Thursday, May 26, 2011

Climbing at 4000 meters

A few photos of bouldering and climbing at 4000 meters in Argentina. See the link below for all photos.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Living expanses

When the truck arrived in Rio, Martin, Steve, Didier and I met to check in at the ambitiously named Best Rio Hostel. We had booked ourselves our own 4 bed room instead of booking beds in the standard 8-12 bed dorms. It was a few days of moderate extravagance we figured we'd earned after living cheek-by-jowl with 22 other climbers for several months.

We were directed to our room at the dead-end of a dog-leg corridor that was completely effective at excluding all natural light and air. Our windowless room was small, gushingly blue,...and small. It had the size and general ambience of a kid's cubby house, with a pair of low-set bunk beds that you could span between with your outstetched arms, a pitched white-washed ceiling, and a couple of "lockers" that seemed to be fashioned from slats of balsa wood with bent hinges, gaping holes and nairy a right-angle in sight. The only thing missing was a clubhouse flag and a "no gurls allowed" sign.

But not everything was small. What wasn't small was the industrial-sized, black, boxed fan that necessarily filled the doorway with its whirring presence whenever the room was occupied, in a brave and barely successful attempt to prevent actual asphyxiation in the steamy Rio heat. This desperate attempt at aeration meant that we couldn't close the door when we were in the room. So when we were all tucked up in our cubby hole, slumbering peacefully, we'd be startled awake by sudden floods of lights as the nameless, faceless, shameless bastards who shared our hostel but not our bedtime switched on lights to get to their windowless, airless rooms or to the communal bathrooms.

Ah, the bathrooms. Two toilet cubicles, one with a shower added, evidently as an afterthought. You step out of the shower onto the invariably sodden floor to gather your towel from the same sodden floor after having attempted to hang it on one of two short, slippery hooks next to the door - the uncloseable, concertina-style door, the flimsiest, yet noisiest door available, and situated directly at right angles to our own, perpetually open bedroom door. Ahhh, the serenity....

The kitchen would have been completely serviceable, if not particularly easy to locate, had it contained any useable utensil, bowl or drinking receptacle.

There is no paragraph to describe the common room. There wasn't one.

So it was with heavy hearts and fond memories that we checked out of Best Rio Hostel after our 5 night prepaid stay to move into CabanaCopa Hostel, a hostel with hooks in the bathrooms, lockable lockers, noiseless closing doors, windows and a ceiling fan...well, sure...but where do I hoist my flag??

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cipo Slab Party Video and Sister Act

The super slippery slab

We arrived around 11PM after a 17 hour drive day at the huge empty campground, deserted except for a single tent . We quickly shifted camp the next morning to a shaded corner out of the hot Brazilian sun which beat down on us unrelentingly. Little did we know that the approaching holid ay weekend would turn our lonely campground into a packed jungle of noisy locals with their huge car sound systems blaring at 3 in the morning.

Bob on  the impossible slab route.

Cipo is a collection of small limestone crags scattered around a tourist town in the thick Brazilian rainforest. It’s hot and sweaty work to find the crags, but the climbing is well worth the effort, with well-bolted sports routes of excellent quality and variety from technical slabs to steep juggy overhanging walls.

Damian runs up the slab

The nearest crag to the campground was once a quarry where the local rock was turned into buildings, fountains or bathroom fittings. One particular slab had been cut slippery smooth with what looked like a huge bandsaw. A 6mm thick cable had been used to cut a sloping slab 30 metres high. This wall was almost featureless and, with a covering of dry dusty moss, was impossible to stand on.

Bob, Naomi, Ken, Damian and I spent the day playing around on the slab, trying to make any progress up the harder routes. We managed to climb the easiest route by aiding off two nut keys - placing the first 5mm of the hooked tip into a shallow hole and then standing on slings attached to the keys. I only managed to climb the easiest climb by using my cowboy skills to lasso the bolts with slings to protect some tricky moves. The most difficult climb proved impossible to us all. Bob and Damian managed the best progress by simply taking a long run up and then sprinting up the wall.

Much fun was had on this wall where most of the rock has ended up in the swish bathrooms of well-appointed apartments in Rio, 400km to the south.

Sister Act
Meanwhile, 400 km south, in a well-appointed apartment with a swish bathroom in Rio, I was on a 10 day beachy holiday with my sister, Katrina, having left the truck to meet up with her.

Ipanema Beach, Rio
While Martin was playing on the rocks, I was rocking on la playa. Trine and I spent hours alternating between bobbing about in the warm water, and sitting on Ipanema Beach while vendors walked past selling everything under the sun. Literally under the sun. We had perfect sunny beachy weather.

CocoCabana Beach, Rio

We did the obligatory tourist things - cable car to Sugarloaf for stunning views of Rio by day, staying to see the sun set and the lights twinkle on at night; cog train up through lush rainforest to see the Cristo Redentor and get a 360 degree, messiah's-eye view of Rio; single car tram up the steep winding cobbled streets of Santa Theresa with locals hanging off the caboose. But every morning started with a swim at the beach, and many nights ended with a stroll along the beachside paths along Ipanema and Copacabana Beach, stopping at one of the kiosks to sip a caipirinha and enjoy the balmy summery evenings by the beach. It was perfect.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sao Luiz do Puruna, Brazil

Camping under a statue of Cristo should have given us protection. But the locals with their high power sound system and terrible Brazilan techno music drove us away after a few 3am nights. We moved 2km down the road and camped in a farmer's field full of pecking chickens and playful puppies. We could still just hear their music from the farmer's field, but not loud enough to keep us awake.

We had 5 big drive days to cover the huge distances from central Argentinea to Brazil. The country side gradually got wetter from the dry Argentinian plains into rich tropical forests of Brazil. The weather turned from cool dry to hot and sweaty. This also meant the arrival of mosquites, which had been blissfully absent until now.

The local climbing was a bit more friendly, with good sandstone sports climbing across all the grades from easy to impossible. I found the rock quite farmiliar to the local Sydney sandstone while other hot rockers found it challenging. Being a small compact sports crag, it was very social climbing as everyone was climbing together, each trying harder routes and all giving vocal support to push the grades.

See all the action in the following video.


Marese & Martin

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Iguazu Falls

Discovered by the Spanish explorer Alvar Nunes Cabeza de Vaca, in the year 1542. Iguazu falls contains 275 seperate falls with a height of 65 meters and median flow of 1,500 cubic meters per second. These are the widest falls in the world with a total width of 2700 meters.

See what fun we get up to at the falls in the video below.

Martin & Marese.

More Photos with this link

Monday, May 2, 2011

La Ola, Argentina Video

Sports climbing at La Ola, Argentina
We camped  in a farmers field which was surrounted by small sports climbing crags. The farmer cooked us fresh bread in his wood fire oven and we lapped up the excellent sport climbing.

Baking Fresh bread
See all the action in this video.


Martin & Marese