What a shame that my first full post in english on this blog has to be about negative news.
An italian and a french climber, accompanied by a brazilian climber that lives in Europe, visited the Itatiaia area in june. Itatiaia is a mountainous area in the southeastern part of Brazil, with heights between 2400 and 2800 m above sea level, with beautiful wind sculpted granite blocs, mountains and spires, filled with beautiful cracks and chimneys (here’s a great video about climbing in Itatiaia), aside from being smearing heaven if that’s your style. In our winter, temperatures easy fall way bellow freezing level in the campsite and refuge areas. It is actually one of the very few places to crack climb in the country. There are hundreds of routes which are usually no more than an hour walk away from the campsite. It is a place like no other for rock climbing in Brazil, especially for trad climbers because it is, at least to me, a smaller version of an alpine climbing environment – routes, rock, temperature, etc. It is indeed, quite a special place, and worth the 4 hour drive from where I live.
|That’s me resting in between climbs on Morro do Couto, a crag full of adherence routes inside the park. In the background on the right, is Agulhas Negras (Black Needles) peak.|
The national park spans most of the great climbing areas, and has strict regulations about climbing and opening new routes, which are quite controversial, and to which not all of us climbers agree, but still, the climbing community and the park directors – one of them a very prolific climber – have maintained delicate but cordial relations for quite some time now. Through dialog and understanding, this community has been able to create a set of rules and maintain climbing as an authorized activity inside the park area (as absurd as it may sound, climbing was prohibited there for a long time). It is a victory though.
Well, I met these people in the refuge in June, and they only talked about opening some new routes at a sport climbing crag nearby. Also, because you need authorization to open new routes inside the park area, we’d never thought they’d try to open routes inside the park. That’s something I’d love to do, but I can’t, because I respect the rules. We went on do our climbs outside of the park, they went on to do theirs.
Well, turns out not only did these guys open two new routes without authorization, they also torn down bolts from at least one very classical route (a beautiful off width that cannot be protected with cams), because they felt the bolt wasn’t necessary (first bolt was 18 m high), and because “in Europe things are like this”, meaning, local ethics are good for nothing, and they skipped geography class.
I won’t get into the discussion about bolting or not bolting. I support clean free climbing. But I despise disrespectful behavior for the sake of personal beliefs, in any case. Especially in an area that has a sensitive and delicate situation regarding rock climbing.
The result of this arrogant attitude is that now the park management is considering the prohibition of any form of climbing in its area.
THANK YOU GUYS! Work and effort of hundreds of people over years is destroyed in a few days. Lesson to be learned: if you can’t respect or disagree with local ethics, you’re welcome to climb elsewhere.
Personally, this is a big blow to me. I adore Itatiaia and the possibility of not being able to climb there just makes my heart wither.
Here’s the original denouncement and here’s the news with more details and regarding the closing of the park. I won’t bother translating because certainly these two didn’t bother to investigate why the park has so many annoying rules and what the consequences of their actions would be. Sorry readers, I’m just really pissed right now.
UPDATE (October 16th): The National Confederation of Mountaineering and Climbing in Brazil has released a statement regarding this issue. It can be read here. Basically, they condemn the actions of Oddo and Moroni. The good news is that Itatiaia will remain open for climbing.