Don’t visit Cumbre Vieja in wintertime

Cumbre Vieja is a chain of volcanic edifices which form the spine of a wedge-shaped La Palma. It is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. It was high on my list of places to go but unfortunately the weather on this rift (mostly little less than 2000 meters high) was miserable the whole time I spent on the island.

It really does not matter much whether it is summer or winter if you plan to spend your days on a beach. However, it is entirely different story when you plan to go up in the mountains. I postponed going there several days. Finally I decided to go anyway, no matter what is going on there because time was running out. I did about 15 km hike with a climb of 800 meters. It rained the whole time but when I got up on the rift it was getting real crazy.

Wind was so strong that rain fell almost horizontally and temperature was far from being hot. Combination of strong wind, constant rain, and cold air temperature is quite hard to tolerate. I had no gloves. I tried to protect my bare hands in pockets but my hiking pants were all wet although these damn things should theoretically be waterproof. It was painful to take photos and camera was useful only for close range shots because visibility was very bad.

I tried to take samples of lapilli but I could not open ziploc bags. I just tossed some into my backpack. My fingers were too clumsy because of cold. When I finally got back to my car it was difficult to undone shoelaces. Seriously, I just could not move my fingers to do it. This was quite extreme and definitely not what people imagine when I say that I just came from the Canaries.

But memories like that are worth collecting because adventures will be remembered but hardships will pass as soon as fingers are moving again. However, because of this trip I believe I will visit La Palma in the future again. This rift is very interesting but I want to enjoy it in nice weather. This time I did not see much at all. It has to be summer, I guess.

This picture of a volcanic bomb (about 15 cm across) is the best picture I managed to take.

Driving down from Cumbre Vieja. Not much visibility at all.


1 comment to Don’t visit Cumbre Vieja in wintertime

  • The Geologist

    No gloves, clothes that were wet!!! What planet does this writer live on as in the northern hemisphere winter tends to be cold, wet, windy and often even the high peaks of La Palma, Tenerife have snow on them. Certainly didn’t do his or her home work, but then I have seen visitors at the top of Teide on Tenerife in shorts and tee shirts wearing open toed sandals with 2 or 3 m of snow on the ground and they complained about the cold! Do people really think that snow is only cold in northern Europe but it will be somehow warm in the tropics. Rule in winter carry warm, wind-proof and waterproof clothing regardless of whether you are in the Alps or on a tropical island if you wish to do geological field work!

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