Azores: Climb to Pico Mountain

by Nuno Madeira
0 comment

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I still remember that as soon as I was invited to climb Pico Mountain, I didn’t think twice and immediately accepted the challenge. I would go together with a group of friends belonging to the Nuno Álvares Fraternity of the Prazeres Nucleus.

It was a 4-day activity that, in addition to the climb to Pico Mountain, would also include visiting some places on Pico Island such as the Wine Museum, the Pinha Vineyard Cultural Landscape, the Whaling Industry Museum, among others. others.

Before the trip, a little preparation that involved getting to know a little more about Pico Mountain, the route and the difficulties we might encounter.

In these types of routes, it is convenient to make sure that we are in good health and that we have the right equipment not only to make the route but also to protect ourselves from the weather conditions inherent to the time of the climb.

With a course of around 7500 meters in total, we should take into account a number of factors that led to the creation of the Pico Mountain Climbing Principles Charter, but at the very first point, we would already be failing as they recommend that the climb be held in the summer months…

A few days before the trip I started to see the weather on Pico Island frequently through WEBCAMS and the forecast was not very good. The fact that we climb in the middle of winter would certainly make it difficult.[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_btn title=”Equipment” shape=”square” align=”center” button_block=”true” link=”url:%23material|”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_btn title=”Useful Information” shape=”square” align=”center” button_block=”true” link=”url:%23informacoes|”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_btn title=”Mountain House” shape=”square” align=”center” button_block=”true” link=”url:%23casa-da-montanha|”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_btn title=”Route Map” shape=”square” align=”center” button_block=”true” link=”url:%23percurso|”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_single_image image=”6157″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]The day of the climb started very early. It was 7:00 and it was necessary to prepare what was missing to climb the mountain, but above all, to understand the weather conditions.

Looking at the mountain, it was possible to see the cloudless ridge but the predictions pointed the opposite with the arrival of strong wind.

We had the chance to postpone the climb, but that would imply the next day we climb and then take the plane to Lisbon, but there was only a setback for things not going well.

Our guide confirmed the predictions again, unchanged… strong wind and cloudiness. We did not give up and advanced towards the mountain.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6158″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]On the way to the Mountain House, at 8:00, the clouds were already covering part of the island and it was not long before the summit happened. In a few minutes, the time has completely changed.

Already backpacking, the climb started around 8:30 and we did not know what awaited us.

The track, although well marked, is very uneven. Much of the trail is made of very uneven volcanic rock with many holes, so care is not particularly careful when the floor is wet.

The trail is marked with wooden markers about 1 meter high, painted at the top of yellow and red, and numbered from 1 to 45. They are placed at different distances from each other but it would always be supposed to have two wooden markers visible on the top. In the course of the route, that is, it should be possible to see mark number 8 (up) and mark number 6 (down), but I do not know if this happens because both up and down our visibility often not exceeding 50 meters, which made it difficult to confirm this “theory”.

The climb up to milestone 5 took place without major difficulties, except for the rather rough terrain, but without much wind or any other adverse weather conditions, but from milestone 6 onwards, things got complicated.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6160″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]We started to get in the fog and visibility dropped dramatically. The north wind started to move faster and with the dense fog we started to get wet.

From here it was always getting worse. The terrain has always been very uneven and the poles helped a lot, not only uphill but also downhill where they probably played a more important role.

A quick stop to put on waterproof clothes, and the climb continued.

As we climbed the vegetation began to be scarcer, more scattered and smaller. This is because only a few species can survive the harsh climate at the top of the mountain.

With favorable weather conditions, it would also be possible to see the result of the volcanic eruptions that happened there, as well as algae and lava tunnels, but this was not possible for us. For these reasons, it is important not to deviate from the track to avoid unnecessary risk.


Although not a very technical climb, the climb to Pico Mountain is classified as medium / high difficulty. This classification will probably have to do with the type of uneven floor and the sharp unevenness that needs to be overcome.

The higher we climbed, the worse the weather got. More wind, colder and rain. There was a time when we wondered whether or not we continued to climb as conditions only tended to get worse the closer we were to the summit, but the decision to follow was unanimous because we wanted to achieve the goal we had set ourselves. Reach the summit.

