History of Brazilian mountaineering (southern mostly)

History of Brazilian mountaineering (southern mostly)

Page Type Page Type: Article
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing, Toprope, Bouldering, Ice Climbing, Big Wall, Mixed, Scrambling


For better view use 19" or bigger monitor!
Some time ago I wrote this about the 2010 edition of the Mountain dinner in Curitiba, Paraná state, Brazil: “What can I say about the dinner? It was the best and I feel sorrow and Pedro too at every ten minutes because we left the cameras in his place, no pictures! About 400 people, all related to mountaineering, Andes, climbing and marumbinismo (People who climb the famous mountain in southern Brazil called Marumbi). Sensational! The air was breathed by all in common and with the same feeling, and I dare say that not only I but everyone present there enjoyed the dinner in an atmosphere different from people who normally only see each other on rock climbing, trail hiking or ice climbing. I found it really majestic. The food was not good but nobody cared about it. Breathing all that experience exchange was incredible! Certainly i'll be in the next edition of the dinner!

Photos: 1st: Waldemar Niclevicz, Pedro Hauck and me. 2nd: Me, Raul Friedmann, Nelson Penteado (Farofa) and Pedro Hauck. 3rd: Lilianne and me. 4th: The dinner!

The thing is, I wasn’t lying! I went again this year, 39th edition of the “Mountain Dinner". This time I was not alone, Lilianne, my future wife was with me. We flew from Sao Paulo last 13th to Curitiba. Pedro picked us up at the airport and we all got ready to the big event. We got to Cascatinha restaurant around 19:30h and it was almost full already! Once again, a lot of people knew me and I didn’t knew them hehehe. That happens all the time with www.altamontanha.com writers, we got friendly and known faces hehehe. But, at the same time, I saw several friends I missed a great deal the last year. The reason is obvious, I got a pretty much busy time from jan2010 to jan2011, three expeditions. Andes from jan to mar 2010, Europe from jun2010 to jul2010 and Ecuador at jan2011. Quite busy! It was fantastic to see friendly faces from brazilian mountaineering, it always is.

I also saw some known brazilian climbers as well, book authors and the most renowned brazilian altitude climber, Waldemar Niclevicz. I finally meet Elcio Douglas, the fastest brazilian to reach the summit of Aconcagua with only peanuts, chocolate bars and no jackets for cold weather, not even a stove! He had never been at high altitude like that before, never steped on Mendoza before and was told that “altitude changes everything”. Well, he said “I was hot so I didn’t used jacket”. Tent? Just to Plaza de Mulas, after that no tent at all. He summited Aconcagua at the third day. 3rd day! No guides, no porters, no nothing.

Elcio Douglas, summit of Aconcagua (6962m) wearing just a t-shirt. "I felt hot" he said._________ Waldemar Niclevicz and his inseparable friend and partner Irivan Burda. 8 out of 14 8000ers.

Vitor Negrete, the legend._______________________________________ Pedro Hauck and Maximo Kausch at the summit of Pomerape volcano, 2002. Sajama on the back.

Pedro Hauck, summit of Tupungato volcano, 2003 (Photo by Maximo). _______Carlos Santalena and Carlos Canellas, Everest summit, may 2011.
Along with Maximo Kausch, the only ones to summit the volcano that year.

Short video of the dinner, 2011 edition:

Well, after the dinner I decided to write this article about the History of brazilian mountaineering so people can see YES, BRASIL ISN’T JUST CARNIVAL, GREAT ASSES AND FOOTBALL, THEY ARE MOUNTAINEERS TOO!
So, I’ll use a very, very good text produced by Pedro Hauck, Editor of www.altamontanha.com and my friend, to show you guys a little bit of our History:

Pedro’s text

Some places in the country, as the city of Rio de Janeiro, is sufficiently close to the mountains which supports the hypothesis that there may have been climbs in the mountains before 1879, that was the year Joaquim Miranda, also called Carmeliano, climbed Marumbi In Paraná state for the first time. This is considered the first ascent of brazilian mountaineering.

