Climbing in Serra do Cipo and Rio

Trip Start Mar 21, 2012
Trip End Mar 25, 2013

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Where I stayed
Espaco Mandalla

Flag of Brazil  , State of Minas Gerais,
Friday, May 11, 2012

Well, the final chapter of our Adventures in Brazil have come to and
end. We are sad to leave it all behind, but are excited for the new
adventures and volunteering that await us in breathtaking landscape
outside Huaraz, Peru!

Here's a little about what we've been up to in our final weeks.

Climbing in Serra do Cipo.
Parque Nacional de Serra do Cipo, range of the vine, is an extremely bio-diverse plateau, covered in vines and numerous waterfalls. This area is the headwaters for the famous Foz do Iguacu. There is so much to do and so much to see in Cipo, but
really, we came here for the climbing. For those readers who are not
climbing fanatics, we have begun this entry with some photos of rest day
activities to waterfalls (cashuaras) and the state park.




Cashuara Grande and biking in Parque Nacional Serra do Cipo


Amazing rock and vine in the G3 climbing area of Cipo

Cipo is arguably Brazil's most famous sport climbing destination. The
climbing in Cipo proper is divided into groups, of which there are
three, and then further into sectors. There is an affordable guidebook,
which does a far better job of breaking it down then we can, so we'll
leave the technicalities of orientation to the book. However, everyone
climbs primarily in G3 and a few routes in G1. New routes are going up
all the time on the solid limestone labyrinth of G3!

Milkio trying to red point a Brazilian 8c (5.12c) in G1. Parts of G1 might actually be marble.

The land that connects our climbing playground in G3 is a shady mix of
tree and vine, dusted with aromatic jasmine flower. Giant, electric blue
butterflies dance around you as they troll for guava fruit that has
dropped from the trees. Lizards scamper about and show off their insane
climbing skills just to make everyone jealous! And the skies streak with
squawking green parakeets that quickly move between giant palm trees.
Everyone has fresh papaya, banana, and mangoes to share from the trees
on their land. The skies are blue every day.

The great giant, electric blue butterflies that mesmerize you when you enter into Serra do Cipo (unfortunately, they wouldn't show off the electric blue on the inside of their wings AND slow down long enough for us to capture it)

Lizard flexing his muscles for us after making Russian Style ascent

Bananas ripening on the property of our pousada, Espaco Mandalla

A view of Lamurias de um Viciado (orange-colored rock furtherst right), over 40 meters of pure movement and enjoyment. This Brazilian 7b (5.11b) is the famous, must do climb at sunset.

Now, Cipo is not for the beginning climber. Aside from some
difficult-to-protect trad routes at easier grades, there is one grade 5
(5.9) sport climb, a handful of grade 6's/5.10's to warm up on (most of
which are in the 5.10c/d range), and technical, crimpy, or steep climbs
whose grades rise from there.

Lindsey leading Johnny Quest (5.10c/d) to warm up for the day.

The style of sport climbing Is different in Cipo than other crags we've
visited.stick clips are commonly found at the base of climbs as many
climbs have technical or bouldery starts, sometimes combined with a
distant first bolt. We were getting pretty good at stick-clipping by the
end of our stay! Some harder climbers also found collapsable tent pokes
to be a good way to put the draws up and sus out the moves before going
for the red point. Further, many climbs have draws left up
semi-permanently. Some believe that the climbs in Cipo are graded for
pre-placed draws.

At any rate, with so many inspiring lines, we were driven to try harder
than we might have otherwise, and in some cases, it payed off!

Ben getting the red point on Once Protecioes e Um Segrado (11 Protections and One Secret), his first 5.12b!

Lindsey red pointing Ninos, a fun but steep 5.10c/d!

There are other sport crags between Belo Horizonte and Cipo, including
Gruta de Lapinha (only accessible to climbers on Sundays currently with
max admittance of 40 to preserve  glyphs in the caves) and Sitio do Rod,
both located off the same road just 10-15 km from the town of Lagoa
Santa. There is greater variety of easier climbs at these locations. We
easily hitch hiked from Cipo, though you could get there by taking two
buses from Cipo. These crags are listed in the Cipo guidebook. Below are
some photos of Sitio do Rod--pretty cool limestone with fascinating



A mix of shots from the climbing area, Sitio do Rod, near the city of Lagoa Santa

We also ran into this fella at Sitio do Rod - yep, it's a tarantula


Enjoying a casual get together at the Espaco Mandala

Part of what makes Cipo such a classic climbing destination is the
culture, and Cipo has a beautiful climbing community, most of which
could be found staying at our pousada, Espaco Mandalla, or trolling by
Mandalla for an afternoon acai or to use the Internet.  Any climber
going to Cipo must stay here. Sure, there are other choices, but
Mandalla and Cipo are synonymous.

The greeting sign for Espaco Mandalla

Ben holding down the fort at Mandalla.

Below are some the usual suspects who made this place so on our trip:

Alexandre "Fei" -

Fei Face
Fei means ugly, but this nickname is your classic misnomer. Fei is like
an icon to this community--the ladies love him, he seems to make friends
with everyone, and his carefree stewardship (if there is such a thing!)
for the climbing around this area is parallel to none. He is constantly
putting up new routes in Cipo, giving people belays on their projects,
and projecting some pretty mind-boggling routes himself. His voice
echoes through G3 as though he comes packaged with G3--the two not sold
separately. He runs the lanchonete out of the Espaco Mandala hostel, and
makes the best Acai and juices around!

