- This is only peel!
- What if you go a bit further to the right? Daniela suggested.
- I’ll try!
I cleaned the sand off the hand holds the best I could, and with my feet I gently touched all the little places that I could use, detaching lots of limestone small pieces, the limestone was literally peeling.
Minutes later, I was only one and a half meter further up.
What from the ground looked like reasonable rock, was now “peeling rock”.
- That’s it! I’m going down!
On that day, it was the second frustrated attempt of beginning a new route on “Parede Branca” (“White wall”), a savage wall in Arrábida.
The word “peel” associated to the quality of the rock has its maximum expression here. The “Parede Branca” has a lot of huge roofs; this prevents the rain from washing the rock in a lot of sections. Also the wall’s orientation, facing south, protects this cliff from the dominant winds. Finally the chemical constitution of this limestone has a particular effect on its erosion. All together in one word, the “Parede Branca”…peels!
The hauling sling... and the peel!
Still with some hours of light we decided to go for a third attempt. At that moment we were already using our stubbornness.
That was not so bad, after a while we managed to solve a decent climbing pitch, Still, the end of the day determined that our adventure would have to wait…for another day!
“Parede Branca” 1, Daniela and Paulo 0!
Our small victory. On the way in the first pitch... decent!
Months went by.
In the meantime, the first line was climbed on the wall, “Cascawall” (“PeelingWall”).
Deep down in our memories remained that incomplete line.
A few days before Christmas we decided to face that problem, and once again we went for the infamous “peeling rock”
Second attempt. "That way!"
"Here goes another sttoper!"
Daniela starting the first pitch.
Once again we faced our demons, and once again this was not the day.
On the first pitch.
Nervous traverse to reach the first belay.
Starting the second pitch. Emotions guaranteed.
Small happenings, meaningless when isolated, decided to act all together: a short winter day, delays to access the wall and...as an apotheotic culmination, an acute colic in the gut that forced me to "give a smelly environment" to the second belay ... an incident witnessed firsthand by Daniela, who was crying in laughter, the farthest that the ropes permitted.
Fortunately, the small habits of married life have served to mitigate the magnificent shame that, in other circumstances, would have triggered a sudden desire to throw myself of the cliff.
2 moments in the second pitch.
It wouldn’t have been so ridiculous if it wasn’t the fact that it was a kind of “déjà-vu” of what previously happened when I opened the first line of the wall. “Simple coincidence or bad energies of that place?”. This was the last thought that crossed my mind while on the aerial rappel that concluded the adventure on that day.
“Parede Branca” 2, Daniela and Paulo 0!
This was one of the few climbs that Daniela did as a favor to me. And “favor” is the right word, once in her head the reset was done concerning the “Parede Branca”…the wall of “peel”!
-OK, we’ll go there, but this is the last time my feet will touch that wall!
I had to recognize that it was a reasonable attitude!
Our third attempt had to be the one. In case of failure, as of me, a faithful disciple of inutility, I would for sure return another day, but with another climber…or simply alone.
Light, sea and stones!
And so our climb again begun.
The first steps of the new pitch, the third of the route were conquered with the help of the aid. The almost non-existent structure of the roof didn’t allow any attempt of a free climb.
Cheating by using the power drill, four bolts were placed before my climbing shoes started to do what they were design for.
Impossible to protect any other way.
Only after reaching the belay of this new pitch, the climbing started rolling in a more “normal” way.
The hours were also rolling! To finish this route was now a statement of honor.
Starting the third pitch, easier and faster.
At the end of the third pitch, after an interesting climb.
Daniela on the third pitch.
I started the last pitch with a familiar feeling of being in a climb of difficult mental resolution.
Paulo beginning the last pitch, a section that doesn’t look that good!!!
And “voilá”! Surprise, the pitch was much more solid than what the eyes would show. The rock was much more compact and the protections much more trustable than what I imagined.
The pitch was much better than expected.
Finishing the adventure..
The last step!
A golden horizon above the sea was the prize for such determination, the determination to finish this story, too long for the conquered meters.
We packed our gear in a hurry to arrive at the car without using our headlamps.
Last sun rays.
And so it ended another small epic lived in one of the most vertiginous cliffs of Arrábida!
For its particular characteristics, the “Parede Branca” is far from the generally accepted concepts of what climbing is.
Considering this, our common sense invites us to interrupt for a while our adventures on that particular wall. However, words like "rules" or "common sense" are part of rigid pre-determined contexts that are the antithesis of all real climbing philosophy. So ...
FUCK THE RULES! NEW ADVENTURES WILL COME!!!
We named the route “Rocha Podre e Pedra Dura” (“ Rotten Rock and hard stine”), the original name of our blog (www.rppd.blogspot.com), and the name fits…PERFECT!
Be aware, the grade on this route is just a number, for this is not a climb…it’s an adventure!
The photos of the topos were gently given by our friend João Gaspar