Marumbi group. Gorgeous mountain!

Old brazilian mountain gear!Old mountaineering gear. Back in the day!

In the Andes, before the Europeans, there was a tradition of climbing mountains, which also creates doubt on the pioneering work of Gabriel Paccard and Jacques Balmat, who climbed Mont Blanc in France in 1785, fact known as the beginning of mountaineering at the whole world. That's because many mummies and archaeological sites, some over 6000 meters of altitude, attest to the ancestry of the traditions of climbing mountains in South America. The difference, however, is the reason to do so. While the Amerindian people climbed mountains for religious reasons, the Europeans climbed for sport, so it’s right to say the European pioneering and defined the beginning of the mountaineering around the world. The same happened in Brazil.

In the year 1879, the country was still under the regime of the monarchy and had a sense of the elite in "westernized" Brazil according to native customs and of slaves. Thus, there are no reports of indigenous climbing mountains in Brazil, which makes the experience from Parana the oldest mention of an expedition that summited a mountain 100% for mountaineering reasons. Because of this experience, the highest peak of Marumbi Sierra was named Mount Olympus, in tribute to its conqueror.

the oldest photographic registerPhotographic register of Marumbi Group from 19th century!
Important people from the Marumbi History Important people, the race for the summit of Marumbi.
The first brazilian mountaineerThe man: Joaquim Olimpo de Miranda

At the time of the first Marumbi climbing, mountaineering was very popular in Europe, allowing us to interpret that this was a motivation for the conquest of the mountain there, another reason was the use of the land itself, since one year after the conquest it began the construction of the railroad Curitiba - Paranaguá.

Mountain climbing became popular in Marumbi. Carmeliano became a popular character in Morretes, a little town at the foot of the mountain. He returned to Marumbi dozens of times, always carrying someone important. It is said that several people participated in the adventure, even presidents of the province, which demonstrates the popularity and cultural significance of mountain climbing. Carmeliano continued climbing Marumbi until the year 1902, the same year a woman climbed the mountain for the first time.

These ascents were done using rudimentary techniques, often prioritizing only paths that would provide an ascent that does not need hands to climb. This changed in 1912, a group led by a Teresópolis simple man climbed the God’s finger (Dedo de Deus), the mountain in the Serra do Mar of Rio de Janeiro that was considered unclimbable at the time.

Some foreign expeditions had already come to Brazil to try to climb the mountain without success. Thus, José Teixeira Guimarães, Raul Carneiro Acacio and his brothers, Alexander and Américo Oliveira, using tools manufactured by them own and without technical mountaineering skills, were able to summit God's Finger, that is considered as the first technical climb on Brazilian territory.

Later, in 1919, was founded in Rio de Janeiro the first mountaineering club in the country, Centro Excursionista Brasileiro (CEB). Mountain-like symbol was chosen as the God’s finger, which even today stands at the center of the emblem. In 1926, the club launched its first issue devoted to the dissemination of the sport – O Excursionista - later transformed into a internal newsletter. The Rio de Janeiro and Paraná State then became the two poles of the cultural development of mountaineering in Brazil.

While in Rio mountaineering found fertile ground on its favorable topography of Sierras and mountain ranges, Paraná state concentrated in Marumbi the center of attention for the activity, mainly due to the easier access because of the railroad.

From the 1920s began a movement to explore Marumbi that was gradually resulting in the achievement of all its peaks: Giant Sphinx, Ponta do Tigre, Abrolhos and Tower Bells. After the discovery of the passages between the ridges, came the era of technical climbing, using mostly natural lines, such as cracks and chimneys. Was very important in the development of these achievements, the techniques brought from Europe by Austrian immigrant Erwin grog, that teaching mountaineering was nicknamed "Professor."