The reason we kept going was also that we were guided because I don’t know if it would be possible to reach the top without him. At one point I remember that we took an alternative route to be more sheltered from the wind to the point that we had been without the wood frames for a while and only came back in contact with them almost to the crater.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6161″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]Near the top, crater entry was one of the trickiest parts. The wall has a very steep slope and tiredness is starting to make its own.

We barely passed the crater vertex, and besides seeing traces of snow on the ground, the wind almost shoots at us. High cross winds were everywhere, and there was no way to protect us from the wind and rain that kept us from dropping.

The rounded crater has a perimeter of about 700 meters and a depth of 30 meters. In the center is another smaller elevation called Pico Pequeno or Piquinho, about 70 meters high. And these were the last meters to reach our goal.

Finally, we had reached Piquinho, at 2351 meters, the highest point of Pico Island and Portugal. Goal achieved! The inscription “1994” in the geodetic mark marks the place.

At the base of Piquinho, in favorable weather conditions, it will be possible to see volcanic fumaroles with strong sulfur content, but as the wind blew up there, there was no smell of sulfur or anything else. The cold was very cold, the rain continued to fall and there was no place to shelter.

A few meters away from the geodesic landmark you can find a small vertical rock structure with a small stone sculpture that resembles a face with a smile.

This stone sphere was made by artist Helena Amaral and was transported and placed there by our guide a few days earlier. There are many other pieces of these scattered around the island and if you are interested in learning more, you can consult the publication Smiles of stone on Pico Island.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6163″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]Unfortunately, due to the weather conditions, it was not possible to observe the landscape that they say is breathtaking because it is expected to see all the islands of the central group, however, it was worth the experience, the difficulties overcome and the unity of the group throughout. route.

To remember is that sense of purpose achieved even with so many difficulties along the way. It’s amazing how we can push our limits and push them![/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6164″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]At 2351 meters altitude, the highest point in Portugal (06.02.2016)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Unfortunately, due to the weather, I only took GoPro with me since it would have no problems in case of rain and for that reason there were very few photos I took. I took the opportunity to do some footage that I have now compiled into a short video.

It is not easy to summarize an adventure of almost 8 hours in just a few minutes but this is what I tried to do in this short video so that they can confirm the adverse conditions we have been subjected to.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”” align=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Statistics calculated from data imported from GPS

Saturday, February 6, 2016 8:30 AM AZOT (start)
Distance: 7.4 km
Duration: 7 hours, 52 minutes and 22 seconds
Average speed: 0,9 km / h
Highest Elev: 1271 m
Highest Elev: 2404 m
Total ascent: 1133 m
Total descent: 1108 m

NOTE: approximate values recorded with a mobile phone.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row el_id=”material”][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Gear / Equipment to carry (seasonally appropriate)

  • Mountain boots
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Waterproof coat / windbreaker
  • Gloves (and hat)
  • Water (at least 1.5L per person)
  • Fruit and / or Energy Bars
  • Mobile Phone (with GPS)
  • Small flashlight
  • Photo camera

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row el_id=”informacoes”][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Useful Information, Warnings, and Recommendations

The Mountain House is a must for everyone. This is where the mountain check-in takes place and where you receive the GPS tracking equipment that allows you to ask Casa da Montanha or the Fire Department for help in an emergency (attention, see Pico Mountain Access Regulation for more information). ). If visitors do not return to their estimated time, they will be contacted via the device to confirm their condition.

ESTE ARTIGO TAMBÉM PODE INTERESSAR  Monsaraz, the village that imposes itself on the Alentejo landscape

Although not required, I recommend contacting an accredited guide (through the Tourist Office) to accompany you on your way up. Although weather conditions may be favorable, they may change suddenly and even if you have hiking experience, it is safer.

The Pico Mountain Access Regulation states a maximum limit of 160 visitors at the same time, however, this number may increase depending on weather conditions.

