Jamming In Portugal

December 6, 2009

Today it is raining!  Yesterday a code yellow was announced for all of Portugal, yellow not because of some pending “terrorist” atack but yellow because of weather-related problems.  However, we decided to risk it and go to the coast, 10 minutes away from my place in Sintra.  Yesterday’s objective was to go play on cracks!

All pictures are enlargable by clicking on them, enjoy.

The approach to the crag, it’s always good to join rock climbing with oceanic environment:

Still the approach, the crag starts to be visible:

And here we are, the first sector, the warm-up area harboring some nice, short, easy lines:

And here is Nico Favresse showing us the crack climbing prowess that led him to the 3rd ascent of cobra crack… not exactly cobra crack is it Nico?!  Hey, where is your rope?:

That was the warm-up area, then on the backside of that basaltic outcropping lies the second sector, taller lines, some with a slight overhang, very nice splitters (I never made it to the other sectors which house more and even taller lines).

As seen from the ocean, amongst the caos of fallen rocks:

This caos of rock can only mean that some of the rock is unstable… this crag had to be cleaned by the hard work of Nuno Pinheiro and others so that big blocks would not take out the whole climbing community in Portugal.  One such bloc was removed the day I was there and I documented part of its relocation in the following video.  The bloc had already been removed by the guiding touch of Nuno’s hammer but was still unstable so Leo levers it to safety:

The crag as seen from the side:

The Portuguese conquerers again at the edge of the ocean, conquering the land instead of the ocean:More jamming, Nico on the left, Mario and Texas in the middle, Leo and Filipe on the end:

Nico on the FA of this aesthetic, slightly offwidth, dihedral crack:

One of the more seasoned Portuguese sport-climbers, Filipe Costa e Silva trying his hand at jamming:

Three shots of Nico onsighting the hardest line of this small sector, a 7a+ (5.12b) finger crack:

I too tried this line, my last climb of the day and I have to say it felt much harder than any of the hardest sport climbs I have ever tried… I tried it on top-rope and I think I did one move, all the others were with the assist of the rope.  In terms of crack climbing technique I am at about the V grade, I managed to get myself up some 6’s but with the ugliest, least-effective technique you could imagine… obviously I ended up using excessive strength and jamming parts of my body that didn’t need to be jammed.  Despite the caloric expenditure, however, this reminded me of why I enjoy crack climbing: because one ends up using so much more of the body than one a face-climb.  It is so much more a full-body experience (not to mention a mental experience as leading crack climbs requires much more awareness) than face-climbing.

Well, it isn’t exactly Indian Creek but we have cracks in Portugal!  Another reason to put Portugal on your list of climbing destinations.

To end this post here are some pictures of the coastline surrounding the climbing area:

The climbing crag is that outcropping at the end on the left:

On much of the water’s edge there has formed these hills of coral(?) which often house water pools:

Sometimes the edge of the pools are pink with new coral:

And you can see how deep this new layer is looking at it from the side:

More frequently the valleys formed by the coral hills are filled with rocks which have been trapped there and rounded by the tides:

I particularly liked the configuration of these rocks:

p.s. Portugal is in the World Cup 2010!!!  Yeah!!!  But wait, what does this have to do with climbing??  World Cup 2010 is in South Africa, world-renown bouldering mecca!!!!  hummmmm…………….


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