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Post details Post   (Contract pics)
brenno
2013-05-13 13:21:55
"Lava bomb on Stromboli" from brenno Contract pics
Picture: Lava bomb on Stromboli (Contract pics)

Aeolian Islands, Sicily - Stromboli
For anybody going hiking in the Aeolian Islands, the ultimate target is Stromboli – one of the most active volcanoes in the world and which has given its name to the geological term strombolian – when molten fountains of magma are spurted out of the crater at regular intervals.

Unlike the other volcanic destinations in the archipelago which involve easy climbs, Stromboli is a serious 924 metre climb up the cone directly from sea level any anybody doing the climb will need some of the gear they use in Ireland – even gaiters (more on gaiters later!), as well as being able to hike at steady Grade 2 pace.

You also have to bear in mind that you can’t just climb Stromboli, you have to go with a registered guide as part of a group – this is for safety reasons as this is a very active volcanoe and anybody wandering off the main tracks could be in real danger. Guided hikes usually start off around 5pm from Stromboli village with the aim of reaching the crater rim around 7.00-7.30pm for the natural firework show. Helmets, head torches etc and other gear are provided by the guiding companies if you haven’t got them yourself.

The trek up the mountain is at a steady Grade 2 pace, as the guided groups leave at specific time intervals to try and ensure that everybody will get at least 20 minutes at the top for the fireworks. You can walk unguided up 400 metres – through the macchia (macquis) to a viewing point overlooking the Sciara del Fuoco, where most the molten rock is discharged into and which slopes steeply down to the sea.

Beyond 500 metres and you are on the open cone of the mountain and it’s a steady zig-zag trek up to the high point of the crater rim at 924 metres. Our guide told us that you really have to be unlucky if Stromboli goes through one of its rare sleepy periods and certainly when we were up there we saw a series of amazing eruptions. The lava bomb in the picture is about 20 metres wide and was just one of half a dozen we saw.

For the descent gaiters are absolutely essential and not for the reasons we use them in Ireland, as the descent is very steep through very fine and deep volcanic sand which will soon fill your boots without gaiters. Even with gaiters, you’re going to need to empty your boots at the bottom of the mountain. One note of warning, people with respiratory ailments are recommended not to do this trek, the sand on the descent is so fine that face masks are only so much use!
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