Teide Cable Car celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2011/2012. A feat of engineering enjoyed by all the people of Tenerife.
Several ideas and projects for the construction of a cable car that would aid all kinds of visitors in their ascent of Teide had long been bandied about. Yet the only project to eventually see the light was designed by Andrés de Arroyo y González de Chávez. In one of his travels around Germany and Switzerland in 1929, he was impressed by the number of cable cars in practically every region he visited and by the magnificent vistas that could be glimpsed from the upper stations. On his return, he spared no effort to provide Mt Teide with a cable car that would enable all kinds of visitors to enjoy the fantastic views from the peak.
The original construction project was drawn up in 1930 by a civil engineer, José Ochoa Benhumea, and was divided into two sections. The first would connect Mt Majúa with Mt Fría by two reciprocating cabins with a capacity for up to 35 passengers. The second section would leave the first station for the second via a single cabin with a capacity for up to 15 passengers.
On 15 October 1959, the company Teleférico del Pico del Teide S.A. was founded to carry out the construction. Thousands of local families, enthused by the initiative, purchased shares, practically one per family, despite knowing the enormous risks involved in an investment considered disastrous and unrealistic at the time by many experts.
Local people, however, made the project their own, following each development as if it were a personal plan and intuitively perceiving the strategic knock-on effect the initiative would have on the emergence of tourism.
In 1960, the final project and report for construction were drawn up, based on the original design by Ochoa, but transferring the first station from Mt Majúa to its current location. The final document was composed by civil engineer Miguel Pintor Domingo and industrial engineer Francisco Trujillo Armas.
The route was chosen to incorporate the gradient of the terrain as a favourable element as it would facilitate the installation of the towers by lining up the lower station with the only point of solid rock on which the upper station could be built.
In the end, the lower and upper stations were constructed at 2,356 m and 3,555 m, respectively, just 163 m below the summit, covering a difference of level of 1,199 m and with 2,482 m between stations. .
Construction on the cable car began in April 1962 and was a landmark in engineering and human endeavour. The extremely harsh working conditions on Mt Teide and the technical difficulties at a time of low economic development in Tenerife could only be overcome by the skill and dedication of hundreds of workers who participated in the construction. They used grit and stamina to make up for the impracticality of employing sophisticated mechanical means in transporting and constructing the stations, towers and structures. Many of these men hailed from the heights of Valle de La Orotava, and the project would never have been possible without their efforts and tenacity.
After reconsidering and prospecting the terrain in 1963, an exact location was decided. On 4 September, work began on excavations for the access road to the lower station. The cable car took 8 years to build, and construction ended on 27 July 1971, with the signing of the certificate of provisional reception. The initial difficulties arose in wintertime because snowfall and low temperatures meant that, at best, work could only go ahead on the lower station.
At first the materials were carried up by donkey or on the backs of workers, until a hoist was installed, and, in 1967, an auxiliary cableway accelerated construction. The civil and foundation work was undertaken by the company Entrecanales y Tabora S.A., and the cableway installation was undertaken by the Italian firm Ceretti e Tanfani S.A.
The cable car was inaugurated on 18 July 1971 and began operation on 2 August.
Renovation and Continuous Innovation
In 1999, the introduction of a process of continuous technological updating set Teide Cable Car among the five most modern cableways in the world. The substitution of the original cable cars for others of a more aerodynamic and modern design, the replacement of the towers and terminals, the introduction of sophisticated telecontrol systems and the adoption of the most stringent European quality standards for technology and safety have made these facilities an international benchmark. Many of the technologies, patents and facilities introduced and developed have received numerous awards, the most recent being the Premio Agustín de Bethencourt granted by the Colegio Oficial de Ingenieros (Society of Engineers) for the recent replacement of the towers.