Thursday, September 21, 2006

Taking On The Beast

Within plain sight of Catania (and most of the western half of Sicily actually) is the biggest active volcano in all Europe: Mount Etna. At 11,000 feet high it was high on my list of "to-do's" while in Sicily, mostly for the hiking and the view, although climbing volcano's in Sicily would become a habit as I later climbed the most active volcano in the world in Stromboli (located just off the coast of Sicily and part of the Aolean Islands).

I was worried about the heat but leaving later in the afternoon gave plenty of time for the climb while still having light of day as well as offering a bit a repreave from the mid-day sun. The weather couldn't have been better in fact!



Although Etna is constantly erupting (they are like "baby" eruptions), there's rarely any danger below the very top of the mountain. There was however some destructive activity a couple years ago. As the picture below will contest, the eruption and subsequant lava flow in 2001 took out some of the houses. This one was only partially covered and is actually still open as a touristy store selling postcards and the like. They also carved out some of the lava rock to construct a make-shift storage wearhouse!

The one side however is completly covered, that's the roof I'm standing on:



Speaking of caverns, there are many caves and tunnels created from the lava flow/cooling around certain areas on the mountain, why looky here:



This is me being a bit grumpy after wonking my head off the low hanging roof of the cave:



The location: perfect.
The weather: perfect.
The company: perfect.
The experience: priceless :-)

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