Another enthusiastic person who contributed enormously, not only in winning the Marumbi mountains, but throughout the Coast Range, was the son of German immigrants Rudolf Stamm. He was the largest developer of mountaineering from the 1940s to 1950s, at the time climb Marumbi became so popular in the mountaineering of Curitiba/ Parana that people started to call it "Marumbinismo”. By that time, the Circulo de Montanhistas de Curitiba, CMC, was created. Rudolf Stamm was also the first man ever to climb Paraná Peak, the highest mountain north of Serra do Mar as seen from Curitiba, attracted the attention of the German geographer Reinhard Maack, father of Geography in Paraná.

Maack had on his resume extensive experience as explorer and adventurer in Brazil, as in Africa, thought that mountain to the north could be higher than the Olympus, at the time considered the highest peak of Parana. He embarked on an expedition to the mountain, being assisted by Rudolf Stamm and Alfred Mysing, who were renowned “marumbinistas” and who were the first to climb the mountain ridge that Maack found to be the highest in the state and southern Brazil.

This chapter also highlights the degree of altruism of the mountaineers, showing that the adventure was also motivation for the development of scientific research, a chapter in which the history of mountaineering and geography were mixed, which happened several times, even with the German prince Alexander Von Humboldt, the father of modern geography who climbed Chimborazo in Ecuador, which in the nineteenth century was regarded as the highest mountain in the world.

To have the idea of the importance of Maack at the international geoscientific comunity, he was one of the forerunners of the theory of continental drift, many years before his official mentor, geologist Alfred Wegener. Hence the significance of the experiences of Maack in the mountains of Paraná and Namibia for the entire scientific matters.

A note worthy of passage was how immigrants or children of European and Japanese immigrants found in mountaineering a manifestation of their culture in Brazilian soil.

Before the outbreak of World War II, the Germans who climbed all the weekends in Marumbi, sang during the ascent of the Sierra Nazi songs that echoed in the dark of the train wagons. Despite the political nature of the songs, these people did this as an act of appreciation of their culture since they had no relationship to the party or the Nazi ideal. However, with the entry of Brazil in the war, many of them suffered persecution and Marumbi became a haven for them even more.

The culture of mountaineering is based on two pillars: the adventure and freedom. Often some of these pillars have lost support in the history of Brazil, especially the second. In these cases, the mountain has become a escape point for young people. This happened, for example, during the military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. At this time there was a breakthrough in technical mountaineering, we can say that happened the evolution of contemporary climbing. Despite an apolitical movement, mountaineering became more popular because of the evocation of freedom it emanates.

Mountains as Marumbi were places where repression was not enough and it was not uncommon for people to confuse liberty with libertinism, even at the time of sex drugs and rock and roll. Some curious episodes showed that the authorities viewed with suspicion the wanderings of some climbers. That's what happened with Jean Pierre Von der Weid, who during a conquest at the brazilian state of Espirito Santo aroused the curiosity of a police officer, who found his activity subversive and demanded that the climber went to the station to clarify what was that about "escalation." (climbing).

Even after the end of the dictatorship, the mountain also attracts attention from people for its call for freedom, which, as already said, was often confused with libertinism. In this context, many young people end up climbing mountains more accessible to use drugs, drink and do stupid things. This gave rise to in modern times called "farofeiros" (in english that would be kinda like “drug addict assholes false mountaineers which btw don’t respect wildlife and nature), which are people who end up climbing mountains without identify themselves with the culture of mountaineering.

But ultimately, is the culture of mountaineering popular in Brazil?

As we have seen, it is older than football here in Brazil, but did not spread in the same way in the country. In some places it is much more recent and unrecognized, in others, is already considered an asset, part of the state history, such as in Rio de Janeiro. There may be more or less some 10.000 people who identify with the culture of mountaineering in Brazil and practice frequently. Very little considering that Brazil has more than 180 million inhabitants.

But why mountaineering finds it difficulties to grow up? I believe it is because of its very nature. Climbing mountains is not an easy thing and not all people have physical and psychological conditions for the task.

Another problem is that it's not everywhere that there are mountains nearby, although I think in Brazil there are many favorable sites. It is a lie that there is no mountains in the country (who says it does not know the geomorphology of Brazil). I also think another problem that hinders the development of mountaineering is the current historical moment that humanity is facing, a time marked by the environmental crisis.

