“Serra da Estrela”literally translatesto “Star Mountain”, and is the highest mountain of continental Portugal. This beautifulgranite massiflocated in the eastern-center of the country, is the only place with established winter climbing routes, both mixed and ice.
We consider Serra da Estrela as our backyard! This privilege means that we can leave our front door already equipped with mountain boots, and the harness on!
Yet, this “Winter” has been one of the worst winters ever! Up until recently, just a few cold days with snowallowed some climbable conditions… and we took the chance!
With a very shy presence of ice (to say the least) we managed to climb a few ice routes, always protecting (like we are used in Serra da Estrela) with a few short ice-screws – the rock is always a few inches from the surface of the ice. Good fun anyway!
Living in Serra da Estrelameans we can have all the climbing spectrum in a short period of time. On the day after that good ice climbing day, we were roped at the base of arock project just half an hourfrom the ice cascades…and half an hour from our front door! This time we opened a new four pitches aid route and, in the end, the rock project became just another… project! A free climbing one! We left the place feeling we needed to work out a little bit more on our pull-ups before dreaming of freeing this brand-new route.
Once more, we went home with that amazing thought: “Where in the world can we do some good ice climbing and, in the very next day, just a few kilometers away, rock climb, wearing light clothes?” We are pretty convinced the answer is: “Very few places!”