a stratovolcano (which means it is a conical volcano with a steep profile) with a pit crater on its summit. Its crater is circular and measures about 500 metres in diameter. Inside this crater there is another peak, called Piquinho (or small peak), which is a volcanic cone created by a later eruption. Piquinho rises another 70 metres from the crater.

web-5D__3842
The start of the climb near Casa da Montanha, with several wooden posts at sight

If you plan to ascend the Pico mountain, you should first of all go to the Casa da Montanha, where you can collect all the information you need regarding authorisations, guides, prices and weather forecast. You can also make your online reservation on the official website of Casa da Montanha (more about this later).

Characteristics of the climb of Pico Mountain

web-5D__3847

Climbing the Pico mountain is not an easy task. Before asking for the permission to climb and making all necessary payments to get the authorisation, make sure you understand what you are up to. Most important, make sure you know your limits.

Climbing Pico's summit is not like a walk around the park!

We need to say this, because when we were climbing down, on the second day, we saw many people climbing with inappropriate shoes and clothes, many not even carrying a bottle of water. Attempting a summit, without the minimum preparedness or without the basic material seems irresponsible and can be life threatening.

Pico mountain is above 2,000 metres, and from the Casa da Montanha (where the trail starts) until the crater (and further up until Piquinho), it is always up the hill, without any flat trails. The trail itself is of high difficulty. Even if no technical climbing is involved, due to the loose rock along the way, one often feels that one is actually climbing, using hands as much as legs.

How long does the climb take?

Pico Volcano

Someone with a medium preparation will be able to complete the climb in an average of three to four hours. In our case, as we stopped often for photos and videos, and we also like enjoying the views behind us, it took us four hours. But this average will depend on each person’s physical condition. If you are taking too long to reach the top, remember that you will need at least as much time to descend, therefore be attentive to your body and strength.

web-5D__3875

The descent usually takes a bit longer, due to the difficulty of the trail, with many loose rocks and gravel. In our case, it took us four hours and a half, and a paining knee. For me, physically, the descent was more demanding than the ascent.

 How long is the trail to the top?

web-5D__3919
Early wake up call to ascend the last metres to see the sun rising from Piquinho

The trek to the volcano starts at the Casa da Montanha which is located at 1,200 metres of altitude. From there to the top (at 2,351 metres) there are only 3.8 kilometres to b