Rio De Janiero has an unmistakable landscape. Granite domes litter the sea, urban sprawl seems to have been invented here, and the jungle still has its grip on many parts of the city. The environment provides a fix of both metropolitan hustle and outdoor adventure steps from your door.
Staying in Ipanema, one of the cities hip, young and beach side neighborhoods, we had access to beautiful beaches with great surfing and non-stop nightlife. From the apartment we rented you could see one of the Wonders of the World, The Christ statue. Everyday, whether high season or low, buses run non-stop shuttling tourists to its base for a smile and picture with this stone giant. Pretty much a must do on this trip; we wanted to find out if the Granite dome it sat upon was climbable.
As rock climbers our eyes are immediately drawn to this opportunity and after a few google searches we found a route named “K2” that climbs a few hundred feet to the base of the statue. A chance to skip the crowded busses and see the city from a perspective less frequented had us roped in right away.
On the day of the climb we hailed a cab, which are relatively cheap and possibly more plentiful than New York City, which would take us as close as we could get to the route. There are no cars past a certain point on the road to the statute and the only way up is to pay for the tourist shuttle, walk, or climb. After about twenty minutes of bushwacking through the jungle and following questionable directions we were at the base of the route.
Climbing outside of the U.S. can sometimes get the nerves going. Between old bolts in the wall and more space than is comforting between protection, spicy can be the name of the game. This proved to be the case in certain spots along the climb and the wandering nature of the route provided a few delicate traverses where a big swing would follow a fall.
After the first hundred feet the anxiety had settled and looking out to city below and the sea beyond had a calming effect. The landscape really came to life from this viewpoint and you could almost imagine the Jurassic feel it must have had before it’s Urban boom. The climbing zigged and zagged until you could hear voices from the crowds above. As we reached the top of the last pitch a final jungle scramble was required to reach the top.
Popping out a bit below the tourists, we climbed up and over the fence that separated us from the crowds. The looks of confusion as we stumbled over in our climbing gear may have been the highlight of the day. Some people were taking pictures while others were really just trying to figure out where we came from. Taking the road, or “wall” in this case, less traveled proved to be the right choice and a memory that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.