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Deep in Jungle, Brazilians Climb New Tepui Route

The Guyana side of Monte Roraima, the largest of the Pakaraima tepuis, showing Guerra de Luz e Trevas (War of Light and Darkness, VI 5.11a A3, 12 pitches, 650m). Brazilian climbers Eliseu Frechou, Marcio Bruno and Fernando Leal established the route over 12 days in January. [Photo] Eliseu Frechou

Monte Roraima, on the border of Venezuela and Guyana, was first scaled in the 1800s, and tales from the adventure inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to pen The Lost World. Even two centuries later, when Eliseu Frechou first approached Monte Roraima by helicopter, his pilot got scared two kilometers from the wall and refused to continue.

Monte Roraima is the largest of the Pakaraima tepuis, huge plateaus that rise from the dense jungles of Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana.

In 2008, as his helicopter turned around, Frechou realized that the first challenge of climbing Monte Roraima from the Guyana side would be merely to get there. So in January 2010, with fellow Brazilian climbers Marcio Bruno and Fernando Leal, Frechou found a more adventurous pilot. Unable to land in the thick jungle, the pilot hovered above a boulder at the base of one of Monte Roraima’s waterfalls, and the climbers jumped out with their supplies.

The trio found rotten, vegetated rock for the first 500 feet of their route. Taking turns cleaning, fixing and climbing, they worked until the fifth day when they were hit by a heavy rainstorm. The rain trapped them in their bivy for four more days, forcing them to rig a plastic ground sheet as protection after the rain overwhelmed their portaledge fly. They were joined by various species of insects, spiders and scorpions as they waited out the rain. Finally the storm passed and the team spent the next three days negotiating better but sharp quartzite to the top. They named the route Guerra de Luz e Trevas (War of Light and Darkness, VI 5.11a A3, 12 pitches, 650m).

The Guyana side of the tepui was first climbed by Brits Joe Brown, Don Whillans, Mo Anthoine and Hamish MacInnes in 1973 and again in 2003 and 2006 by American teams.

Sources: Eliseu Frechou, ESPN Brazil,,,,

Hanging out high on the wall. [Photo] Eliseu Frechou

The Brazilians climb through vegetated quartzite. Water was never a problem, as daily rainfall kept the rock dripping and moist. Frechou said there were only two days it did not rain heavily during their two weeks on the wall. [Photo] Eliseu Frechou

Bruno, Leal and Frechou atop Monte Roraima. [Photo] Eliseu Frechou