Archive for September, 2009


O Kalashnikov!

September 30, 2009

Four days spread out over 3 years; two days 3 years ago and 2 more since arriving at the beginning of September.  That is how long it has taken to do the last move of this problem.  3 years ago I tried it and quickly made it to the last move, a long dynamic move with the left hand from a crimp to a high sloper.  The second day on I met up with Filipe and we both worked on the climb, he sent and I fell a couple of times on the same last move before it got dark and people left… I was on a short visit to Portugal and the next day I flew back to the US.

Today I met up with Nico Favresse and with Rances Rodriguez and after a nice little warm-up we went to check out this climb.  Second try and I was back to falling from the last move.  But this time the mood was different.  No-one was eager to leave, sunset had come and the headlamps were out, and there was a lot of psych going around.  I fell two or three more times then I stuck the move only to fall matching the sloper.  Super amped I added one more element of motivation by putting La Roux’s “Going in for the kill” on the little sound system.  With little rest and much motivation I sent and let out an immense yell of satisfaction!!

Soooo Goood!!


What a climb!  5 stars!  The first 7c (V9) in Portugal and such a beautiful line!  Tall, unique (not an eliminate), excellent sequence of moves…  SO PSYCHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



September 28, 2009

It was the fifth day trying the problem and I was still stumped on the same move, a slap with the left hand from a good crimp to a good but far pocket which juan can’t see because it is around the corner, the slap always caused my body to barndoor immensely.  It was the only move that I couldn’t do.  I figured out the last move, a left-hand dyno from the pocket to a good sloper with the right hand on some terrible divets which you have to crimp or bear down on, the setting up for the dyno would be tough though…

It was 9:00 pm and I was alone in the Sintra mountains.  There was a crescent moon.  The air had a faint breeze.  It was quiet and too warm to be bouldering on granite slopers.  Like many other boulder problems here this one had only seen one ascent, by the abominable Macau.  Similarly to what I have been doing for the past few weeks–bouldering alone–Macau has been exploring and sending in Sintra but for many years.  He graded this climb 7b+,  It was my fifth day on and I was getting sceptical.

After lying on the crash pads with my headlamp off, enjoying the forest soudns, I put the shoes back on, switched the headlamp on and decided to see if a proper sit-start was possible.  The way this problem had been sent and tried by other climbed was get a right hand crimp, to crouch down and place a right heel hook, then place the left hand on a side pull, lift the left foot off the ground and do a left hand deadpoint to a good crimp.  Needless to say it was an awkward start.

The sit start looked improbable but I had nothing better to do, I soon found out that improbable was really only its appearance.  The rock revealed a very nice and natural sequence leading up to the previous start, adding two excellent moves.

Having figured out the new start I managed to climb the problem in two parts and was again left wondering how to do that one middle move.  I examined the whole boulder again, like a chess problem, convinced that it was possible to do and that I just needed to figure it out, to observe it until something clicked.  Then it clicked!  A new foothold, a different body position unlocked a new way of going for the pocket while keeping the body locked close to the rock.  Then I would release the foot and have to hold a less violent barndoor.  It was now close to 10pm, my fingers were raw and close to bleeding and I was super psyched to try this new sequence!  I gave it three good goes but with the low start I was getting to the hard moves without enough juice.  I had to call it a night.

Today was the sixth and last time I had to work on this climb.  The warm up was lame, my body felt great but my skin hadn’t fully recovered and I imagined I would only have a few goes before it might bleed; I found myself resisting doing any effort on the warm up problems in order to save skin and so instead of wasting time I went straight to the boulder.

I brushed the holds and felt them.  The temperature felt warm but the holds felt ok.  I was feeling more and more motivated it was hard to contain the psyche.  I just wanted to get on the climb and do it.  Its a feeling that I have when I know that the climb has now fallen into the possible side of reality.  I can see it happening but it hasn’t happened.  Just possible.  And a part of me told me to relax or I would rush the moves, to contain the motivation… I already had the shoes on and my fingers chalked up but I sad and tried to calm myself down.  After about a minute I got worried that I would calm down too much and begin to be putting off the climbing, hesitating; I told myself I would give it a few burns just to help me warm up and maintain the adrenaline flowing.