As everyone know, the mountains have preserved, in a certain way, its unique landscape features, because they were a “wall” to economic development and occupation. Therefore, mountain areas have become the last open spaces within the space transformed by modern society, which further increases the need for conservation of these sites. The new problem is an exaggeration of nature protection policy, a policy that sees man's presence in the natural environment a bad thing, which is a problem because many mountains now are historically frequented by man. This landscape use, in a way, created the culture of mountaineering.

Direct and indirect bans threat freedom and especially the adventure of mountaineering, destroying the two central pillars of this culture centuries old. We have reached a moment of great advances in techniques, equipment and product achievements. Looking back, mountaineering ways of Carmeliano Teixeira sounds like funny and primitive...Despite this development, I still think that it is necessary for maturation of climbers they realize their actions and recognize the mountain not only as a tool for personal advancement, focusing not only on sports performance, but also its role in that conflicted scenario.

Final Considerations

Well, the whole article is focused on southern Brazilian Mountaineering. That's the reason i didn't put here way more data i could have, such as brazilian first ascents around the globe, famous strong brazilian climbers such as Vitor Negrete (First brazilian ever to summit Everest along with Waldemar Niclevicz, unfortunately died on the way down due to pulmonary and cerebral edema; first brazilian to climb along with Rodrigo Rainieri the south face of Aconcagua; first brazilian along with Rodrigo Ranieri to climb the normal route of Aconcagua at winter), Waldemar Niclevicz himself with eight 8000m summits, Carlos Santalena (just summited Everest a few weeks ago), the youngest brazilian ever to do so, 24 years old at the time.

As i said, if i put here something about everyone that deserves to be in here, the page would be enormous. This article represents just a tiny little peace of brazilian mountaineering.

Southern mostly? Why? I'll explain: It is known here in Brazil an old dispute between Paraná state and Rio de Janeiro state for the title of "pioneers of the brazilian mountaineering". The south claims the Historic ascent of Marumbi back in 1879 (which never used actual climbing skills, just hiking), and cariocas from Rio claims the first with technical rock climbing, including several chimneys, Dedo de Deus (or God's Finger - 1.692m) back in 1912. People can really debate on that matter. I say it doesn't matter at all, let's climb something! But, History must be told and if you guys ask me what is my position on this subject, i'll make it clear: I think that how you got there doesn't matter. The important thing is, the objective was the very same, summit some mountain. That been said, i should clarify that i think the first brazilian mountaineer activity was the 1879 Mount Olympus Ascent, period. And i'm a carioca! (Carioca= born in Rio de Janeiro).

Mountaineers from Paraná can reveal themselves to be fantastic ones. The trails down there are much more demanding, too many tree roots, too many traverses NOT well marked, too much sun and hot during the day, too much cold during the night. Some of the strongest brazilian climbers come from the southern region. For instance: Waldemar Niclevicz, Irivan Burda, Elcio Douglas, Julio Fiori, and many many more...

Mount Olympus (Marumbi)?_______________________Or God's Finger?

Curitiba - THE Land: Some of the best brazilian mountaineering spots

After a hike or a climb in Paraná, you can enjoy the city itself. The cold weather and the good cousine make it a great place to know a little bit of Brazil!

To see some of the traditional mountaineering clubs from Paraná, access:
> http://www.cpmorg.com.br/: Clube Paranaense de Montanhismo
> http://nasnuvensmontanhismo.com.br/: Associação Nas Nuvens Montanhismo

To see some of the best places in Curitiba to practice mountaineering, access: Ibitiraquire Sierra SP page
To see the mountain group that started the whole thing here at Brazil, access: Marumbi Group SP page

Legal Issues

To hike/ climb is a dangerous activity and requires proper equipment and clothing, the owner of this page cannot be blamed by injuries caused to anyone who read this page for its info about the mountain, and eventually got hurt by doing so with reckless behaviour or bad weather conditions.

Paulo Roberto Felipe Schmidt – AKA: PAROFES


Giants of Ibitiraquire
Marumbi Group
Culture of brazilian mountaineering
6 years without Vitor Negrete
Elcio Douglas is the man!

