Climbing Pico Mountain in the Azores

Climbing Pico Mountain in the Azores

Pico Mountain is the highest point in all of Portugal, at 2,351m. The walk to the summit begins at a height of 1,200m at the Casa da Montanha. From here it’s a continuous climb that takes around four hours to the crater walls of the summit.

Shaped like a perfect cone, eye-catching Pico Volcano is a natural target for anyone who loves high places.

If you’re looking to climb Pico mountain safely then we’d recommend a month or two of walking training (unless you’re already in condition!). For the willing and able, it’s an unforgettable experience to climb and descend the beautiful, perfectly-shaped volcanic cone. If you’d like to visit Pico Mountain but don’t feel that the summit ascent is for you, don’t worry – we’ve other guided and self-guided walks on the mountain slopes that may be more suitable.

We always recommend a guided ascent if people who are travelling with us are interested in reaching the summit crater of Pico Mountain. There are a few good reasons for this:

  • Our guides improve your day! They’re very personable and knowledgeable about the volcano and their island home. They’ll show you the best route options and give you tips on how to conserve energy and move safely on the steep, and at times loose, terrain.
  • Climbing Pico Mountain is weather-dependent and booking a guided trip takes the hassle and stress out of deciding whether or not conditions are suitable. If conditions aren’t favourable, we’ll contact you to re-arrange the day to suit you.
  • Access to the mountain is by permit only. Numbers of people on the mountain at any one time, and in any 24-hour period, are limited. Because our guides arrange the permits for you in advance, joining a guide trip takes away the uncertainty of whether or not you’ll get a pass on the day you’re there.
  • The descent of the mountain is harder technically and physically than the ascent, with four hours of steep, difficult walking. The best line is on solid rock and requires agile, strong footwork – stepping off the very grippy solid rock brings you to a surface that has the grip characteristic of rough marbles. Our guides know where the safest descent routes are.

The crater walls are spectacular and a fine target for most people. Even if climbing Pico mountain to the crater, you’ll hopefully be rewarded by spectacular views over the neighbouring islands.  You’ll also see into the stunning summit crater which contains the jewel in the crown – the Piquinho itself.

The summit Piquinho is a mini cone situated inside the summit crater. It’s a thirty-metre descent into the crater and from there the seventy metres of additional height to the Piquinho summit is for scramblers only. In terms of difficulty we’d rate this final seventy metre summit climb as a mid-to-high grade 1 UK scramble, or the high end of US scrambling grade YDS Class 2, as it’s particularly loose and exposed.

Climbing Pico mountain is an amazing experience for the fit and agile. Whether you love mountains, volcanoes, geology or simply spectacular views across the Azores, you’re sure to have a great day out in the company of our guides.

Azores holidays featuring an ascent of Pico mountain

All of our holidays are tailor-made for you. We can make a version of our Self guided walking holiday on Faial, Pico and São Jorge, to include a trip up the mountain. If your family is up for it, you might like to add the walk to our Family adventure on Pico.

Pico island is a short (30 minute) ferry ride from neighbouring Faial and so it’s possible to climb Pico mountain in a long day trip. Our guides will meet you on arrival at Madalena, and take you back in time for your return ferry to Horta. You could add an ascent of Pico mountain to our Faial Whale Watching Holiday. One of our most popular itineraries is our Sao Miguel, Flores and Faial island hopping holiday and again, we can add a day trip to Pico within this holiday.

Useful links

You can follow this webcam link to see live conditions, viewed from Horta on neighbouring Faial.
Here’s a link to a weather forecast of Pico Mountain in the Azores.

Archipelago Choice Azores specialists

We specialise in tailor-made holidays to the nine islands of the Azores Call us on 017687 721020 to begin planning your personalised trip.

Guide Joao pays close attention to footwork

Guiding the steep slopes of Pico Volcano

Joao points the right way

Towards the crater rim

Scrambing up the Piquinho

Paul and Max – Pico summit selfie!

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