I got set up, did the first two moves and hit the left hand crimp slightly off, crimped down and continued, put the right heel on and locked off the left arm, the bad sloper was right there so I reached statically to it with my right hand and my healing fingers told me the hold was exactly on, I locked the body in and reached for the pocket, then tightened the core and slowly released the feet, the hands stayed on!  I adjusted the feet with the right heel on the hard-to-see foothold, felt ok, moved right hand to the miniature grooves and tried to bear down on them, I’m at the dyno, I know this is just a test run, a warm up but I’m here now and it would really suck if I fell from here.  Raised the right foot and fired for the sloper, and hit it!  I remembered Macau saying he still fell a few times after hitting the sloper, and this was my first time here on link, I got the right foot up high and stabbed right hand to a high groove which turned out to be a very positive hold!  Yes!  Climbed up, turned around, gave a good yell and sat at the top of the boulder laughing.  So psyched.  This was supposed to have been the test run, do I have to go again? 🙂

Grades are all subjective, I’m giving it a 7c (V9).  It is an excellent climb, highly recommended.

Not sure what I’ll try next though.  I really enjoy climbing with other people but recently I’ve been bouldering alone and noticing an added depth to the experience.  It’s just me, no-one to complain to or climb hard for or receive psyche from… no spotter on the sketchier moves.  I’m finding it to be a very good learning experience when I go bouldering alone.  You’re doing it only for yourself when you’re alone.  So, I look forward to days when other people show up and to days when no-one else comes.

And now a link to the Zeitgeist movie (note, no climbing in this movie):

<embed id=VideoPlayback src= style=width:400px;height:326px allowFullScreen=true allowScriptAccess=always type=application/x-shockwave-flash> </embed>


Just Enough To Dream

September 24, 2009

It’s 4:40pm and I’ll be going to Sintra again tonight, not sure which blocs to go to but I’ll be going somewhere.

Two days ago I met up with Rasta at the Mecca and we repeated some of the nice easier blocs there.  I really like the lines that already exist there.  I figured out the correct foot placement and sent Megalito 7b; the first day on it I had gotten stumped on one move which I kept trying the way Macau told me to and my foot kept cutting.  The lesson is to always try to do the bloc the way it feels/looks right for you, then listen to what others say and try their beta, I could have saved a lot of skin!

Then Rasta and I eyed a new bloc which was uncovered due to the epic deforestation that has been going on in the name of fire prevention.

IMG_5090We looked at it and both found some possible lines.  Rasta cleaned up the left side/arete of this bloc and I cleaned the right side of the roof.  With headlamps we both sent Rasta’s line and dubbed it Transilvania 6c; we were hesitating between A Morte do Vampiro (the death of the vampire) or O Crepusculo do Vampiro (the sunset of the vampire) because the if we were to fall and roll off the pad we would be staked to death by the sharp wooden spears caused by the deforestation.  Then we went to look at the other line and had a good laugh.  I titled this post “just enough to dream” because there are just enough hold there to dream of doing this problem.  Good start feet on the back wall, a small yet solid undercling crimp on the roof, a small one/one.5 finger divet for the right hand on the bulge, and just one hold for the right foot.  Just enough holds…  We couldn’t even budge on any of the starting moves but there is something there.  8a? 8a+? 8a++?  Someday this is going to be a solid Sintra 7b+!!!


O Karma da Serra

September 21, 2009

For some reason wordpress was crashing when I tried to post two days ago… I’ve already written and lost this post 3 times because of that! Well, besides pictures, the main news today is that two days ago I felt strong after a two-day rest by the beach and I crushed a classic 7b+ (V8) in Sintra called O Karma da Serra!! It was my third day trying this climb.

On the first day I figured out some beta which seemed to work really well but my fingers weren’t ready for the sharp rock.

The second day my beta simply was not working anymore so I spent most of the time figuring out new beta and ended up using the method everybody else trying it uses; I gave it two or three good burns with that method but my shoe kept pulling off my foot on the second-to-last move which is heavy on the left heel.

