Snowboarding on El Teide

Sitting on the beach in this glorious heat, looking up at Teide, it is hard to imagine the mountain covered in snow. Of the many words one tends to associate with Tenerife; sunshine, beaches and carnival among others; snowboarding is certainly not one of them. But little more than a few weeks ago we are doing just that: snowboarding the east face of Teide!

After several failed attempts, including storms, flooding, rock falls, broken bindings and a flat tyre, we eventually made it up to Teide on a glorious sunny day, with the mountain covered in a layer of beautiful white powder. We pulled the assortment of gear from the car, and, with our snowboards slung under our arms, started the long hike up. At this altitude, any walking is quite strenuous, but with snowboarding boots on and lugging your snowboard with you all the way, it seems to go on forever. When you finally reach the top, and you see a boarders dream of a mass of white snow falling away in front of you, down into the caldera, and beyond the circular ridge of mountains; the magnificent silhouette of Gran Canaria beautifully placed on the horizon in front of you, a big fat smile appears on your face, and your pounding heart beats just that little bit faster. Where else in the world can you sit on top of a perfect slope, with a snowboard on your feet, and gaze down at the sea and neighbouring islands?

The impatience sets in and you want to set off immediately, but your frantic breathing, grasping what little oxygen you can out of the air at this altitude, is screaming at you to stop for a minute or two. When your breathing returns to normal, being replaced by the adrenalin in your blood as you know the time is nearing, you push yourself to your feet and start to fly down the mountain. The feeling of freedom at this speed, coming as close to real flying as you will ever get still touching the ground, fills your body from your tingling toes to the tears in your eyes as the wind whistles through you. The knowledge of total control being stretched to the limit as you push yourself just that little bit harder, fills your body with even more adrenalin. You tear down the mountain, the only sounds reaching your ears being the crinkling whoosh of the snow under your board, pulling turn after turn, on each, reaching out with your hand held high as your body brushes the snow underneath you. You do this again and again, the walking up dulled as much as possible by taking your mind far away and inventing hundreds of weird and wonderful ways of getting up the mountain without actually having to walk, until you finally give in to your body and what the exertions at that altitude do to it and you set off back on the long walk down to the car.

What a better way to end a days snowboarding with a beer or two on the beach watching the sun go down behind La Gomera? I ask you; where else in the world would you be able to do this?