Continuing my SOTA trip to Madeira, and following on from yesterday’s activations of Pico Ruivo do Paul and Pico Chao dos Terreiros, today I did two of the larger summits on the island.
Pico Ruivo (CT3/MI-001)
The highest point on the island, Pico Ruivo (not to be confused with Pico Ruivo do Paul, which I climbed yesterday) is a ten-point summit, which is easily accessed. Unfortunately, this also makes it very popular with visitors, and coaches from hotels drop off their passengers for the walk, so you are strongly advised to start this one early.
The starting point at Teixeira is about 50 minutes’ drive from Funchal, along some very twisty mountain roads. There’s nothing really at Teixeira, which is also the end of the road, except a large carpark.
From there a wide, paved path hugs a ridge with some spectacular views for the 3.3km journey each way to the summit. Along the path there are three small stone shelters, which could be useful in the foggy conditions that can apparently occur in the area, but which I think are more likely to be used as picnic benches. One slight surprise on the walk was that in a couple places we encountered ice, even though it was about 15C and sunny. Clearly it can get very cold by night.
Just under 500m before the end of the walk (which has hitherto been fairly flat), there’s a more substantial ‘Casa do Abrigo’ (Shelter House) with toilets and a café. This also marks the start of the slightly steeper climb to the top. It’s not a difficult climb but it’s about 100m of ascent for the 450m of distance on a dusty path that twists up the mountain side. As I say, this is a fairly easy 10 points, and it was easy enough for my parents (who aren’t in the best of health) to make it to the Casa do Abrigo with me, before I continued to the summit alone.
At the summit, there’s not a huge amount of space and it’s made more difficult by the number of people there. On the other hand, the mountain does have a double-peak: the main one with the trig point and another viewpoint, which is still easily in the activation zone. Since it was quieter there, I set up at the viewpoint, leaving everyone else to take photos at the trig point in peace. The available space didn’t allow me to stretch out the dipole legs fully but I did the best I good, having again been able to bungee my SOTA pole to the fencing at the top.
I didn’t spend too long up here but managed five QSOs including, incredibly given the aerial’s haphazard installation and the fact it was still morning, one American. It was also nice to make a QSO with G4OBK, whose writeups of these hills had formed the basis of my own trip. In fact, I contacted Phil four times on the trip, just missing him on Pico Ruivo do Paul.
The ascent for this one took about 90 minutes (allowing for my slightly slower parents), and the descent took an hour. We started the walk at about 09:30, about an 90 minutes after sunrise, and I wouldn’t have wanted to leave it any later given how busy the carpark was by the time we returned.
Total climbing: 567 m
Total time: 03:03:45
Pico do Arieiro (CT3/MI-004)
It’s possible to walk from Pico Ruivo to Arieiro on a 6.7km path, which also takes you beneath the summit of the currently unactivated Pico des Torres. I, however, went for the easier option of driving between the peaks. It’s a long way around, however, taking nearly an hour on some fairly twisty roads.
Once you’re there, however, Arieiro is possibly the easiest 8 points ever. It’s the site of a large military raydome, and so not only has an access road to the summit but it also has a large carpark and café. Despite the substantial carpark, however, it was running out of space by the time we arrived in the early afternoon.
The summit itself is located behind the café, and there’s a few steps up to a trig point, near where the path from Pico Ruivo joins. There’s really not that much else to say about it. Since the actual platform with the trig point was busy, I found a spot just off the carpark but within the activation zone to operate from, and managed 9 QSOs including five Americans. It was also good to speak to Martin G3ZAY at the G6UW shack (where I often operate from) – he had also found me from GB2IWM at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, when I was on Ruivo this morning.
Not a bad day for earning 18 points all-in-all, but I’d have to pay for it with a cruel 1-pointer tomorrow!