Snowball Fight on the highest mountain of Portugal-Pico

Date: 07.03.2021
Position: Velas, São Jorge

“Watch out!” I heard a scream behind me and a moment later, a snowball passed me very close and hit the neck of our biology teacher. Now you could think: “What? Snowballs on the Acores? Yes, it sounds crazy, but that’s the truth! I am standing on top of a rock and look around: Everywhere I could see the blue sea with some ships on it, some craters of the volcano, many clouds and shadowy the other islands far away. Where am I? I am at the highest mountain of Portugal. It is the Pico and it is 2351 meters high.

Earlier this morning:

“It’s 05.10 h, wake up!”, a voice said in my ear. What? I haven’t got any watch! I turned my face away and tried to ignore this person. “Magdalena, I know you are awake! Stand up, it will be a wonderful day!” Slowly, the memories of the plans for this day came back into my mind. “Oh, we want to climb the Pico today”, I remember.

After breakfast at 05:30 we walked to the ferry, wearing many warm clothes. It took us a few minutes to the island Pico from the harbour close to our ship to Madalena a few miles away. Then all of us were transported by our guides to the tourist centre of the Pico National Park. After we got GPS trackers to be found in case of emergency, we started to hike at 9 o’ clock. Good and sunny weather, nice scenery and beautiful landscape awaited us. It was great! The weather conditions were perfect! The first part was easy because the path was made of flat volcanic rock. Then it became steeper and steeper and the stones got smaller and smaller, so that you slipped back two steps after every step. That meant I didn’t come forward very fast and that it was much more demanding. While we hurried up the mountain very fast and just with a few breaks but – in contrast to the usual thoughts – this way of hiking was also very cool. The higher we got the colder it got and slowly we could also see some icicles of the edge of some rocks. When we were almost at the top there was a big crater. Full of ice. It was very funny to slide over the icy surface there because I always thought of the coming spring in Germany or even in lower parts of this region which means there isn’t much snow any more. It was the first time I went on such a high mountain. The Pico do Fogo was a bit higher but I had not climbed this volcano because of my foot injury. And then…Wow!

We reached the top of Pico. The whole way up was great and almost all the time you could see the sea below us but what you could see from the top was just amazing! You could see the other islands around us. On the left hand there were the islands Terceira and Sao Jorge which we want to visit soon and on the right Faial (if I looked straight into this direction I could almost see the Thor) appeared. I could also see the “tiny” ships in the dark, blue Atlantic Ocean on which we had been sailing across for many weeks, lush green plains and many small craters below us. When I saw that I could really imagine how this volcano erupted once. On the top, we had our lunch, took some pictures and enjoyed the view and the sun. It was almost warm on our way back. Though I found it harder than our way up, I saw more of the scenery because I had not to look on the ground all the time. We also did some snowball fights which was really funny on top of an active volcano where we are used to think of heat and not of snow. After a few hours our nice and friendly guides had brought us back to the busses. We said good bye, went back to the ferry and back home on our ship. It was a really beautiful trip which I want to make again, if I should ever come back.