Welcome to Brazil

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Kevin looked over to me… “rule number one… no dieing.”

Oh great… that makes sense.

I stared down at the ensuing death drop and the boulder problem that had the crux precairously situated over it.  After watching Kevin pull the moves effortlessly I figured I had a chance.  I chalked up and pulled onto the first move… and immediately dry-fired off and back flopped onto the pad.

Oh shit.  Not a good start…. 

please don’t die. 

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After about a two week rest from Africa, an opportunity to travel down to Brazil arose.  Kevin Jorgenson and I were invited to go with Adidas to explore and put up new lines.  It was an incredible mission to go have a whirl wind experience in three or four climbing areas in South America’s largest country, as well as meet with interesting folks.  The answer was fairly simple; “yep, I’ll go!”

My bags were packed… I was ready to go… I had that quirky song “Leaving on a jet plane,” on my mind and as I approached the ticket counter in Denver’s International Airport I was happy.  I punched in my ticket number (or confirmation number) and recieved a funny little reply.

NO TICKET AVAILABLE

               Uh oh. Please… I don’t need another epic. 

So I turned towards a rather kind looking woman in her mid-forties and crossed my fingers.

              “Excuse me, sorry I seem to be having some issues with my ticket.”

              “I’m sorry sir, your not booked for this flight.”- her reply.

              ahh man… “Are you sure?  I mean I have a confirmation number.”

              “No sir there is no Benjamin Rueck confirmed for this flight.”

I was flabbergasted (and I don’t generally use that word).

              Haha… this is a joke “Really?  I have a confirmation number though.”

              “Our system says you aren’t booked.”

              “Ok look I need to be in Brazil by tomorrow morning so is it possible to just get another ticket?”

               “I’m sorry sir there are no more seats available.”

               Ok this is getting serious…

After about twenty minutes of having no options available to me… and realizing that my time was running short for being able to get on a plane for Brazil I abandoned my trying to fly with US Airways and went for United Airlines.

It was a nightmare.

Somehow during my rebooking adventure my credit card maxed out due to a double ticket charge, I’d spent an hour on the phone trying to figure it out; and my chances of getting on a plane to go meet up with Kevin in Rio was looking slim to none.  After another 30 minutes on the phone and some sort of voodoo I managed to get a ticket onto a flight that left in 40 minutes.  I ran.  All I did was run.  I ran through security as fast I could… I ran through the escalators, I ran to the gate, and somehow I managed to make it onto the plane by last call.  (I did threaten (or offer) to take off my pants at security).

Due to the booking of my flight so quickly the layovers for each subsequent flight were less than 40 minutes.  Each time I stepped off of the plane I was sprinting to the next terminal.  Thank god I had been working cardio.  But somehow I managed to make each connection, and after 5 hours of flight time I found myself sitting next to a man and his dog for the long haul down to Rio.

Brazil is insane.  Amazing, but insane.  I met up with Kevin Jorgenson who was laughing at me as I arrived an hour later than him.  (We were supposed to be on the same flights).

“Dude, I didn’t think you would make it.”- kevin

“That makes two of us.”

We loaded the car with the local guide and friend Murillo to go to our first climbing area.  As we drove for a few  hours to Sao Paulo, the breadth of Brazil began to unfold around the two of us.

Brazil is huge.  Much larger than most people anticipate. The landscape is a mixture of mountains and plains, all green and tropical.  I understand why Rio has such a reputation for it’s scenary.  As we travelled Kevin and I had a growing anticipation for the rock ahead.  I was psyched for the climbing.  Somehow I managed to avoid losing my baggage this time; as well as actually make to Brazil to begin with; so I was feeling pretty good!

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The climbing and the culture of Brazil is amazing.  The people are incredibly friendly and excited about their world, and love to share experiences and local customs with outsiders.  It was really welcoming.  Our guide was a local crusher named Felipe Camargo.  He explored and established many double digit boulder problems throughout Sao Paulo and Uba Tuba.  As well as establshing himself as a competent sport climber.  The perfect guide.

We travelled alot; saw alot and expereinced alot. But from these experiences I really enjoyed Uba Tuba and Itachiaia the most out of all the areas.

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Uba Tuba is an odd little climbing zone that is located a few hours south of Rio De Janeiro along the coast.  The bouldering area itself is set on a small jutted out piece of rock into the bay and every now and again a massive sea swell can crash against the small peninsula and send water over the landing zones.  It was such a unique and jaw-dropping experience.  Problems ranged from V0-V14 (though I only completed a V8).

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The next area was a place called Itachiaia; high altitude walls and boulders.  This area was absolutely amazing and virtually untouched.  Walls that offered multi-pitch, single pitch, and high-balls were plentiful… and a plan to head back became apparent immediately considering we only had two days to climb.  It was in Itachiaia that Kevin and I found our first rule of climbing together and I found myself hoping that a dry-fire didn’t send me plummeting to my immediate demise.  I survived in a semi-climactic groveling up a scary slab… then proceeded to jump across a bunch of boulders with more death falls… yeah!

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don’t die

The road trip was insane.  We covered a massive amount of territory in a very short amount of time.  Everyone in Brazil drives like they are in a forumla one race; there was many times when we heard the tires squealing.  In fact there was very little climbing for the first few days due to what Kevin and I would soon learn was a common misconception in the flow of time.  What was supposed to take an hour would to turn into three; and if it was supposed to take more than two hours the amount would increase exponentially.  But we were on island time so it didn’t really matter.  In fact we learned a great little saying “Tudo Bem” (which roughly translates to… It’s all good)!

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The future

       The adventure is there… it is just time to unlock it.

Get outside and have fun :)!

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