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By Christopher Mill, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – “Rio is the greatest spot on earth for urban climbing. There are more than 400 routes of all grades and styles just minutes from the city center,” enthuses Clarissa Martins, manager of the Climb In Rio guided climb group. “We have the world’s largest urban forest to explore and dozens of rock peaks featuring climbs on gneiss, granite and basalt.”

The intimidating Nosferatu climb, part of Morro Babilônia, by Renata Mello / Climb In Rio.

With so much else on offer, the quality of climbing in Rio needs to be underlined, but for virtually any mountain you might want to conquer in the state there is an experienced guide available and ready to show you the ropes. For a fixed price you can choose any one of hundreds of locations and have a Climb In Rio expert (AGUIPERJ registered) plot out a route and have everything from food and water to equipment and transportation organized for you. The one thing you do need to have is your own pair of climbing shoes, but you can buy a pair in almost any sport shop in town. (The key is to wear them in a bit before your first climb).

Sugar Loaf Mountain alone has over fifty individual climbing routes, each necessitating a different level of competency. ‘The Joker’, the recommended route up for a beginner, works its way up the south face of the mountain with great views of the coast. For a more experienced climber, a route named ‘The Italian’ is next, featuring some tougher obstacles calling for technical climbing and edging up through tight horizontal chutes known as chimneys.

Only a few hundred meters past the Sugar Loaf cable car station, a climb called ‘Nosferatu’ on Babilônia hill requires an entirely different style. Recommended only for veterans, Nosferatu offers challenges that can only be overcome with the use of Aid climbing which is employed when free climbing is no longer possible, requiring you to dangle out from the rock and hoist yourself up, sometimes with pulleys, to climb over the lip above.

Any rock-climbing enthusiasts will find themselves spoiled for choice looking up at the mountains that surround Rio. Those looking for the chance of conquering a new route of their own will find there are other opportunities waiting for them far from the city’s golden coast line.

The Cavalo Louco (Crazy Horse) climb on iconic Sugarloaf Mountain, photo by Renata Mello / Climb In Rio.

Friburgo, a three-hour drive inland, offers a unique climbing experience very different to that on offer in Rio. “Throughout this region there are close to fifty sensational climbs.” Clarissa Martin insists, “With its mountains, its climate and enormous potential for new routes, Salinas, the Bonsucesso Towers and the Vale dos Frades form one of the most important rock climbing regions anywhere in Brazil.”

A half day climb lasting four to five hours will cost you R$200. This fixed price does not mean you can’t take on more than one climb per session. Full day and multi-day climbs can also be arranged as well as overnight camp facilities should they be needed.

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