Archive for March, 2010


VENGA! – Fanatismo Espanhol en Sintra!

March 31, 2010

These past few days have been FANATIC!

Pena on another failed attempt at Voando Sobre Um Ninho de Cucus

Toni Lamprecht has come to test the Sintra granite but in addition to that beast over 20 Spaniards have invaded us too!!  Amongst those there are some very strong, >8a climbers.  To mention a few: Nano and Israel Olcina (one of the strong Olcina brothers).

The small crew of Sintra boulderers have been really excited to show these fellow climbers some of the classic lines, see if they could send some of our projects, and see if they would open up some new lines.

After approximately one week the toll is Sintra 1 – Spaniards 0.

Not really.  What we have found is that the hard boulders in Sintra are hard (we half-expected strong foreign climbers to crush and downgrade), the projects are solid (none gone and few even attempted cause they are imposing lines), Portuguese climbers have balls (the heady highball lines are not appealing to the foreigners, thus far).

Today we had a good session at the Meca and Mito areas.  With the headlines being Pena bagging the FA of a very pretty line: Loira Insubmissa (approximately 7b… technical).

Pena on Loira Insubmissa (FA)

For myself I’ve had two very good days, coming very close to repeating some of the hard lines I’ve done in the past months and then today I was exchanging attempts with Israel on the 7c version of Mito and did all the hard moves only to fall on the very last cross, a mistake that doesn’t bother me too much since I got further than he did and I had thought it would be a longer-term project!Israel on O Mito

More fanatic days to come… tomorrow actually!!!  A Muerte!!


Ciao Sintra!

March 22, 2010

Yesterday we had an Italian treat with the visit of Roberto Armando and his wife from Italy!

Roberto is in charge of perhaps the most visited Italian bouldering site: InfoBoulder, a very nice and complete site with links to topos, training, news, videos and photos…  Check out their site.

The weather wasn’t fully cooperating in that the humidity was high and it was a bit warm.  With such weather we went to the Malveira sector Vivendas.  One of the sectors I’m least familiar with and whose best known climb is Visão Distorcida.

Visão Distorcida (“Distorted Vision”) started off as a 7b+ (V8) in 2002 and is now considered (by most) a soft 7b (V7).  The climb makes its way out of a horizontal roof, with only one small hold in the middle of the roof itself and a nice sloping pinch on the roof’s edge.  The crux is setting up on those two holds and lunging for the nice pocket on the lip.  Roof climbing is definitely not my style so I was very apprehensive about trying it but since it was The classic line (and we weren’t trying anything else there) I slowly worked the moves until I found foot placement that worked for me and I managed to do the climb.  Turns out it climbs really well!  A reminder for me to try new things.

Teresa Sousa and Gonçalo arrived just before I sent so here are two nice pictures taken by Teresa of me on the send:

Photos by Teresa Sousa

After that the group split up into two.  Pena and I went to brush, clean, and try a project of his while the others showed the Italian friends some more of the established climbs in a nearby sector.  Pena and I were shortly-thereafter joined by Macau and his tendinites and by Flash.

I tried the line a few times but my left hand was sore for some reason and I didn’t want to push it on my returning to bouldering, trying to avoid injuries.  So I took some pictures of Pena and Macau both giving it really good goes and making progress.

Pena cleaning on toprope

This looks to become a very good line.  The line starts by following an evident crack which starts off wide and quickly thins until it disappears 3/4 of the way up the wall.  The first crux is managing some purchase off the last few holds in the crack in order to reach the blunt arete.

Macau on the start

Working his way up the crack

Starting to reach for the arete

Macau establishing the highpoint, but falling at this point.

The second crux will be getting high enough using the arete and the remnants of the crack to launch to a small but positive crimp (said crimp can be seen chalked in the next pictures).  It will be a full body-length deadpoint.

Pena trying hard…

… and getting far…

but falling on his rear.  Thankfully Macau was spotting…….

Many new lines still being discovered in Sintra!  Seems like a group of strong (8b/V13+) Spanish climbers may be visiting next week (or is it this week) so we’ll see if they get to repeat or establish some classics (or get their asses kicked by Portuguese granite).

And after that nice session yesterday, today I returned to the mountain.  It was a calm solo trip with one pad and a drum and I had an excellent time reacquainting myself with the moves of The Myth boulder and also of a nearby project which is very much occupying my mind these days… such a perfect line!  More on that in posts to come.


