AUTHOR: Mayan Smith-Gobat
PHOTOGRAPHY: Frank Kretschmann
The stunning white arete on Piedra Riskada, a remote granite dome nearly 1000km north of Rio was our goal. After an epic, 16 hours drive on bad roads, with crazy driver's, gruesome motorbike crashes and no road rules, we eventually arrived, shaken and happy to be in a quiet welcoming farming village.
The 2,800 foot route 'The Place of Happiness' had been established by Stefan Glowach, bolting on lead over a space of two weeks. It was a proud line, with technical climbing on small knobs and terrifying run-outs between bolts. Ben and I switched leads, mentally exhausted from climbing into the unknown and always happy to pass over the lead. Our aim was to climb the route in a day.
Everything flowed and we climbed as a perfect team, yet our progress was slowed by thunderstorms and blazing heat, and as I was leading the final pitch — a 5.5 slab, darkness descended much quicker than expected. I was 120 feet out from the anchor and could not find bolts, an anchor or anything to clip. Foot and handholds kept breaking and another storm was rolling in — The consequences of a fall were not worth benefit of clipping the chains. I found a dubious horn to sling and came down, after much debate Ben and I decided to retreat.
Even though we had not clipped the chains, we felt content that we had climbed the route, finding flow and happiness in the process... A reminder that the journey is more important than the end result.