Climbing Up Sugar Loaf Via a Steel Cable...Just Another Way to Get to the Top

 

If you want to tell people you have seen Rio de Janeiro, there are a few “not to miss” attractions and one of them is the Pão de Açucar (Sugar Loaf). Most people go to the summit of Sugar Loaf the normal way: by cable trolley. Few people know that there are alternative, more adventurous ways to get there. One of them is a walk to the top (referred to as “costão”), a three hour walk which involves a little rock climbing, but nothing too difficult. I did it with no prior climbing experience and with normal running shoes.

Another way of getting to the top is climbing via a steel cable that runs along the steepest side of the rock, called the “Via Ferrata”. This is a little more difficult than the walk, but it is so rewarding if you get to the top and see the sunset over Rio de Janeiro.

 

 

Here’s Robson, my friend and guide, getting geared up

 

The whole experience starts with a 20 minute uphill trail starting from the base of Sugarloaf, leading through the forest that covers most of the surrounding slopes, until you reach a ledge. From there it is a fairly steep climb to the place where the cable starts and for me, this was actually the hardest part, partially because I found out right there that I hadn’t brought my climbing shoes... I would have to go up with my Asics running shoes. Since Robson was leading the way, and he has been climbing since his teenage years, I was pretty confident that I was in good hands.

 

There’s Robson taking the first hurdle: a steep wall leading to the starting point of the cable. Notice the cables of the trolley in the blue sky…

 

 

Once the steep wall conquered, you just follow the steel cable upwards. The cable is rusted and you can cut your hands on little steel pins sticking out here and there, so wearing gloves is not a bad idea.

 

 

Why take the easy way if you can make it more difficult huh?

 

A short rest halfway… We’ll have a cold one at the top, right? Note the little mountain tip right above my hand? That is Christ the Redeemer

 

Getting closer to the top…

 

Like sardines in a can? No thanks... This is way more fun :o)

 

 

And this is the reward: a stunning view of Rio de Janeiro in the light of the setting sun…

 

This was one of my first adventurous activities after moving to Brazil in January 2009. I have to thank Robson for taking me there. It was an awesome experience and I couldn't have done it without him.

Raf.

 

The author is founder of Mirantes Mototravel Brasil, a tour operator of adventurous motorcycle tours in the South-East, North-East and South regions of Brazil.

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