Estreitinho, Corvo island HP

  • Estreitinho, Corvo island HP
  • 720 m
  • Primary factor 720 m
  • Corvo, Azores
  • Location: North 39.69944, West 031.11513 (GPS on the summit)
  • Difficulty: YDS class 2
  • Climbed: July 27. 2014


Here is a quick summary of my climbs in the Azores islands.
How to get there:
A natural point of departure is the larger island Flores. In the summer, there is a regular boat operated by Atlantico, that makes a round trip every day provided that the sea is not too rough. In July 2014, this boat left Santa Cruz, Flores at 1115 with the return trip leaving Corvo at 1700. In good weather, the crossing takes 40 minutes. The round trip ticket costs Euro 20. Note that tickets should be bought in advance as the boat only takes 12 passengers and may be fully booked the day before departure. Tickets are sold by Riac, their office is in the center of Santa Cruz.
The hotels and at least one private operator also runs trips, but these are less regular. The private operator uses a low profile RIB boat with a 250 HP outboard engine. It costs more, people are certain to get wet (on a bumpy ride!) and I do not think it is any faster than the bigger boat I used.

Route description:
Note that the Corvo island HP is also called Morro dos Homens, however on my local map this name is associated with the lower summit that one reaches first when going clockwise around the crater rim.

First, one needs to get up to the crater rim following the road that starts in the Corvo village. It might be a good idea, dpending on how much time is available, to take a taxi ride up there. I was asked by a friendly taxi driver as soon as I stepped off the boat. The price was 5 Euro.
The taxi driver on Corvo is Carlos Alberto Numes dos Reis (Carlos Reis). His phone numbers are 964-577-765 or 918-231-492 (possibly also 292-596-141). His email is
From the turn-around (for cars) at the rim, go left (south) and ascend the ridge in front of you. The trouble/challenge with this hike will soon present itself. The green moss is very deep and as soon as you step on it, your foot will slowly sink deep into the ground/moss. This is actually a worse than walking in deep, wet snow without skis or snow-shoes. Look for some local trench that runs more or less in your direction, get into it as walking is (much) better there. Still, there are sections after the first slope and before the first summit, where this very cumbersome moss seems unavoidable. One may easily sink as deep as well beyond knee-depth. The substance is wet and you sink sort of slowly, but unavoidably. I tried to crawl, but my arms would also sink in. Perhaps rolling along would be a possibility - I did not really try this. This work is very hard and progress is exceedingly slow. Fortunately, this trouble ends and the conditions improves as one gets further along the crater rim.
The first crater summit that is clearly higher than 700 meter is called Morro dos Homens (on my local map). Next follows a shallow saddle before the rim again rises to a pretty long, high section with several local summits along it. The highest point comes in the beginning and is named Estreitinho, 720 meter on the local map. My GPS measured somewhat higher (about 10 meter higher) values along this rim ridge.
There were no signs of any trail or footprints. Perhaps even more surprising, there were no markers of any kind on any of the many small crater rim summits. These observations indiccate that this island HP is climbed rather infrequently.
I took the boat from Flores at 1115. Met a young couple from Portugal on the boat. There were still a few big waves, but the boat still kept a good speed and we arrived in Corvo at 1200 - 45 minutes. There, a local taxi driver solicited for taking people to the crater rim, essentially the only road that exist on this small island. The cost was 5 Euro and I decided to do this, getting ahead of my planned schedule (I had planned to walk up.) The two Portugise decided to come along and pretty soon, we were all standing in a complete fog with zero visibility at the end of the road. I assumed my friends would return swiftly, so I told them goodbye and headed up to the left, beginning my climb along the crater rim at 1230.
I quickly ran into this impossible soft moss sections and progress almost ended. I realized that taking the taxi had been a good choice. If these absolutely terrible conditions continued for long, then I would need all the time available until my boat would depart at 1700 back for Flores island. Often sinking in almost to my hips, I tried a number of different techniques, but they all seemed to fail. To crawl on legs and arms did not work, trying small, fast steps before sinking in completely, also failed, typically with a sudden fall forward. Fortunately, conditions improved and I looked more optimistic at my future.
In dense fog, the determination of which of the many small humps on the ridge would be the highest was difficult. I crossed over all the small bumps along my way and made GPS readings at several locations. It would have been very unfortunate to turn back just before the proper HP. I knew that the highest point was located along the south side of the crater. I therefore decided to keep hiking along the rim until my compass told me that the rim was clearly going north. I reach such a point after 1:30, here the ridge narrowed and disappeared downhill in the fog.
Turning around at 1400, I had some luck with following some animal tracks slightly inside the crater. Eventually, I still ran into this section of impossible moss, but knowing its finite length, my morale was a bit higher and I emerged out of the fog at the top of the road at 1500. Surprisingly, my two Portugese friends came out of the fog from the opposite direction, within 30 seconds of my arrival. They had hiked a well marked trail down to the lakes in the crater and were vey happy with the trip. They also had called for the taxi just minutes ago, so perfect timing.
The last hour before my boat departed for Flores was spent exploring the Corvo village. A very old, but very nice place. Small, narrow passages. Old, wooden signs and some nicely designed wind-mills, very different from the current design. There were some nice places for swimming, not only sheltered, but even with black, volcanic sand on some small beaches. The Corvo island has been populated for 500 years. It is certainly one of the most remote parts of Europe. Currently, the population is about 370. Besides the small village and its 800 meter airport, the island has about 10 kilometer of roads, the longest one serving the crater rim. There are some cars, they are naturally, parked mmost of the time. Corvo has one police-man, and a single police vehicle that he may use to respond.