Gripless and Big Baldo

March 14, 2010

Sintra really has some gorgeous lines.  I think that’s the best way to start this post.

Quite a few of these gems are found in one of the oldest sectors (possibly the oldest if Capuchos was not developed first) called Peninha.  Peninha is located at the last surge of the mountain before it dips down to meet the ocean where it forms the westernmost point of continental Europe.  It is a magical place.  Sintra is already a magical place and Peninha is one of the magical places inside that magical place… you get what I’m getting at.

Peninha is home to the first 7c (V9) in the country, Kalashnikov, and its gorgeous grey granite forms other classics such as O Karma da Serra and Massa Expansiva.  “Gripless” is another one of those classics.  This climb hugs a beautiful and tall prow, a very evident whose first ascent was obtained by Ben Moon himself somewhere around 2004 or so when he and Jerry stopped by on a short visit.  Since then it has several attempts but only 3 ascents (that I’m aware of, correct me if I’m wrong, o Cuca ja o fez?): first by Ricardo (Macau) Alves, then Leopoldo Faria and Ricardo Belchior.

Pena on Gripless Photo by Macau.

Gonçalo on Gripless, Photo by Teresa Sousa

I found that this climb suited me very well, it was just slightly overhanging and involved compression moves; however, it took me like 15 tries just to get the right toe hook to stay.  Pulling on, swinging and falling…  Just when I was starting to get frustrated I managed to figure out the right body positioning and the rest of the problem flowed well in a couple of tries.

Above on the first move.

Below on the following sequence, excellent photography by Macau.

Photo below my Teresa Sousa

And the video by Miguel Tobias:

Definitely one of my proudest sends.  For me, the quality of this climb is very high: perfect rock, perfect features, perfect setting and I’m really happy to have it piece together so well.

I don’t want to shun away from the grades.  Those who sent this line before me feel that 7b+ (V8) is right; Gonçalo, who was trying the line with me and getting agonizingly close feels (as he is well known for) that it would be 7a+ (tops).  When everything pieced together it felt easy, flowing, the way I’d like all climbs to feel.  I hesitated to accept 7b+, then I lowered it to 7b resisting Goncalo’s suggestions of going even lower, and now, after talking with Ricardo Belchior, and considering that good climbers like Pena have given it solid burns, I’m staying with the consensus 7b+ (possibly on the low end).

After Gripless, and feeling very satiatied, I picked up Macau’s camera, equipped with his telescopic lens, and shot some images of him doing another slab FA called Big Baldo:

I have no idea what he was standing on… impressive send as always from M.

To finish off the excellent day we spotted Francisco Ataíde on the FA of a short crack climb.

Photo by Macau:


Climbing, Escalada

March 8, 2010

Above: Macau and Rita climbing in Sintra, on one of the very first boulders established here.

Wow, well after approximately 2 months without climbing, 2 months of rain and traveling, I am back in Sintra, Portugal.  The gods are still showering rain upon us mortals but every now and then they cooperate and allow us to climb.

I went yesterday for my first touch back on the rock.  The chosen area was Capuchos (in Sintra of course), the first sector to be developed.  Though it was first explored approximately a decade ago, new lines are still being opened.  Macau developed some serious tennis elbow but instead of not climbing he has shifted his attention to slab problems which are less strenuous on those joints; since then he has been getting the first ascent on a few slabs climbs and yesterday he got the probable FA on the back of one of the most climbed boulder in Sintra.

My goal was to reintroduce my skin to climbing and to the Sintra granite; large layers of skin peeled off nearly every single time I held onto the rock, no flappers, just the removal of the useless.  Shedding away all the baby skin will reveal the leather and I’ll be back to speed in no time.

On other news here is a video of the crack climbing scene in Portugal just 5 minutes from my place (Sintra is the place to be).  It is all in Portuguese so time to go sign up for those Portuguese classes you have been putting off!

Also, an online climbing site and magazine have started up!!  Vertigem, this will be the place to go to stay in touch with the happenings of the Portuguese climbing world!  Vertigem is the website and it will also host an online magazine, the first edition of which is to come out in April.  Stay Tuned, I bet it will be very good!

I forgot to include this video in the original post but it was my mistake… big mistake.  Portuguese climbers go to Albarracin and whatever climbing ticklist they accomplish is insignificant compared to the advances in trance-videos they achieved with THIS: