Stupendous Seaside Splitters
The rock climbing in Portugal is best known for its excellent limestone cliffs next to the ocean, providing hard, overhanging sport routes; or its endless boulder problems spread throughout the Sintra Hills, Serra da Estrela and in the Northwest Mountains. However, there are also possibilities for traditional climbing in Portugal, either on the granite of its highest peaks or the granite and limestone next to the ocean. But a crack area where you are forced to jam your hands and feet was still missing.
And now, near to Lisbon, south of the surfing mecca, Ericeira, an outstandingly gorgeous cliff of black basalt with perfect splitter cracks has recently been discovered. The place might remind you of UK's Peak District or Paradise Forks near Flagstaff, Arizona, with exuberant evergreen shrubs and gray to black rock.
On December 12th and 13th, 2009, a climbing event took place at this new crack climbing area called “Pianos Rachados” (translated to “Cracked Pianos”). The aim was to let climbers know about this new crack area, nicely defined as a “Little Indian Creek” with the Atlantic see below. The SEA (translated to “anonimous bolters society”) had a lot of work in order to clean up the cracks and to draw a topo with all the climbing possibilities. Fernando, Nuno, Rosado e Filipe were among the the most active developers putting up the first ascents, but they still left a few lines to be open by the more adventurous climbers.
Novice crack climbers now have a place to experience both thin and wide cracks. Lessons on how to tape your hands were given and several lines were put up by more experienced traditional climbers for everyone to learn on. It was incredible to see stronger climbers fighting in offwidth cracks and getting all confused while choosing the best cam placement. Here the crack climbing technique is so important that even motivated beginners could perform as well as strong climbers. Everybody seemed just as happy to scramble in the cracks and reach the top of the cliff.
One talented Portuguese climber, André Neres, who had just climbed his first 8c+ (5.14c) sport route, had to spend three tries in order to redpoint a 6b (5.10+) crack. It proved that the skills to climb up these cracks are way different than pulling hard on crimpers and sloppers. The Belgian climber Nicolas Favresse, who attended the meeting, enjoyed the fanatic climbing in Casal Pianos and put up a few first ascents of his own.
At the end of the historic weekend the best female crack climber, Dulce, and male Zé Pistols, who both climbed an awkard off-width named O Monstro (translated to “The Monster”), were awarded prizes by Ortik and Petzl. The prize for the highest fall was awarded to Nuno Pinheiro who hit the ground while trying a first ascent.
This event was proudly supported by Petzl.