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Casal Pianos, the recently discovered basalt sea cliff close to Lisbon in Portugal
Photo by Ricardo Alves
Nuno Pinheiro, one of the active developers of Casal Pianos at “Vida de casal”, 7b
Photo by Ricardo Alves

Casal Pianos, new crack climbing area in Portugal

06.01.2010 by Isabel Boavida

Climbing in Portugal has become more varied thanks to the recent discovery of the basalt sea cliff Casal Pianos. Located close to Lisbon, this crack trad cliff hosted an international meeting called "Pianos Rachados" in November.

Portugese climbing is best known for its good limestone cliffs next to the ocean which offer overhangs and some hard sport routes, or its countless boulder problems spread all over the Sintra mountains, the Serra da Estrela and the mountains in northwest Portugal. It is also possible to do some trad climbing in Portugal, either on the granite on its highest peaks or on the granite and limestone sea cliffs. But until recently, a trad crack area where climbers are forced to jam hands and feet was still missing.

A short while ago an outstanding sea cliff of black basalt was discovered next to Lisbon, just south of the surfing Mecca Ericeira. Called "Casal Pianos", the cliff is cut sheerly by pristine cracks and is reminiscent of England's Peak District, with the addition of exuberant evergreen shrubs, grayish black basalt rock and the Atlantic ocean below.

In mid November the area hosted a climbing meeting with the aim of promoting the crag which quickly became known as Portugal's "little Indian Creek". The SEA ("anonymous bolters society") worked hard at cleaning up the cracks and at drawing a topo of the crag. The climbers Fernando, Nuno, Rosado e Filipe were most active at first ascending new routes, but they left a few lines for the more adventurous climbers.

Climbers fought their way up cracks of all shapes and sizes for the first time and while lessons were given on how to tape up, several new lines were established by the more experienced trad climbers, including Belgian climber Nicolas Favresse. One talented Portuguese climber who has just sent his first 8c+ sport climb, André Neres, needed three goes to redpoint a trad 6b crack, proving once again that the skills needed to climb these routes are way different from pulling hard on crimps and slopers. The meeting, promoted by Petzl, Ortik and Strail, proved successful and in short planetmountain will publish a full crag description.

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