People must think i am a bum that thinks about mountain all the time. Well, almost. Still on my desperate search for a job, everywhere, running into small jobs or selling my stuff, after all i need to do something so i don’t go crazy. But my research on South American mountains is something practically endless. Researching information about some of them i discovered, there is one place in South America that mountaineering is more “damaged” than the prohibitions of Brazil! Many mountains in Brazil are forbidden to climb for many reasons, but this things i learned at the last couple days are worse!
Second photo by Tácio Philip. "Forbidden to climb"
It’s quite true, i spend my time looking at photos, working on my photos, building mountains pages here at summitpost to show brazilian mountains to the world, and in recent days, even kept a little time to compile data for two mountains and upload to our brazilian website, RUMOS.NET. You gotta keep dreaming! The intention was to build these mountains pages to the brazilian website, searching for them online, but the task became more complicated after the responses i got when i asked for information about them.
Amazing, when you read what i read...At first i thought it was a lie, but seconds later i remembered that in Brazil we have similar cases. I've been gathering information on some of the Colombian mountains, big mountains as the first and second highest in the country, Nevado Simon Bolivar of 5.775 meters of altitude, and Nevado Cristobal Colon, of 5.775 meters too. Even today it is not certain which one is the highest since the last measurement iwas done over twenty years ago. Twenty years!
Both are part of the same massif in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, this is NOT part of the Andes, it is a mountain range apart. Given a more impressive detail, both are classified as 5th mountain in the world in prominence, incredible 5.584 meters of topographic prominence. Almost the entire mountain.
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Cristobal Colon and Simon Bolivar.
The reason for the ban is the local life in the region that prevents the climbing of the mountain with religious beliefs. The Indian tribe Arhuacos closes access to the highest mountains in the country because they consider them holy mountains, the most sacred there. As an Historian i can understand that. I consulted a colombian climber / guide by email and received an answer full of sadness, saying "never been to Santa Marta Sierra and is a shame because the highest peaks of my country are there, only two of my friends were there and they got this information for you, this mountain hasn't been climbed for over 20 years".
It doesn’t ends here. After a week, thinking and rethinking about this mountain that nobody climbed in more than twenty years (according to the guide words), i thought of another big mountain in Colombia we do not hear from here in Brazil as well, just as the other two, and that would be the Nevado de Huila (this one belongs to the Andes), which has 5.365 meters of altitude, the highest volcano in the country and the third highest mountain in the country. It is a very active volcano, also is in full eruption is almost two years, erupting almost continuously since November 21st, 2008, but no network television gives us news at the moment about it.
The impressive Huila in full active eruption since nov 2008!, photos from a few days ago!
Photos by: INGEOMINAS (Colombian Institute of Geology)
The response was even more impressive on my query about this mountain, and this time i consulted an Colombian blogger/ climber, someone else, he said to me: "Paulo, thanks for your contact. The Nevado de Huila is an extremely unstable and dangerous mountain, it is an active volcano for almost two years non-stop, and unstable ground. Also, drug dealers and militia man cultivate opium at the foot of the volcano and they don’t let anyone go through their crops. It takes very good contacts for walk in this zone. Besides all this danger, it is necessary to speak with the Indians for permission to walk by their sacred mountains. Hugs...". Even to find photos of that mountains is difficult, since there are only photos from long distance or from an airplane, and at internet they’re the same 2 or 3 photos, that's all.
REALLY? Not just the first, not just the second mountain, the third highest peak also is strictly prohibited, with the risk not of been arrested (like the risks we have to deal with in Brazil) but to be shot to death! Now i think you guys understood the title of the article, right?
Here in Brazil our problems are pretty minor compared to these, and we have a great deal of problems with prohibitions. Eventually, despite these prohibitions, some expedition reaches the summit of Pico da Neblina and 31 de Março (1st and 2nd highest summits of my country), the latest news we heard of were Barbara Pereira and Beatriz Azevedo (both friends of my), and with Beatriz the hike was possible only because she had an printed approval, when she arrived it was closed again and the paper saved her expedition. Simple, the prohibitions here in Brazil are temporary and the Indians welcome any negotiations. They’re not any more Indians in the pure sense of the word (when you hear indian you think about bow and arrow, forget about that), they’re "institutionalized", "modern". For those who do not know, a great number of Indians here in Brazil walk wearing feathers on the head, face paints, but drives a big ass PAJERO and makes money from precious stones mining. That's a loooooong talk and it's not my goal in this short article.
We fear headlines such as this:
“Amendments in Congress will inhibit the free practice of Mountaineering and Climbing”
"Director of Sumidouro Park promises to legalize rock climbing at Lapinha sector"
"Climbing: banned sport?"
"Federations manifest about the conditions of visitation of Itatiaia National Park"
We fear news like this and like so many others...did you get the picture? Will the colombians risk their lives against opium drug dealers and indians to climb those mountains? Simple, in Colombia, they not even try. Here in Brazil sometimes we hear about kidnappings of hikers in Pico da Neblina, but not beyond that. After a few weeks they free the hikers. Recently, Sarah Shourd (climber) was released in Iran after spending more than 400 days arrested accused of espionage, SPYING? The woman was climbing a mountain for fxxx sake!
Well, you guys do the math. I thought that Brazil was bad but when you think you are in a bad situation, a worse one shows up. Until recently I did not knew that about the colombian highest peaks, now i understand why there is no page for these mountains here at summitpost (at least i couldn’t find! Correct me if i’m wrong), probably no Sper climbed them.
Too bad...too bad.
External LinksA brazilian website to get mountains info, including gps files to download:http://www.rumos.net.br/rumos/
My youtube channel: www.youtube.com/parofes - Now with 250+ videos online!
The biggest brazilian website about climbing and mountaineering, for which I'm a columnist:
Global volcanism program (page about Huila volcano): http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/volcano.cfm?vnum=1501-05=
Photo gallery for the Huila volcano INGEOMINAS(4 years of records): http://intranet.ingeominas.gov.co/popayan/Fotograf%C3%ADas
News about the eruption of Huila: http://intranet.ingeominas.gov.co/popayan/Reporte_de_actividad_volc%C3%A1n_Nevado_del_Huila%2C_09_nov_2010%2C_6:00_p.m.