We have had a great few days in the Aeolian Islands – a volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The highlight of which was climbing Stromboli – an active volcano that spews lava and other volcanic stuff on a regular basis. Stromboli rises 1000m straight out of the Med and It’s a tough 5 hour trip to the crater and back. The girls didn’t fancy it so Ben and I signed up (you have to climb it with a guide…) and went for it. We had sailied from Capri near the Amalfi coast to Stromboli the previous night, so Ben was a bit tired , but assured me he was up for the 12 Km and 1000m assent….this was to be his biggest and steepest walk yet! We set off at 6pm to time our arrival at the rim of the crater just after sunset. It was quite a walk, much more challenging than I thought, mainly as most of the asent was on ridgelines and saddles covered in loose ash. Ben coped really well with the conditions, the rest of the group on the climb were mainly 20 something backpackers…sad to say, nearer Ben’s age than mine…
We went through a thin cloud layer at about 700m and were treated to a magnificent sunset. Ben was lost for words as we walked up through the clouds and looked down on the world. For those that know him, its rare for him not to talk. It’s only happened twice – once after a karate tournament and then now, on Stromboli. As we approached the sumit we heard the first eruption, a deep grumble and rumble and then a huge explosion followed by an orange glow in the sky above us. Ben looked at me, “Dad, she’s going to blow…we’ve got to get down!” with memories of Pompeii fresh in his little mind, he looked scared stiff!! He pushed his hand into mine and held tight, listening for more eruptions.
He composed himself over a chocolate bar.
We pressed on to the summit. By now it was dark and the firework show Stromboli put on for us was impressive. She burned continually red hot and then every 15 mins or so she erupted violently spewing hot gas and lava into the air. Again, Ben was stunned. Silent except for “Dad, there are dragons here…I know there are”. After an hour watching the show, we turned and headed down, a 1.5 hour return trip down a very steep side of Stromboli in deep ash illuminated by only by head torch.
Ben did incredibly well, we arrived back at the climbing shop just before midnight and the whole group couldn’t believe how strong Ben was, which he lapped up. We then walked the 1km back to the dinghy and heaed back to Vega. Ben was asleep in seconds.
A good day.