Pico dos Frades

  • Pico dos Frades
  • 942 m
  • Primary factor 433 m
  • Sao Jorge, Azores
  • Location: North 38.59005, West 027.89013 (GPS on the summit)
  • Difficulty: YDS class 2
  • Climbed: July 23. 2014


Here is quick summary of my climbs in the Azores islands.
How to get there:
Drive south-east along the main highway that runs on the south side of the island. When you pass (north of) the village Calheta, then pay attention in order to fork (right) onto the Hwy. ER 2-2, that continues on the south side of the island crest towards the village Topo near the very end of the island. This road makes some distinct curves, then there is parking and signs for an official trailhead (parking on the right), continue along the Hwy. and pay attention as you pass a small side-road going right with a sign saying Loiral.
There are several possible trailheads here, I drove to N38.74013, W028.28927, and parked where a small road went right.
Route description:
From the trailhead described above, walk a bit back and located a farmers track that follows a fence going across the field and then sloping uphill towards the saddle between Pico dos Frades and Pico das Fachos further right. Actually, follow the track that stays on the left of the fence and or vegetation that forms a boundary. You will be heading towards the lower part of the south-east ridge of Frades. Continue until you are on the main crest, i.e. until the slope is definitely downhill if you continue along in the same direction. From here, turn left and follow the main crest/ridge gently uphill.
There is a lot of brush and bush with some paths and somewhat easier terrain scattered around. Pick your way carefully. Eventually, you will top out, still in a fairly flat area completely filled by difficult bushy terrain. When you can see downhill in all directions, just declare that you have earned the summit, due to all the hard work and struggle it took you to get up here.
This peak looked like the most attractive goal after I visited the island high point. While driving in this direction, I first crossed very near the prominence saddle, Pico dos Frades is clearly the highest mountain in this end of the island.
I parked and started across the fields while following the farmers track. Unfortunately, dense fog soon descended on me and reduced my visibility to almost zero. No way to plan progress based on a somewhat longer range view.
I continued to a crest, then picked up some small trails leading in the direction of the summit. Unfortunately, there was no way to judge progress or how to find a route that would avoid all the dense brush/bush that seemed to grow everywhere. However, I had plenty of time and decided to just keep pushing. Finally, after quite some time, I arrived at a point where the terrain definitely sloped downhill in all directions.
No secure way to determine if this would be a local top and that the terrain would continue uphill past my short range of visibility. I took GPS coordinates and knew that only a check of this coordinates with a map after my return would show if I made the summit or not.
Fortunately, the map check revealed that I indeed had been to the proper summit.