Crista de Zebro

Heading north from Sesimbra we stopped off at Nazaré to check out the surf scene – the world’s “biggest” waves, apparently and we were treated to 60 footers, and stumbled into competition in the World Surf League Big Wave Tour.

Onwards for a revisit to Reguengo do Fetal in much better weather than our last trip (it wasn’t raining!)

to climb on a couple of new (to us) sectors: Buda and Calhau (note that Buda is actually to the LEFT of Pia, not right as shown in the guide).

… But the highlight of the day was undoubtedly our encounter with two of the cutest crag dogs ever – a couple of seemingly feral (and very healthy looking) puppies who were content to enjoy the company on belay duty.

… providing we didn’t disturb their afternoon nap.

Heading further north towards the Serra d’Estrella, we managed to unearth another crag that doesn’t feature in the Portugal guide, but is well worth seeking out. Cristo de Zebro is a 40m high ridge of quartzite, tilted at a friendly 70 degrees and very well bolted, giving 15 routes from IV to 6b+, mostly V to 6a. Generally equipped to be done in 2 pitches you can easily run these together with an 80m rope and about 20 draws.

Easily spotted, it’s also easy to access. You turn off the main road onto a dirt track on the right as soon as you see the crag

and you’re greeted by a signpost and even a topo:

You can also download it, but here it is to save you searching:

The rock is excellent – plastered with holds, and the only complaint would be that the upper pitches especially could do with a bit more traffic to clear the lichen – somewhat reminiscent of Holyhead Mountain.

We worked our way through most of the routes over a couple of days. On our first day, despite being at almost 900m, the southerly aspect had us climbing shirtless in mid February.

To add to the convenience, there’s a handy van parking spot a few hundred metres away near a mobile phone mast.

Day 2 saw an impressive cloud inversion, with the crag drifting in and out of the clag.

Here’s Helen questing off into the gloom

Me in the sunshine on the arete of Passe Geodesico, 6a+

Helen on Xistos Doces, V

… and belaying down in the gloom (somewhere…) as viewed from the top of Medronho, 6b

Great spot!