The stay at Piquinho (peak) is limited to 30 visitors and may not exceed a maximum period of 30 minutes, except when accompanied by an accredited mountain guide, which may be extended for an additional 30 minutes.

The trail has a total length of 7600 meters (3800 from Casa da Montanha to the summit), with an elevation of 1100 meters (starts at 1230 meters at Casa da Montanha and the summit is 2351 meters), and usually takes 8 hours (3 to 4 hours per side).

The trail starts and ends at Casa da Montanha, and it is not possible to travel off the PR4 PIC Montanha trail. It is marked by 45 wooden markers about 1 meter high, painted in yellow and red at the top, and spaced unevenly.

It is not possible to camp in the Pico Island Mountain Nature Reserve other than overnight in the crater. In this case, the best is to go up in the middle of the afternoon so that you can watch the sunset and prepare the space for the night in time. This situation requires that you carry more weight and it is mandatory to carry a sleeping bag and tent. It is still advisable to bring light but warm clothing since at night temperatures can drop considerably even in the summer season.

If you wish to see the sunrise from the summit, it is recommended that the climb be done around 4 am (or earlier), and accompanied by an accredited mountain guide.

On clear days and midday climbs, sunscreen is recommended.

In the days leading up to the climb, frequently refer to weather websites like WindGuru to have no unpleasant surprises. On the day of climb, ask for information at Casa da Montanha about any doubts with the weather conditions at the moment.

Pico Island has much more to see than Pico Mountain. Take a day or two to explore the island and visit the Wine Museum, the Pinha Vineyard Cultural Landscape, the Whaling Industry Museum, the Whaling Museum, the Torres Cave and the Landscape Interpretation Center of Pico Island Vineyard Culture. More information on the official Azores Tourism website.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row el_id=”casa-da-montanha”][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Mountain House

Casa da Montanha is the obligatory stopping point for those who want to climb to the top of Pico Mountain. This is where all the support is provided to visitors and where the registration and control of the climbs.

It also provides information on the geology, biology, climate and legal framework of the Pico Mountain Nature Reserve, both in informative panels and in film format, which can be viewed in the auditorium.


Mountain climbing information, support, and registration; Auditorium; Film/documentary projection; Store; Cafeteria; ATM / VISA; WC – conditioned mobility; Parking lot.


October 16th to April 30th
Every day> 08h00 to 18h00
May 1st to 31st and October 1st to 15th
Monday to Thursday> 08h00 to 20h00
8 am Friday to 8 pm Sunday> open without interruption
June 1st to September 30th
Every day> 24 hours

Note: Times may change depending on weather conditions.

Mountain Climbing Price

Standalone climb: 10 € (includes GPS tracking equipment)
For other values, consult the official page of the Government of the Azores.


Address: Caminho Florestal nº 9, Candelária, 9950 Madalena
Tel. (+ 351) 967 303 519
E-mail: [email protected]
GPS Coordinates 38° 28′ 14.196″ N 28° 25′ 34.860″ W | Google Maps


Authorization request for autonomous climbs (to be delivered at Casa da Montanha)
Pico Mountain Access Regulation
Pico Mountain Standards of Conduct

If any of the links don’t work, visit Casa da Montanha‘s address.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_facebook][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row el_id=”percurso”][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Route Map” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:22px|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]Mountain House Coordinates (start): 38.47061, -28.42635 | open Google Maps
Peak Coordinates (top): 38.468657, -28.399272 | open Google Maps

Track: (GPX file)[/vc_column_text][vc_gmaps link=”#E-8_JTNDaWZyYW1lJTIwc3JjJTNEJTIyaHR0cHMlM0ElMkYlMkZ3d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbSUyRm1hcHMlMkZkJTJGZW1iZWQlM0ZtaWQlM0QxY2tvV2pweHJJenFGLWxpMmo0aGl3RkRrR2l3JTIyJTIwd2lkdGglM0QlMjI2NDAlMjIlMjBoZWlnaHQlM0QlMjI0ODAlMjIlM0UlM0MlMkZpZnJhbWUlM0U=” size=”400px”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

0 comment

Similar posts

Leave a Comment

Envie este artigo a um amigo