The Mirror is probably the most impressive seacliff in Portugal, and ranks somewhere high up the all-corners list – it’s a stunning bit of rock. We had a shufty from a distance on our last visit…
… and with Jim along as a willing accomplice I had the opportunity to explore at closer quarters.
Jutting out into the Atlantic on the north coast of Cabo San Vicente, about 500m from the Faro do Cabo lighthouse that marks the South West tip of Europe, The Mirror is a 60m-high diamond-shaped slab of smooth rock, with about 10 routes (a mixture of sport and trad) of about 45m. It’s similar in scale and grandeur to Wen Slab.
It sits opposite the island of Pedra das Gavotas, which you might imagine would provide some shelter from the Atlantic rollers, but actually seems to funnel them into greater fury, as we discovered! Here are the GPS coordinates for the rap point (a couple of very nice shiny bolts next to a rusted bit of chain which serves as a reminder to chip into the bolt fund!
I abbed down to the tiny belay ledge which is the starting point for most of the routes, beneath the mid-height roof and around 15m above the swell. It’s an atmospheric spot (and a bit austere before the sun comes onto the crag at around 1pm)
… with the frothing torment of swirling water beneath providing a mesmerising spectacle with accompanying cacophony. I’d only been there a few minutes when the first wave broke level with the stance, but I consoled myself that the steep wall below was providing shelter from an actual wetting.
As Jim and I were carefully flaking ropes a few minutes later, a freak wave snuck round the other side of the island (no doubt the fault of a butterfly’s wing flap on the other side of the ocean) and broke about 5m above our heads! I got a good splashing and the crag was now significantly damper. Time to get out of here…
I set off up Montezuma, 6a, leaving Jim wishing me a heartfelt speedy climb…
It’s probably more accurate to call it bolt-protected rather than a sports route, as with 10 bolts in 45m it certainly has an adventurous feel. The climbing is absorbing and sustained without being desperate, with flaky holds offering positive if occasionally fragile-looking holds. Jim managed to avoid any further soaking and we were soon drying out and basking in the sun on the top.
Back down for Silent Running, 6b, with the arrival of the sun making for a much more comfortable belay and prompting a cheerful selfie (albeit with one eye on the lookout for the next big wave!)
Similar climbing but with a notable crux pulling through a bulging section around half height on some tiny crimps (English 5c/6a?) but they’ve thrown in an extra bolt to take the sting out of it.
Great views of the big rollers crashing into the zawn that contains the Armacao Nova crags.
Celebrations later at a great little restaurant, Oliveirinha. Unpretentious and with a really friendly owner, the shark and prawns was an absolute feast!