Fei Acai
Always a party in the afternoons/evenings at the lanchonete!

Fei Climb
Fei enjoying the movement of climbing

Steve and Nadia -

An amazing couple from England, Steve and Nadia were our original
welcome party to Cipo. They arrived in Cipo six weeks prior with plans
to only stay for a week or two and have been there ever since! They have
been the glue between the English speakers and the Brazilians, bringing
us all together! They were invaluable in showing us around and
introducing us to everyone. Steve has been climbing for a long time and
helped establish climbing on Lao Liang Island in Thailand, where we
spent New Years on our last big adventure!  Nadia only started climbing
when they arrived to Brazil about five months ago and already is getting
on, and leading, some pretty hard and technical stuff!

Steve dynoing his project Escamoso

Enjoying another lovely dinner with Steve and Nadia! We looked forward to their turn to cook!

Dinner. Little tip: everything goes better with recejao cremoso (like cream cheese)!

Wagner and Francine Borges -

This lively couple owns Espaco Mandala. They take great pride in the
property, offering great rates, fresh fruit from their trees,
comfortable and clean digs, and information and partners for climbing.
Even though they have day jobs in Belo Horizonte and coastal cities,
they still work tirelessly to make Espaco Mandalla eco-friendly and
perfect for climbers to enjoy. They are both strong climbers and amazing

Francine took us climbing one day, and we all learned from her precise technique!

Alessandro and Mara -

This strong, happy couple Got a place in Cipo for a couple months to
climb and get strong--and from what we could tell are surely succeeding!

Allessandro taking advantage of the midway rest before a long
series of technical and strenuous moves on Super Heroes, 10a (5.13c) in
the Sala de Justica

Pedro and Hogario (Mr. BBQ) -

Pedro and Hogario (hereafter Mr. BBQ) came from Curitiba and rented a
place in the town of Cipo to improve their climbing. Mr. BBQ started as
Pedro's climbing instructor and they grew into friends. Aside from being
a master on the rock, Mr. BBQ is a master on the grill (churrasco)! He
hands down makes the best BBQ chicken, steak, and pork we've ever
tried!! Pedro knows probably more languages than Ben (Portuguese,
Spanish, German, French, probably others) and was a great teacher for us
to progress our Portuguese!


Renata -

This woman is amazing! She has a heart of gold and is a great guide for
folks who want to visit local waterfalls, etc. Renata has been
projecting this beautiful climb called Once Protecaoes e Um Segrado 8b/
5.12b), and has generously left up the draws for all of us to try as
well. She knows every sequence with exact precision and by the time we
left was going to send it any day. Good luck!

Renata working on her project

Alex and Gabriel -

These two roommates frequented the Mandalla, G3, and were the source of
much instigation and fun! Gabriel also has many slick dance moves!!

Alex tearing it up!

Others - There were so many other amazing people and amazing climbers we
met while in Cipo who swung by for a weekend or more of sending:
Fabiola, Milkio, and Pedrino all from Belo Horizonte; Lilian and
Leese and many others from Curitiba; Eddie; and so many others!!

Pedrino sending hard in Viale de Blair, G1

Eddie ending the day on a tough 8a (5.12a), on the technical moves
of the dragon's cavern/Johnny Quest sector, G3. Eddie is famous in
Brazil for his all-around climbing and mountaineering achievements and
contributions. Plus, he makes a dangerous caipirosca!

Edemilson Padilha
Eddie - Mr Conquista!

Lilian and Leese on the top of another Serra do Cipo classic


With just a few days left in our trip, we stayed in Cipo until the rain
subsided a bit in Rio. We spent our final three days hiking in Pedro de
Gavea and climbing at Pao de Azucar.

Pedro de Gavea

Jack fruits cover the lower hike of Pedro de Gavea in the Tujica forest

Approaching a small, soggy via ferrata section up the Pedro de Gavea hike

Loving the small scramble up to the final part of the hike!

Ben trying to stay warm on the summit

Lindsey checking out the steep overhang to the road and beach below from the summit

The last supper, a delicious treat at a place called Via Sete in Ipanema

So with that, we say tchau (ciao) to our new friends in Brazil and may
we see you sometime in the future, wherever that may be! Now, we are off
to Peru, to the high mountains of the Cordillera Blanca to volunteer in
a small community for two months and bag some peaks! Love to all!

More photos from this segment of our journey can be found here:
(Serra do Cipo)

and here:

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Dave Yount on

Yowsa! Those pics really ignite my desire to climb!!! What interesting looking rock. Nice sending!!!!

Rob Fatland on

briga! onward! on

Incredible scenery......wonderful picks....and the Last Supper......Mmmmmm!
Miss you guys!

Max on

love the last supper photo, your kneecaps have never looked so solid

Auntie Emily on

Ah Ben... obviously you did not inherit the 'fear of heights gene' that is rather prevalent in your Nana Margaret's family.While I appreciate your blogs and love the photos of you two, I'm glad I'm not there to watch! Keep climbing, having fun and staying safe. Love and Hugsz

benglenn on

Love your updates, so inspiring! Love you too!

Loni Uchytil on

So inspiring! Way to climb Lindsey!!! Thanks for sharing!

Bon on

Thanks y'all for the great comments and the ever present stoke!

Lori Ada Kilty on

Truly incredible! And inspiring! Thanks for sharing!


We are loving the updates and the pictures!! What an amazing experience.

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