American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Brazil, Ibitirati, Pico do Paraná, Toca-toca o Pau na Mula

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2009

Ibitirati, Pico do Paranâ, Toca-toca o Pau na Mula. When Val (Valdesir Machado) and I first saw pictures of Ibitirati, a mountain along the Pico do Paraná ridge, we noticed that right in the middle was a stripe of clean vertical rock. Our first thought was, “But to get there must be rather difficult.” We realized that the stuff we needed would be too heavy for two of us, so we called Guinho (Pahl Wagner) from São Paulo. We omitted some details so he would accept the invitation more easily.

We left home at 4 a.m. At such a time I prefer boulders or sport routes: I can wake up at 11, have breakfast, climb from 2 or 3 until 6 or 7, and there’s always a party at night. That’s life! But back to the story: We began hiking around 7 a.m., starting at Bairro Alto, near Antonina. We made the approach, climbed a third of the route Mar de Caratuvas (the most popular route on Ibitirati) and arrived at Platô do Jean Claude, from where we hiked up a bamboo hell until we reached a groove filled with bushes that finally delivered us to the base of our climb. It had taken us 10 hours to that point. We bivied on a bad ledge, deluded that the next night would be better.

We woke up a little disheartened; the rock above had neither cracks nor holds. We scrambled through bushes another 150m to an overwhelming roof. With free and aid, a lot of brute strength, and some insanity, Val climbed the roof. When I reached the anchor, drenched in sweat and exhausted, Val looked at me slyly and said, “My pitch was hard, but the next is harder.” Guinho gave me an “It’s all yours, Bro!” look, so I started a silent, private talk with my absent shrink, and up I went, cleaning cracks and trying to avoid bolting.

At the end of the pitch I had to place bolts, but my partners could neither see nor hear me and thought the rope was fixed for them, while I screamed and tried to balance on a narrow ledge. At last we managed to communicate by tugging on the rope. Needless to say, the next pitch would be even worse than this one. The mountain didn’t back off, as though testing to see how far into the game we were.

The second day ended while Val tried to deal with the also-ending cracks, on a pitch extremely complex and exposed. Guinho and I searched for a place where the three of us could sleep, but when evening came we just wanted a place to sit down. Finally we found a ledge so narrow we could barely light the stove. It was a long night.

Third day: We woke up broken and were hit by strong wind gusts. At least we would drink less water that day. Our 18 liters of water were mostly gone, as the sun had cooked us the previous day. But the headwall wanted to see how long we would keep on playing. After finishing the fourth pitch, I thought we were close to the summit, maybe one or two pitches more. My friends reached me, and we analyzed a picture of the face. Val had doubts, but I convinced him that there was not much more to go; it was better to have a positive attitude.

Val led the fifth pitch, which started with delicate bush-climbing, then entered a beautiful diagonal crack. I started the sixth pitch betting that it was the last of the route. With hair- raising protection I moved right to a slab, where I found no cracks and had to downclimb. I looked at the rotten crack again, saw salvation some meters above, but couldn’t reach it. I was stuck. I said to myself “Come on, Ed, think! Use your head!” I stepped a little higher and found cracks, but none of the cams fit. I backed down and felt completely immersed in the game. There was no turning back, it was my last play, and I couldn’t afford to lose. I retrieved a Friend from below, made a difficult move, put it into the crack above, and it fit like a glove! I took a breath, made some more moves, and walked toward the summit shouting to my friends.

What a mountain, what a climb! We couldn’t believe we had made it; the route never gave us a break. The mountain had dealt the cards, as we buried ourselves ever deeper in the game, gambling everything, especially our pride. We walked down the opposite side, because rappeling that route was out of question. By the way, the name Toca-toca o Pau na Mula is a tribute to the old school of Parana’s mountaineers; we liked the music they sang at the Mountain Dinner. We thank our sponsors, Conquista, Snake, and Território.

Edemilson Miqueleto Padilha, Brazil (translated by Claudinei Dias da Silva)

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