Monday, July 3


Portugal. I went there in May, and I went climbing. Here is my Portugal story !

Lisbon is a fantastic city. Unique architecture, stunning light and packed with character. Steep little streets and bustling for the most part, the only downside of this place is perhaps it's rampant summer tourism. Food was amazing. People were very cool. The climbing was memorable.

I linked up with my good buddy Andre Neres on day one. I was traveling with my family but my Dad and I were keen to slip away and explore some of the climbing I'd been hearing and reading about. Andre showed us his backyard zone, Meio Mango. This is a fantastic sea-side spot with outstanding rock quality and a sick ocean vibe. Waves slam into the nearby rocky shore all day, sometimes even large enough to splash the cliffs. All of the areas have clean, dry staging areas. I climbed several really great 5.12s there and a bouldery 14a called 'O Senhor das Anilhas' that was awesome. There are tyroleans installed all along the shore to cross from crag to crag. When we were there these were safe and newly replaced. You will want some pretty legit directions to the parking area (a seemingly random dirt circle) and for the decent to the cliffs - expect a 20 min or so approach down a steep ocean-side gully with some easy 5th class down climbing near the end (also possible to rappel the very end). We found the approach itself to be utterly breathtaking. As for the climbing, the conditions are tough to nail. You need the cliff to see sun before or preferably while you're climbing because the walls get humid as hell throughout the night and morning from the crashing water. Thankfully there was a good wind when we were climbing so the sun was fine, albeit hot. Don't expect any fixed draws here, but you can expect state of the art titanium chemical bolts on all of the classics and more. It's about an hour drive south from downtown Lisbon.

The next zone we checked out was Fenda. This is not too far from Mango, but a remarkably different scene. Fenda is just a few hundred yards above a gorgeous beach, but the climbing itself is nestled in a fault like system. Here you park at a random dirt pull off spot along the road and then find a well traveled trail descending into the trees (this is important... well traveled! it will be obvious but we made the mistake of following a number of less traveled trails into nowhere). Information is hard to find but you should get a topo and the parking spot online. The main zone here is pretty damn awesome. Good rock quality and drippy limestone features. Great routes here from 5.11 up to 13d. I climbed 'UHU Stick' 13d in a complete battle to the death in the worst conditions I've experienced outside of Thailand. Probably the hardest I tried all year, no joke. And 'Paparazzi' 13a both of which were great. If we had more time and the weather was better I would have loved to climb here more. It was hard to stay stoked in the oppressive heat though. It definitely would have been a better beach day.

Last zone we checked out was Sagres. This impressive sea-side cliff is located just outside of a town by the same name on the very South-Western most tip of Portugal, about 3 hours south of Lisbon. You'll drive out towards the lighthouse and park somewhere on the left side of the road (again, search the internet for more exact beta). From here you'll have a short walk through fine red sand to the edge of the cliff. The best method for approaching Sagres is to rappel. There are beefy rap anchors with a great little spot to stand and thread the rope. The staging areas here are a little more heads-up. There are fixed lines to clip into but nowhere to really completely chill. The reward however, is stunning rock with the deep blue Atlantic crashing just a few dozen feet under your belay. We climbed a couple awesome 12a routes and I did a super memorable 12c that climbed through a rad tufa. Unfortunately the conditions were really bad and the rock was literally wet (we got there too late - on a cloudy day - again you NEED sun for these sea-side zones). To get out, it is best to follow the fixed lines down near the water (lower than the belays) to the climbers left and around the corner to an easy spot for hiking out. I was confused when Andre encouraged us to rap in and then traverse out, but you'll understand why this is best when you get there. Overall I feel like Sagres could be the best climbing in Portugal but I think considering the vibes and entire area my Dad and I both enjoyed Mango the most.

In summary... Portugal climbing is better than I expected. The rock quality is really great, and the variety is there. Conditions are definitely the hardest part and it can vary so much day-to-day that making a trip for the sole purpose of sending the gnar could be frustrating. If you're in the mood to do some touristing or beach activities in between climbing days this would be awesome for you. These zones are not the most easy to navigate, which is largely what motivated me to write a few things I would have liked to know here on my blog (apparently there is a guide in the works (?) but I don't have details). Hook up with a local if you can, but otherwise search around and screen shot some random beta and you'll make it. Enjoy!