Trad First Ascents - Brasil
My trip to Brasil in 2000 with Seb Grieve, Mike Robertson and Rick Smee was the first of a series to explore destinations which had relatively little climbing development at the time. We set out to Rio with the intention of having an adventure, regardless of whether or not we found any decent cliffs, but sure enough, on arrival we encountered an array of granite domes, which were ideal for easy sport climbing. However, the biggest challenge was not getting too distracted by the nightlife in the party capital of the world. In the end it was thanks to the gentle persuasion from our host and loca trad aficionado, Ralf Cortes, that we ended up tearing ourselves away from Rio and exploring the trad potential of some of the outlying areas.
Itachaia National Park
Our first stop was a beautiful unspoilt region, which lies just outside Rio. Itachaia National Park is littered with granite outcrops and escarpments, very few of which had been climbed on at the time of our trip. We pitched camp and set about exploring some of the best looking crags on foot. One which stood out was dubbed 'Crag Zero' by our team. This appeared to have potential for some bold, intricate slab climbing, with faint runnels, grooves and scoops running down it's smooth, slabby face. Seb Grieve set to work on the left hand of the two big lines on the main part of the face and I abseiled down the faint scoop-line on the right. We were immediately seduced by the quality of the climbing, and the only snag would be the blatant lack of protection. After a sleepless night, we both arrived at the crag the next morning, jabbering with nerves and decided to go for the lead. Seb named his route Fuzzy Logic E7 6b, (as a tribute to the bizarre reverse-psychology that is used to justify bold climbing) and my route was christened Boiling Point E8 6b.
Boiling Point E8 6b 'Crag Zero', Itachaia National Park, Brasil, 2000
Boiling Point climbs a faint scoop-line up the 45m-high slabby main face of Crag Zero. The route is virtually unprotected and it saves the crux moves until the very end. It had a similar feel to Indian Face, although the climbing was a fraction easier. This was the first time I had tried to lead a route of this nature outside the UK and the remote location certainly added to the sense of commitment.
Kryptonite E7 6b Itaquatiara, Rio, Brasil, 2000
Halfway through the trip, our host, Ralf Cortes took us across the bay from Rio to Itaquatiara to visit one of his favourite crags. He pointed out a route that he’d put up on the seaward side of the main canyon, which followed a crack to a tenuous crux on the blank upper slab. Ralf had placed a bolt to protect the crux, but he was keen for me to chop it and attempt the route without it. With some trepidation, I managed to oblige and the result was a pure trad version of Ralf’s original line.