Climbed this in August 2009. The climb to around cloud level at 1000m is tough. There are a couple routes out of Funchal to Pico Ariero, through Monte or towards Camacha, then left along E203. I took that route as though it might be easier; was 10-15% upto 1000m(!), but then your pretty much home & dry. Totally fantastic views; 30min descent with rims on fire!