Climbing mount Etna.
During my travels around Europe, I really wanted to dust off my hiking boots and hike/climb some mountains. I actually started back in the UK when I’d just finished converting my van and I wanted to take it to Scotland and the Isle Of Skye to test it out. While myself and Ellie were in Scotland we pulled up at Ben Nevis, stayed the night in the carpark and climbed Ben Nevis the next day which was really good.
While I’ve been in mainland Europe I have climbed 2 in Slovakia (Dumbier and Chopok) and I always had my eye on Mt Etna, the active volcano in Sicily. Well, that day came and I stayed the night in the Northside carpark which cost 8 Euro for the day but got the next morning/day free as I drove off.
They were no signage for campers at 8 Euro, only cars at 1.50 Euro which I thought was a bit steep. That night the sky was so clear there was no light pollution and the comet meteor shower was also happening and I saw a good 10-15 shooting stars while I looked up to the sky while enjoying a cool beer. After some research, I noticed you can walk to the top of both summits without having a guide (cost 55 Euro and a further 25 Euro for the guide to take you to the summit). My plan was to get up about 6.30am and leave at 7am…..which I did. The sun was just coming up and the peak of Etna was way in the distance, so I got walking and the views were amazing.
I gave myself a good 4 hours to reach the top and I was also told if you did get caught and wanted a guide I would have to pay 25 Euro and meet them before 11am as they get booked up.
The sky was clear and Etna volcano was letting off some hot steam into the cold higher air creating some sulphur clouds which could be seen for miles around. I also read that Etna can cause her own atmosphere very quickly and normally changes around midday, this was also a reason why I wanted to get up early.
After three hours I was nearly there, walking on previous erupted cooled black lava rocks twisting up towards the cloudy summit. I finally reached the summit 3220m roughly (the highest I’ve ever climbed may I add) to be stunned with the size of the hole created.
You couldn’t see down to the bottom as the sulphur steam was constantly making clouds as the air up there was a lot colder than at the car park. I was the only one up there and all I could hear was the bubbling sulphur down below and the light breeze of wind. I could feel the heat of some of the rocks that were letting off Sulphur but couldn’t stay long as it’s not good to breathe in.
I took some photos and had a quick bite to eat and started to head back down when I met a Spanish guy called Montoya, we had a little chat and exchanged Instagram details so we could send each other some pictures from the top. I also took a piece of lava from the top as a memorabilia.
While heading down, other hikers were also hoping to get to the top without the use of a guide which was also nice to know I wasn’t the only silly one to walk up alone. I strongly recommend climbing Mt Etna as it wasn’t difficult to climb like some others I’ve done.
I truly was a highlight of my journey so far.