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Things to do : Sports : Rock Climbing Last Updated: Jun 28, 2008 - 12:29:23 AM

Madeira on the Rocks...
By Oliver R. Donald Guenay
Jun 5, 2008 - 11:34:55 AM

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Early mountain climbers employed less security than today - they were brave sportsmen

Climbing therefore has not had such a long tradition as on the continent and does not inspire many people to venture it.
The first serious climbers on the island had been the Silva brothers in the early fifties.
Around 1955, equipped with hardly more than a rope, Dr. Ruiz Silva and his younger brother Isamberto, began to explore the rock summits around Pico do Areeiro.
In this "heroic age" of climbing the use of a harness was unknown or the equipment unavailable. With no more than a rope around the waist and across the shoulder, belaying was done, and by good luck no accident happened.
A vintage photo of a climber in the seventies

The first climbs were done at the rocks below of the Miradouro do Juncal and the Boca do Buraco. The latter giving a perfect beginners spot for any new climbing aspirant.
Early mountain climber

With more security and equipped with pitons and harnesses, the Silva brothers tempted the more serious peaks:  Pico das Torres and Pico do Gato, but especially the overhanging face of Torre do Couraleiro and the mixed climb at Pico do Cedr„o (solid basalt changes with sedimented pebbles).
Also the climbs were tempted under severe conditions as in winters.
By the mid seventies all the major peaks had been climbed across for what they could offer as a rock climing pursuit.
A cliff top at "Boca do Buraco" - and of-course being on top of the world while doing it...

During the eighties Marco Bareto was the first to use bolts and spits for protection at the ridge of Boca do Buraco and at some seacliffs below the Doca do Cavacas at the eastern end of the Praia Formosa.

Except for the artificial climb on Torre do Couraleiro (V, A 3) the highest standards of  freeclimbing difficulties on Madeira were faced there: 6 b+ (or UIAA grade 7 +).
An enthusiast testing the ropes near "Boca do Buraco"

Due to the monolithic or very smooth / compact form of the basalts, the use of bolts is necessary if one wants to go further and try higher difficulties. And especially during the hot months the rock is nearly unclimbable over the day . Take a lot of Magnesia and, if climbing the basalt cracks, use tape on your hands, the rock is very rough!

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