Raising almost 400 meters above the harbor, the beautiful mountain has dozens of climbing routes across all levels of difficulty. Its sweeping views of the city, forests and the sea make climbing Sugarloaf the quintessential Rio de Janeiro climbing experience. Among Sugarloaf's routes are some of the best-known and most historic climbs of all of Brazil. You don't need to have previous rock climbing experience to climb Sugarloaf, as there are mixed hiking / climbing options suitable for first-time climbers

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Routes for first-time and beginner climbers

For those that have never climbed before, the best option to reach the top of Sugarloaf is the route Costão. The Costão is a steep trail on the east face of the mountain, with one vertical pitch of rock climbing. It is a fantastic first rock climbing experience for those that have never climbed before

Another option for those with little or no rock climbing experience are the beginner-level multi-pitch routes also on the east face of Sugarloaf. These include Bohemia Gelada (5.6/3+, 230 meters), Heineken (5.5/3, 210 meters) and Chaminé Pão de Açúcar (5.6/3+, 220 meters). Unlike Costão, these routes require the participant climber to learn and execute the basic multi-pitch climbing safety procedures. They also require a greater comfort level with height. All the routes lead to the summit, either directly or by linking up with the Costão trail, and generally take about 3 to 5 hours to complete

For advanced beginners, the best route is Coringa (5.7/4, 100 meters) on the south face of Sugarloaf. For being accessible, well-protected and located on a vertical wall close to the sea, it is also the most popular route on Sugarloaf, overall! Coringa is divided into three pitches of consistent difficulty, with one pitch being almost vertical. As most routes in Rio de Janeiro, Coringa demands precise footwork on small holds as well as familiarity with smearing on granite. After completing the route, you can link up to the Costão trail, which you can follow to either descend or to continue to the summit. If you do go to the summit, the overall climb will take between 3 and 5 hours to complete

Finally, a different option for those that are physically fit, very comfortable with heights and well-versed in multi-pitch safety procedures is CEPI (220 meters), a via ferrata (steel cable line) that goes up the west face of Sugarloaf. It does not require much technical rock climbing ability, however, for passing over vertical and slightly overhanging rock, it does demand a lot of stamina! The sense of height and exposure are quite pronounced on CEPI, so it is important to be well accustomed to these factors

Routes for intermediate to advanced climbers

Amongst intermediate-level experienced climbers, the most sought-after route is Via dos Italianos (5.10a/5+, 95 meters). Italianos is a consistent, three-pitch climb on the west face of Sugarloaf, directly below the line of the Sugarloaf cable car. Its technical style of climbing, relying heavily on precise footwork of smearing and edging on small holds, representes well the dominant style in Rio de Janeiro. Once at the top of Italianos, climbers have the option to rappel down or to continue to the summit, either by linking up to CEPI (via ferrata) or linking up to Secundo. When climbed with Secundo, the route has a total extension of 260 meters, typically climbed in 8 pitches of which the first two are the most challenging. Italianos com Secundo is one of the most well-known rock climbing experiences of Rio de Janeiro and is frequently an important objective for new local climbers

For those that are interested in a similar but even more challenging climb, the west face of Sugarloaf offers additional options, two of the best being Cisco Kid (5.11b/6c, 230 meters) and Pássaros de Fogo (5.11a/6b+, 180 meters). Just like Italianos com Secundo, these routes present spectacular views over Morro da Urca, Praia Vermelha, Praia de Botafogo and the Guanabara Bay

A different option for experienced climbers is Chaminé Stop (5.7/4, 230 meters), a route located on the south side of the mountain and extending to the summit almost entirely in chimney style. Established in 1944, Chaminé Stop was the first true rock climbing route on Sugarloaf. It is one of the best preparatory climbs for those that are planning to climb Dedo de Deus or Agulha do Diabo, mountains in the remote regions of the state whose normal routes make heavy use of the chimney climbing style

Finally, the longest and most challenging routes of the Sugarloaf are located on the north face of the mountain. Here, the most frequented routes are Secundo (5.11a/6b+, 290 meters) and Waldo (5.11/6b+, 330 meters) both of which vary in style along their pitches and require a lot of versatility of the climbers

Planning your climb

Given the high temperatures in Rio de Janeiro, especially in the summer season (December to February), it is important to plan your climb according to the hours when your chosen route is in the shade. As such, routes on the east face (e.g., Costão, Bohemia Gelada, Heineken) are best climbed in the late afternoon while routes on the west face (e.g., Italianos, Cisco Kid, Pássaros de Fogo) are best climbed early in the morning. Routes on the north face are best climbed only in the winter months, especially if the climbers are not accustomed to climbing in high temperatures or climb slowly. If climbed in the summer, it is best to start as early as possible. Climbing on the south face (e.g., Coringa) is best either early in the morning or late in the afternoon

Getting to the base of any of the routes requires some trail walking, generally between 30 and 60 minutes leaving from the square at Praia Vermelha. For any of the routes that end at the summit, the return is by cable car (free of charge) to Morro da Urca, the smaller of the two peaks in the Sugarloaf complex. From Morro da Urca, there is a short trail walk to get down to the street level. Climbers that arrive at Morro da Urca after 7.30pm also have the option to take a second cable car free of charge to return to the ground

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