7am, Almada, snuggled up on the amputated wing of a giant polystyrene seagull with a panorama of Lisbon stretching out before me on the far side of the Rio Targus. The foam appendage of my new bird was doing a pretty good job staving off the cold, but I was still fucking freezing, and as we’d cleverly decided to kip on the north west face of a massive hill our sun-situation wasn’t going to improve for at least 5 hours. Didn’t matter though, the view of the 25 de Abril bridge and the fact we were stood on top of it 3 hours previously was plenty enough to keep me happy, and even with the pitiful amount snooze I’d managed to get thus far, I had a feeling it was going to be a pretty good day.
I’ve never really bothered much with stocks and shares, but I can tell you now with all honesty, that climbing international landmarks is one of the most solid investments you can hope to make.
Yeah, it’s long-tail, but every time you walk around a part of town you’ve hit up or see a city scape you’ve gotten intimate with pop up on an advert, movie or backdrop to some talking news-head, you’re rewarded with a trigger to awesome memories and a small helping of smugness. It’s like secretly banking little nuggets of satisfaction in the rest of the worlds’ photos and video, available for withdrawal whenever your eyes happen across them. Simply being able to think to yourself: “yep, I’ve been up there, and not many others have” is something that won’t decrease in value, get old and break, and will be a gift that keeps on giving until you’re boring your uninterested great grandkids to death with your stories of fantastic stupidity.
At 190m, the 25 de Abril is a pretty weighty contender. It gets a lot of comparisons to the Golden Gate because of its deep red/orange colour and is a similar sort of size, and while it’s not as famous as it’s American cousin, it’s a damn sight easier to climb. No cameras, no cages, no sensors, no razor wire. Just a constant stream of motorway traffic and your willing to do something your mother would probably disapprove of is all you really have to deal with to get it ticked. We’d somehow managed to smuggle 6 scaff hooks through airport security so the health and safety department were happy, the only question really was if someone was going to see us and ring the dibble.
Thankfully, the draconian standards of the UK fun police don’t really extend to these parts, proven by example in 2007 when Alain Robert got away with a 120 euro fine for free soloing one of the vertical cables in the middle of the day, so we managed to convince ourselves that us going up with climbing tackle last thing at night would probably have just earned us a stern bollocking from a coffee addled night-shifting desk sergeant,
We’d decided to hit the bridge first job to give us a bit of a shit-creek paddling margin if we ended up being nabbed, and so straight from the airport we arrived at Jesus hill overlooking our runway to the top of the city and made our way into a hidden spot next to the carriageway, ready to jump out and jog to the cable as soon as we got a break in the traffic.
It’s important in situations like this to move quickly, but smoothly. If you start flapping about like a fat kid on sports day you’re going to draw attention to yourself from people that wouldn’t have noticed you and suspicion from the ones that do, so with visions of the dreaded blue lights or being on the receiving end of a cheeky 60mph backhand from an articulated lorry we emerged from the bushes and went for a walk down the motorway, up a ladder, and 120m up the suspension cables to the top of the bridge to register another deposit in the bank of look-at-me.
The next couple of days were spent chilling in the sun, running around the metro, supping local ale, sleeping in colonial mansions and knocking off targets of opportunity. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is the equivalent of 8k:
<3 to dicky and dan for another sterling weekender.
hoo rah bitches.