Climbing shoes and a bag of magnesium carbonate is all the equipment used to climb the steep cliffs hanging over the sea at at Red Bull PsicoBloc. Goosebumps, ahoy!
Without ropes but with a lot of determination a dozen international climbers joined in a unique challenge on 30 July: freeclimbing the lost cliffs between Portugal's Cape Espichel and Sesimbra in the country's first edition of Red Bull Psicobloc.
The coast near Sesimbra has all the prerequisites needed to become a new mecca for climbers specialising in DWS (Deep Water Soloing).
Sesimbra joins a handful of destinations, including Majorca, where the sport began in the 1960s. From there, it went global and is now popular in countries such as Croatia, France, Thailand, Colombia and Brazil. Taking its name from the strong psychological pressure the athletes are put under, Psicobloc limits the equipment of athletes to just a pair of climbing shoes and a bag of chalky magnesium (for drying hands).
Slovenia's Natalija Gros (a former European Climbing Champion and currently number five in the climbers’ world rankings) and Spain's Miguel Riera (a veteran of the sport) added an international dimension to Red Bull Psicobloc. They created a strong competition by selecting ten top climbers: Ana Marisa Correia, André Neres, Carlos Simes, Edgar Silva, Francisco Ataíde, Isabel Boavida, Leopoldo Faria, Kimie Kon, Ricardo Belchior and Ricardo Neves.
The competition was based on a system of teams venturing out to discover the most extreme routes in two sectors: the El Dorado and The Great Roof.
Reaching the top of the routes was celebrated with some spectacular dives.
Miguel Riera, the father of Psicobloc in Spain, said: 'Red Bull Psicobloc provides us with an enormous physical and mental challenge. Here we don’t only have a mountain to climb but we also have to face a fear of heights and the inherent risk of falling into the water.'
Natalija Gros highlighted the 'relaxed atmosphere of this meeting and the opportunity to explore the wilder side of pure climbing.' And Ricardo Belchior, who represented Portugal in the World Climbing Championships in 2007, was keen to add: 'It was good to bring together the best national climbers and get their attention. This happened in a day with some quite difficult conditions. Also the presence of international athletes was important and enriching.'