Monday, 28 September 2009
Climbing K2 (Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer)
6am start yesterday and the four of us headed out once again to the Corcovado mountain, home to the Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks the huge city of Rio. The previous day Tom and Reynolds climbed the 150m Brasilian IVsup (approx F5/F5+) route to the summit but unfortunately there was not enough time for Fab and I to climb it as well.
Fab is a novice climber (more novice than me) so we were not in a position to swing leads for the four pitches to the top. This means that I led to whole climb myself which, while very cool, was extremely hard work. We could also have done with more water as I was really dehydrated for a large part of the climb and for a long time afterwards.
One section of the climb, the beginning of the third pitch, it is recommended to use a stopper or two. As we hunted around Rio to buy these, as well as the nut removal tool, we went ahead and placed this protection, but the short IV section it protected turned out to be relatively easy... the rest of that pitch was a grade II which I steamed right up and even managed to get one clip in on the next pitch (grade IV) before realising I'd climbed past the anchor.
Considering Fab had a) never climbed outdoors before; and b) not climbed in many years he did an amazing job on all the pitches, struggling most with the first pitch which was in direct sunlight and also the hardest grade.
The climb didn't go totally according to plan... the middle quickdraw of a 12m-odd traverse came out before Fab had climbed across. This would mean that had Fab fallen he'd have swung out a really long way, through a nasty-looking cactus and potentially over an overhang which would have made things very tough. With Fab anchored in I rapelled down from my anchor and walked along to the middle bolt, reclipped the quickdraw, and headed back up to the anchor. It's a good job I had some traverse practise from the previous climb or things could have gone differently...
The K2 route is totally different from Italianos on the Sugar Loaf... generally less slabby, plenty of crack climbing, some easier sections, more interesting moves and quite a few mantels (at least for me). Overall an easier climb that "felt" a lot better protected although in reality the bolts were spaced further apart. The ledges by anchors were a big relief for the feet, unlike Sugar Loaf which just ate feet for breakfast while belaying a second.
We stayed for the sunset which was truly spectacular over a mountain full of radio transmitters... hopefully some nice silhouette photos from that. The Christ statue himself is awe inspiring... Rio is truly a whole city under God.
Our return to the hostel was very dodgy... we were expecting to grab a taxi back but with it being so late there were none to be had. We waited around for what must have been 45m before we eventually arranged a lift in some dodgy car for all the money we had on us (R$37)... scary stuff as you do hear stories of people taking third-party taxis and getting driven straight into a favela for robbery. In the end we had no choice as walking down would have been feasible but would have meant passing incredibly close to the Santa Marta favela that is built on the Corcovado mountain.