'Tenerife' in deep snow - Asby Bay, Cape Breton
"If you’re looking for a spectacular view with a wicked workout, look no further. Tenerife might be the steepest hike here on the island."
Tenerife in the springtime, summer or autumn is anything but easy. It’s got a very steep climb, full of loose rock scrambling that leads up to the rocky peak that you can see from the road. The winds usually whip strongly at the top and weather typically changes at a moment’s notice.
But that didn’t stop us from adventuring and attempting this climb in the depths of winter!
From the moment that the idea stirred in Roman’s head until we arrived at the trailhead, all I could think was this is going to be beyond tough. We loaded the car with our winter gear, hiking boots, snowshoes, hiking poles, gaiters (because, you know, the snow), backpacks with some food and water (we can always pack more), and hit the road. When we arrived at the trailhead we put on our gear and away we went. Fortunately, we hiked it on a mild winter’s day and we were soon taking layers off instead of putting them on, which meant more gear into the backpacks. Ha!
The first part was really fun, we were trailblazing in snowshoes and the snow was falling slowly; it was a perfect winter day. The ease of the trail quickly changed when we arrived at the base and began our ascent for Tenerife. The trail going up is usually full of loose rock and roots, and in any other season you really have to watch your step. In the snow, it was tricky but loose rock was frozen to the ground; our snowshoes slipped, and poles often didn’t dig deep enough to give a good push. Sometimes we crawled or scrambled our way up, zigzagging and holding onto trees and small branches. The winds even picked up as we got closer, but we made our way to the peak. What a feat it was to make it to the top!
The snow squalls that started that day persisted most of the climb and stayed with us at the top of Tenerife. The view is hauntingly beautiful; you can see the age of the earth and what once was an ancient fjord is now a lush valley, with flowing water. The mountain range goes on for miles. On that day, the view was slightly obstructed with snow billowing around the mountain tops; it created an epic scene for photography and made the climb even more dramatic.
Our descent was childish amusement. We removed the snowshoes, because they were becoming cumbersome and started sliding down on our bottoms! It was the fasted we made it to the base compared with any other time. Usually, you have to watch for loose rocks and branches on your way down in the other seasons, but in the winter the snow cover was a perfect blanket. When we made it out of the trail we got to the car and fell on our backs into the snow; relieved to be finished such a climb in winter!
The trail has two levels of difficulty, the base trail (trailhead to the base of the mountain) which is an easy woodland trail, and then the steep mountain climb (can be strenuous). The trail is marked with trail markers (orange-red tape) and is visible in winter.
From the road, this trailhead is easy to miss, because it is not clearly visible.
Directions: From Cheticamp head about 70kms towards Cape North. At the main intersection turn left towards Bay St. Lawrence. Drive 4.2 km and look for a small parking area on your right. The trail head starts on the opposite side of the road and is marked by a small flag.