Punta de los Roques seen in the evening afterglow
Punta de los Roques is one of the most distinctive mountains on the crest of the Caldera de Taburiente
on La Palma. It is located at the intersection of the caldera rim with the ridge of the Cumbre Nueva Range, which you can beautifully see on the satellite picture below. There are only two spots from which you can get to the inside of the caldera: Barranco de las Angustias to the south-west, which starts at sea level and the Cumbrecita Saddle exactly to the south of the Caldera. This saddle is located at an elevation of 1287m and Punta de los Roques towers about 800m above it. However, there is no single big 800m wall. Between the Punta and the Cumbrecita Saddle there are a number of forecastles, which rapidly losing elevation end at the Roques de La Cumbrecita, two spire-like towers just above the saddle.
There are two ascent routes, both following Ruta de la Cresteria
, the two day trekking trail around Caldera de Taburiente. From the south you follow the Cumbre Nueva Ridge, while from the north the shortest route is the Direct Eastern Ascent
to Pico de la Nieve
followed by a traverse southward along the caldera crest.
Summit views into the Caldera de Taburiente and across the Cumbrecita Saddle are breathtaking. In fact - as you hike the southern route to the mountain - they develop and culminate in the summit view. However, Canary Fag usually starts to pile up during the late morning hours. Around noon it often reaches elevations of 2000m so that Punta de los Roques barely peeps out from the clouds.
270° Caldera Panorama
Panorama from Refugio de la Punta de los Roques across Caldera de Taburiente
Cumbre Nueva with the southern route to Punta de los Roques
La Palma, like all the other Canarian Islands can easily be reached from almost all major European airports. The airport is rather small and compared to Tenerife or Gran Canaria air trafic is rather low. There are almost no regular flights but all year round you'll be able to book charter flights. The airport itself is located on the eastern coast of the island, almost at its centre.
There are two trailheads, the same ones which you use for the ascent to Pico de la Nieve: one is located near the mountain road LP-22 (a small parking lot 300m below Pico de la Nieve), the other is the southern trailhead for Ruta de
la Cresteria at the Ermita de la Virgen del Pino right in the centre of the island. In principle you could also start from the town of Las Nieves to the east of the island but here the ascent routes are so incredibly steep and long that it just isn't funny anymore. These routes are hidden inside a pine forest so that you don't even get views while scrambling up on your hands and feet.
- Mountain Road LP-22
Follow LP-1 from the airport through the capital of Santa Cruz. After the city at El Morro LP-22 turns off to the left (west). There are signs for the observatories at Roque de los Muchachos. Follow the winding road towards Pico de la Nieve. A rugged side road leads to a parking lot but you can also start directly from LP-22.
- Ermita de la Virgen del Pino
Follow LP-1 northward and at the roundabout turn onto LP-2 (direction Los Llanos through the Cumbre Nueva Tunnel. At the Visitor Centre (Caldera de Taburiente, 2km after the tunnel) turn onto LP-202 direction Cumbrecita. After about 1km turn to the right (east). There are already signs for the Ermita which is at the end of the road.
The summit of Punta de los Roques is located directly on the park boundary of Parque Nacional de la Caldera de Taburiente. Within park limits straying off the trails is not allowed (and actually can be quite dangerous). Also camping is not allowed. But:
to the side of Punta de los Roques there is a little hut (not maintained), the Rifugio de la Punta de los Roques, which you can use for overnight accommodation. Trekkers, who do the double of Ruta de los Volcanes and Ruta de la Cresteria often use the rifugio overnight.
Refugio de la Punta de los Roques
Camping is a bit of a problem on La Palma. There are some official campgrounds in the north. Like said above near Punta de los Roques you can find a cabin (called Rifugio de la Punta de los Roques). Many trekkers on Ruta de la Cresteria use the cabin or the space around it to sleep below the open sky.
Other accommodations are no problem. Every European travel office will be able to book hotels, rooms and apartments for you. I won't include any links here because all of them definitely are commercial. Another option is to rent a finca (rural house) from the owners directly. You'll have to google for these but sometimes prices are low enough for the scheme to be worthwhile.
Usually all year round the Canarias have the same weather with little alterations: north-eastern trade winds which deposit fog and dew on the north-eastern slopes of the islands. The eastern and southern parts usually are very dry and there you'll get some hours of sunshine each day. Especially on the higher islands like La Palma you usually don't have to worry about weather too much. The mountaintops will stick out of the clouds.
Punta de los Roques seen from Pico de la Cruz
There are no reliable weather forecasts for the mountain regions of La Palma. Often a cloudless day turns into a foggy one within half an hour. Forecasts for the coastal regions, however are available. You have to subtract 0.7°C for every 100m of altitude so that Roque de los Muchachos will still be near freezing when the coasts have already fine and sunny beach weather. The following table gives a little overview about the average weather data of the capital of Santa Cruz:
|Avg. day temp.[°C / °F]||21 / 70||21 / 70||22 / 72||22 / 72||22 / 72||24 / 75||25 / 77||26 / 79||26 / 79||26 / 79||24 / 75||22 / 72|
|Avg. night temp.[°C / °F]||15 / 59||14 / 57||15 / 59||16 / 61||17 / 63||18 / 64||19 / 66||21 / 70||21 / 70||19 / 66||18 / 64||16 / 61|
|Water temp.[°C / °F]||19 / 66||18 / 64||19 / 66||19 / 66||19 / 66||20 / 68||22 / 72||23 / 73||22 / 72||22 / 72||21 / 70||20 / 68|
|Sunny Hours / Day||5||6||6||7||8||9||10||9||8||6||5||5|
Maps & BooksMaps
I have used a fantastic map by Freytag & Berndt which shows all of the many hiking and biking trails of the island. With its scale of 1:30000 it is still large enough to be usefu for car tours as well. Moreover here you will find all the new designations and acronyms (which were changed some few years back).
- La Palma
Edition Freytag & Berndt
The guidebook I used is every bit as good as the map with excellent tour descriptions. It is available in English as well but I am not sure about the quality of the translation.
- La Palma
A. and W. Wolfsperger