External Links

A 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:


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-10 of 10
Alex Wood

Alex Wood - May 20, 2011 2:29 am - Voted 10/10

Very Cool

nice article! Thanks for all of the effort!


PAROFES - May 20, 2011 9:41 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Very Cool


A few hours after i published this one i was thinking with myself "man, that should be a lot bigger with tons of more info!".
But after dinner i decided not to. There's a Historian (just like me) that writes something to our website (www.altamontanha.com), Rodrigo Peron. He's doing a damn fine job taking care of the register of all brazilian adventures on Himalayas.
And my friend, i have to say, it is really good, so far it has 14 parts (i think). BIG!
And it is a full time never ending job...


EricChu - May 20, 2011 7:06 pm - Voted 10/10

Excellent article!

I really admire how professionally you've been researching and how well and really interesting you write! This is a very valuable contribution to SP you posted, with a lot of information I don't think one would find on many other pages on the site! Congratulations, Paulo!
Many cheers,


PAROFES - May 20, 2011 7:12 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Excellent article!

Thank you so much Eric!
Well i think people must know Brazil isn't just samba, great asses, carnival and the damn football...we are more than that!
Yeah i did some research but as i said to Alex, this could be a lot, i mean A LOT bigger hehehe.
Thanks again for reading and voting for it!


rpc - May 23, 2011 12:51 pm - Voted 10/10


Informative, funny (you know the bit about asses & football :), and inspiring (that Finger Of God formation!!!)

Thanks for writing it up Paulo!


PAROFES - May 23, 2011 1:10 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Excellent!

Yeah i know all about that hehehe
Don't get me wrong, i loooove big asses just as much as any guy, but unfortunatelly Brazil does attracts a lot of people looking for sexual tourism, that's too bad...
And football, well...shame! I really don't like it!
About God's Finger, it is an impressive mountain even for such small altitude (1692m), when you look at it from nearby you can't help it and you end up saying: "Fuck me that's a gorgeous rock formation!!!" hehehe
YOU should climb it. I will probably this year hehehe
Glad you like it R!


Inday - May 30, 2011 7:12 pm - Voted 10/10

Miss you!

Parofes! Glad to see your staying busy! Great article, thanks for the history and the update. I just got back from a climbing trip, doing some sport in the Red River Gorge of Kentucky. I just found a new cliff face not too far from my house in MD actually, so who knows, I may be posting some first ascents this summer!


PAROFES - May 31, 2011 4:05 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Miss you!

Dude whazzzuuuppp?
Good news, i got a new job so yes, i've been pretty busy but not hiking or climbing, actually working my ass off.
But, in the other hand, it is a great job (i'm administrative and financial manager for a big school here in São Paulo) so the money is good. And that means i can plan a good expedition for 2012. Maybe Denali can become possible for me. It all depends on many things and another possible expedition, even more challenging.
You should upload more photos here, trip reports, rock climbing routes which i know you're more into it. Anyway...
Good to hear from you man!


kamil - Jun 28, 2011 9:18 am - Voted 10/10

very nicely written

I love stories of exploration, pioneers and first ascents, and you showed us just that. And all this from a part of the world less known for mountaineering than e.g. Himalayas, Andes or Alps. Perhaps in Brazil there still are peaks awaiting their FA's? Maybe you can find some for yourself?
One day I'll write an article about one forgotten corner of my continent where, despite my very limited time, I try to pursue my private "Project Unclimbed Europe". But it's too early now, I first climb a peak and only then write home about it :)


PAROFES - Jun 29, 2011 11:31 am - Hasn't voted

Re: very nicely written

Hello again Kamil!
I love stories too! That's why i wrote this one with the help of Pedro.
Here in Brazil there is tons of peaks waiting for its FA. Look at this photo, all of them unclimbed: http://www.summitpost.org/unnamed-virgin-peaks/725034/c-615856
Waiting to see your text hehe

Viewing: 1-10 of 10