A Day in the Cumbre Nueva to Punta de las Roques – Transvulcania Ultramarathon

©iancorless.com_LaPalma2015-5563

Yesterday, I planned a little outing with Niandi. No plans really, in all honesty, we didn’t even know which section of the Transvulcania course we would go on. The main problem with running on the Transvulcania course is logistics. In real terms, you always need to run out-and-back routes.

We ended up going to El Pilar, an early and key aid station that comes approximately one third into the Transvulcania race. It’s about a 50-min drive from Tazacorte (where I am staying) which is the end of the GR131 route before the final push up to Los Llanos and the finish of the Transvulcania race.

El Pilar allows easy access to the Volcano Route section and a direct option back to the coast and  Fuencaliente lighthouse, as such, it is the route most people take.

We decided to go north, head out of El Pilar and follow the GR131 into the Cumber Nueva in the direction of Roques de los Muchachos.

©iancorless.com_LaPalma2015-4496

Leaving El Pilar, looking out to the west you get to see Los Llanos, Tazacorte and the sea in the distance. These tropical, muddy, forest trails provide the Transvulcania runners some of the easiest running so far in the race but eventually this comes to an end at Reventon Pass and the climb up to Punta de los Roques.

©iancorless.com_LaPalma2015-4547

The Cumbre Nueva and following sections are for me one of the most stunning sections of the Transvulcania route. From Reventon Pass to Punta de los Roques in particular is stunning! Onwards to Pico de las Nieves, the trails open up and the push to Roques de los Muchachos leads to the final drop to Tazacorte . Mixing rocky terrain with stunning vegetation, the route is incredible from a running and visual perspective. It is also very prone to an inversion; where the cloud drops below the high points creating a stunning almost dream like backdrop.

©iancorless.com_LaPalma2015-4851

The mist comes in, visibility is reduced, the temperature drops and suddenly you feel like you are in a different place. You question, ‘will the good weather come back?’

©iancorless.com_LaPalma2015-5355

Then suddenly, you break through the cloud, the white fluffy clouds are below and a wonderful blue backdrop adds an amazing palette to run or walk against.

©iancorless.com_LaPalma2015-5176

Single track trails of good running constantly creep up beyond 2000m to Punta de los Roques and the Refugio. Here stunning views of the Caldera de Taburiente are possible and off in the distance, the observatories of Roques de los Muchachos can be seen.

©iancorless.com_LaPalma2015-5422

Around every corner a surprise. It doesn’t matter if you are running or walking, these trails offer so much.

The Transvulcania route is always a constant surprise and I am always amazed at how the terrain, weather, vegetation and views change as you move through the route. Our day in the Cumber Nueva was a special one, topped off with this stunning image as Niandi ran around a mountain corner, the inversion clearly visible and if one image sums up skyrunning, this may be it.

©iancorless.com_LaPalma2015-5563

You can view daily images from our stay in La Palma HERE

screenshot_303

Roques de los Muchachos, La Palma – Transvulcania Ultramarathon

©iancorless.com_LaPalma2015-2160

The island of La Palma has always ticked many boxes for me, it’s a quiet island that lacks tourism, it has incredible all-year round weather and of course it hosts the Transvulcania Ultramarthon.

I’ve been coming here since 2012; it never disappoints. This year I’m here to find some quiet time to write content for my book, Running Beyond. But I am also here for a long overdue holiday, to spend time with Niandi (who gets neglected with all my travel) but also to get back to some regular time on the trails.

Notice I said, ‘time on the trails’ and not running. To be honest, I’ll take the running if the body will allow, it’s not important though, I just need the head space and the isolation the trails out here bring.

We have no plans other than to work and get objectives done each day and then spend the rest of time doing what makes us happy. Yesterday, I was up early and decided I wanted to be finished with work by midday. My plan was to head up into the mountains and run/ walk/ hike around the rim of the Caldera de Taburiente. In the Transvulcania Ultramarathon, this is often referred to as Roques de los Muchachos but actually Roques is the end of the section where the observatories are located and then the long 18km drop and descent to Tazacorte Port.

It’s an incredible place and one of the key sections of the Transvulcania Ultramarthon due to its elevation of 2400+m and the stunning views it provides to the east and the west. In the east one can see the islands of TenerifeEl Hierro and La Gomera and they are visible in the photos. The terrain here varies greatly from technical rocky sections of jagged and irregular rock to sandy and dusty trail. Although the trail goes up and down, in real terms most of the climbing is done by the time you reach Pico de la Nieve at 2232m.

Niandi and myself accessed the GR131 (Transvulcania route) at Pico de la Nieve as a trail, the PR LP 3 comes in from the main access road (LP4).

From the road it’s a 20-30min hike in to the GR131 and then it’s possible to follow the Transvulcania route on an out-and-back to Roques de Los Muchachos (approx 10km, 20km round trip).

Needless to say it’s a stunning section of trail and I have to say, one of my favourites in the world. Key sections are Pico de la Cruz, Piedra a Llana, Marro Negro, Pico de la Cruz and Fuente Nueva before arriving at Roques de los Muchachos.

If you are a runner, hiker, walker or basically someone just looking for an inspirational day on trail with stunning views, I can’t recommend this enough.

Yesterday for me was one of those special days; from early afternoon, through to sunset and then finishing off in the dark with just a headlight, the moon, the stars and Niandi for company.

Niandi and myself didn’t worry about pace, time, or anything for the that matter. We just moved, stopped, took photographs and soaked in a magical place.

So magical, I wanted to share the journey in images.