Rio mayhem

Before flying off to Rio, we had a brief look a the map to see where it was in lattitude relating to Santiago.  Did you know it is quite a lot further north?  It´s 30 degrees in Santiago.  It´s also 30 degrees in Rio. We didn´t have the ambient humidity comparisons – but we were expecting to be hit by a wall of heat when stepping  off the plane and were not disappointed.  It wasn´t quite as bad as anticipated actually, but we were very grateful that the bus from the airport had aircon!  The bus was an experience in itself – we had to run to catch it as it was just about to depart and had no time to stow our bags.  It turned out this wasn´t unusual – health and safety in the UK would be having fifty fits!  There were about two or three other bags in the aisle as it was pretty full, but no one seemed particularly bothered.

We had been extremely lucky in having the lovely Rachel Le Feuve as our lady in Rio, who had an equally lovely friend who was exiting the city for the duration of the carnival and was happy to let us take up residence.  We had definitely not been expecting to stay in a fully equipped apartment in Ipanema for the festival, our budget would not have stretched to that!  We were joined by Emily, a friend of Rachel´s from New York so the four of us did really well.

What can be said about Rio Carnival? It’s an awesome street party where the whole city goes wild for five days. It’s actually hundreds of individual street parties ‘Bloccos’ that take place in neighbourhoods accross the city. They range in size from a few thousand people to the biggest which are 100,000 to 150,000 people. So theres only one way to go at carnival and that’s large…..

The alter ego make his first appearence!
The alter ego make his first appearence!

How to describe Brazillians at Carnival?  Um, quite … forward.  On our first day, we passed someone handing out strips of condoms and thought it was just advertising for Durex, but it is more likely that it is in the hopes that they get used.  Throughout the festival, all of us were approached repeatedly by complete strangers wanting to play tonsil hockey.  The self-titled “best kisser in Brazil” was  ery persistant in offering his services to Rachel, and only ran away when Tom jumped on him and asked for a sample – he was dressed as his alter-ego though…

Rio is a beautiful city surrounded by mountains, beaches and lagoons,   so obviously we had to take advantage of that and made an attempt at the Two Italians route (a six pitch 5.10b) on Sugarloaf Mountain one morning.  Because we needed to climb in the shade, it meant a 4am start to make it to the base of the crag by 6am (declining the taxi driver’s offer of a flat rate fare) which we pretty much managed. The walk to the bottom of the route was pretty sweaty despite the early hour, but at least it wairly straight forward. This was our first sample of Brazillian ‘bolted’ climbing. I had had a look at an other crag a few days before to find what looked like widely spaced pegs hammered into drilled holes .  Two Italians on Sugarloaf was no different, the first bolt was well out of reach of even a clip stick  but the climbing was not that bad. The bolts,  known as P bolts,  are hammered into drilled holes packed with a few strips of metal. They seeemed secure enough, but I wasn’t keen to test them. The route was really technical climbing on granite so was a bit of a wake up call given neither of us had been climbing for six weeks. Going was a bit slow and the topo was not very good so we failed to complete the six pitches befor ethe sun started to make it round on to the cliff. We retreated from the top of pitch 3 to avoid being fried in 36 Deg. C heat. The views from sugar loaf were fantastic across the bay and over to Christo on Corcovado –  another climbing objective.
Climbing on Sugarloaf in Rio
Climbing on Sugarloaf in Rio



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