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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:

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