Wednesday, 20 April 2011

O Morro do Cuscuzeiro

The Morro do Cuscuzeiro is a prominent sandstone tower standing alone in a landscaope of farmland interspersed with patches of remaining rainforest. Along a bright-orange muddy track we found a really nice campsite but with, as usual, too many mosquitos. It was teeming down when we arrived, a real tropical downpour with a dramatic lightening show and thunder roiling through the cloud-laden skies.  Fantastic, if a little inconvenient for pitching one's tent.

Come the morning the rain was still with us, but thankfully not as heavy as the evening before. We determined that we should at least investigate the Morro; the rain was persistent but four of us (me, Nick, Didier and Rich) kept the weather faith and so managed the excellent leaning but juggy Manga com Leite at F6a, and, when the sun returned, a three pitch route to the top of the Morro the main pitch being the fantastic and well-named 'Let's go space trucking', F5+/6a.  This turned out to be one of the best sports climbs I have ever done anywhere; clearly not for its difficulty but for the excellent and varied moves that included a small overhang, slab, steep wall on crimps, worrying moves left to airy moves up the left arete to arrive at an eyrie stance where the passing vultures kept their hopeful eyes on us. We enjoyed the vista from the plateau at the top, somewhere that reminded me of the 'Land that Time Forgot' that features so frequently in the old 1930s Tarzan films with Johnny Weismuller. There was a small iron spike that had a label reading "Not suitable for abseiling. Do not use. Danger." So - what else? - we abseiled from it back to the rucksacks.

On the second day we tried to find other routes from the Plato do Bundão but as we didn't really know how to get to it we gave up and so went back to the previous area. I was climbing with Didier again and we enjoyed Mosquitos Go Home (F5+), and then its variation (F6a+, to all accounts but probably easier). Then it all became too hot so we hid in the shade and watched many attempts at Sunday Bloody Sunday, Br 7b (F6c+). Nobody managed a clean ascent so I determined to do it the next day.

So, Gareth and I were there at the foot of Sunday Bloody Sunday at about half nine ,having hoped to climb in the cool of the morning. Some hope - it was already boiling.  I found the moves reminiscent of those on a good climbing wall and so they weren't really all that difficult and (a little mischieviously) I wondered what all the fuss had been about the previous day.  I have to admit I did come off on my first attempt but only because I had listened to all the complaining about a long reach and so was suckered into a wrong move thinking it must be that long reach. It wasn't and when I found the right way it proved to be easy.  My second attempt was the first clean ascent of the route among the HotRockers, and I judged the climb to be no harder than F6b.  Martin and Nick also managed the route later. Later in the evening I enjoyed the company and conversation of Beto (Bruno, a local climber) who was climbing with us and who was proving to be an invaluable source of local knowledge, and an interesting and nice chap to boot.

On our last day here, guided by Beto we looked at another local crag, set nicely in a wooded valley with a waterfall and abounding with butterflies and bright emerald-green humming birds flitting and hovering among the leaves, seeking the delicate thin red trumpet flowers to feed at.  A construction of wooden walkways along the base of the crag allowed easy access to the three sectors that offered a series of short sharp routes. After some initial hesitation Gareth and I decided on a steep bouldery route at F6c, very short but quite pumpy for the weak. Annoyingly I again took two goes but only because I failed to find the two-finger side pull first time. Not really not much harder than F6a+ or maybe F6b.  Gareth also managed the route on his second attempt, and then lots of thrashing about from others followed.  After a spot of lunch an easier (about F4+) with Didier, and finally a really nice F6b up a groove, very varied.  Having watched Aussie Chris first I was a bit psyched out at the outset as he made a bit of a hash of things, and so I was expecting difficulties. It thankfully turned out to be easy - no harder than F6a - and very enjoyable.

This was one of the best venues so far and it would have been great to have stayed a few nore days, but the schedule demanded otherwise so we headed off at 06:00 the next morning for the Serra do Cipo, allegedly a world-class limestone sports venue.


  1. What an amazing looking place - did any of you end up sculpting it from mashed potato?

  2. It was indeed amazing, with really high quality routes. Only problems were the heat and the possibility of snakes. The US$1.00 per person per day rather precludes artistic potato-based endeavour, otherwise I'd have been very tempted...