This third day I quickly found myself at the same situation, I tried taping the shoe on tighter but it wasn’t working, then I decided to try a different shoe which has a looser heel and, counterintuitively, it worked. The extra give in the heel actually allowed the shoe to adjust to the rock whereas with the other shoes once the heel opened slightly the shoe would come off. So I fell once on the very last bump move off a crimp, got super adrenalized, put on La Roux’s “Going in for the Kill” and sent it! Feeling super pumped I drove over to A Tapada to try Zeitgeist, another 7b+ that was close, but got shut down. It was my 4th day on it and I still haven’t figureda way to do the slap move; my body just swings violently out everytime I try that move… Oh well – projects projects projects!

And here are some photos taken by Macau:


Trying to open a new line.sintra04_set09_17

O Dia da Besta 7bsintra33_set09_02

Grande Canhao? 6c+? (so many names I get confused)sintra33_set09_12

Megalito 7bsintra33_set09_14

O Mito stand 7a+sintra33_set09_16

O Mito


The Mecca and The Myth

September 16, 2009

Macau sent his usual email informing about 10 people that there would be another night-bouldering session last night, other than himself the only fanatics to show up were Isabel Boavida and I.

IMG_4920The meeting place was Lagoa Azul, another gorgeous place in Sintra.

Last night we went to two more new (for me) sectors: A Mecca e o Mito and these were the best thus far.  The boulders were really sweet!  It was like a little Hueco Tanks.  Good texture to the rock, nice lines, tall boulders, good landings…  Sintra has grown!



Macau setting up to try a project in the Mecca sector.


IMG_4951Quality bouldering at The Mecca sector.

The Mito area really has one main bloc, the Mito bloc.  This bloc was discovered over a decade ago by the elite boulderers back then but it was discarded at the time because of its difficulty and then it was lost.  Literally, it was lost for many years, it was found by chance and the rapidly growing foliage in Sintra made it so that it was extremely difficult to find again.  Only two years ago was it rediscovered with the help of GoogleEarth and a lot of persistence.

Two problems are on this bloc: the Mito sit start which weighs in at 8a (V11) and the stand start which is a powerful 7a+ (v5).

IMG_4958O Mito

IMG_4956Macau on the sit start of O Mito

We ended the night session at an early 11:30pm under a perfectly clear and starry sky.  I was definitely feeling much better on the rock and had an excellent session at The Mecca, sending several boulders in the 7a/+ range in a few goes.  My skin, though, is suffering, the fingertips feel pretty beat up so I’m planning on taking a full 2 days rest!!  …  let’s see if I can manage to stay away that long!  Autumn is coming soon and with it the cooler temperatures which will make bouldering that much better, so I will definitely be back to work on O Mito!


The Day of the Beast

September 13, 2009

The fanatism continues, today I met up with Macau, Rita, Bibs, Alex, Rui, Ramel, Marco… (I think I’m missing someone) for another day for energetic bouldering.  Today was Sao Pedro, yet another sector with some very nice boulders.  We warmed up on a nice 5/6a and then worked on a project for a while and ended the day trying a very nice 7b called O Dia da Besta.  I got very close to the send but that is beside the point, I’m starting to feel some semblance of familiarity on the rock again, some better movement, which is really encouraging.  I’m sure the transition from climbing on plastic to climbing on rock will take a few more weeks but it is feeling so good to climb outdoors!!

Macau will be leaving to visit the New England area so I may have to get on rope for a while since the all-night-fanatic-bouldering will not have enough participants… we’ll see!

IMG_4917Photo by Bibs.


Just Some Photos

September 13, 2009

These are photos which Macau took of me about a week ago.


Lagarta Titanica 7a+ or so since a few good climbers have tried it but it has only seen one ascent… by Macau.Sintra31_Ago09_07

Chapavao, 6c or so, I saw the line but Macau papa-FA’s got the ascent.Sintra31_Ago09_08

A hard Macau slab project.Sintra31_Ago09_14Sintra31_Ago09_16

Yes, my foot is cutting, found out I can go static with a heel instead of a tip.


The last move on Zeitgeist, that right hand sucks!!!