When documentary filmmakers and explorers Fernanda Lupo and Márcio Bortolusso presented their unlikely goal just over a year ago, few believed they would be able to do something so grandiose and risky.
Mega challenge never before dared by any adventurer, for twelve months and more than twenty thousand kilometers, from the Amazon to the south of Brazil, the extraordinary project “6 Hard Xpeditions” was a scientific-exploratory journey truly extreme and with an innovative format on the world stage. Part of an even greater challenge that will be realized from 2020 to 2021 and against the “Outdoor market” by avoiding media clichés intended for the general public – such as the already massed Everest, Seven Summits, diving with sharks, etc. – according to important journalists, advertisers and athletes, was one of the greatest and most extreme multi-sport expeditions ever held.
Normally expeditions are not performed in sequence. When they return from a great endeavour, adventurers need months or even years to leave again, due to the numerous logistical procedures (training, research, authorizations, etc.) and the high risk, cost and physical and psychological wear and tear. In addition, generally each explorer has a unique specialty, such as a climber that concentrates only on mountaineering techniques or a paddler that is limited to some mode in sea or rapids.
Impressively, in addition to this couple have a rare multisports expertise, with extensive knowledge in several quite complex activities – Cave Diving, Sea Kayaking, Big Wall Climbing, Ultramarathon, Canyoning, Stand Up Paddle, etc. – after six years of meticulous preparation and arduous training Fernanda and Márcio successfully have done six extreme and pioneering expeditions practically in sequence. Detail, dispensed support teams and shippers, adopted routes considered impossible, during the challenges used only human traction and did not take breaks, boycotted guides and pack animals, faced constant dangerous situations, among other daring minimalist choices.
With singular energy, courage and technical ability, the duo lived countless experiences of suffering and pleasure, confined for weeks in some of the most dangerous terrain of the Brazilian mountaineering or in complex navigations crossing fearsome areas even by the Armed Forces, hanging on cliffs for many days in arduous turns of up to 24 hours, hoping not to be hit by huge rocks that fell, dragging up to 170 kilos of cargo, running hundreds of kilometers with 15 kilos in the back, being hurled against sharp walls during refluxes in underwater sea caves, paddling against strong winds and currents, wallowing in muddy waters infested with snakes and alligators and overnight in areas with the highest concentration of jaguars in Brazil, punished with large bruises and severe injuries, bearing thermal sensations from -10 to +45 ºC, suffering with thirst or sipping water from unhealthy ponds, frightened by buffalo or sneaky alligators, hunters and night gunslingers.
And what is even more incredible, as is common in their explorations, while fighting against extreme fatigue and to stay alive, with the support of entities such as SOS Mata Atlântica and Brazilian Society of Speleology (SBE) still developed valuable research and environmental actions with unprecedented discoveries, as unpublished inventories of species, caves and springs and chemical analyzes of the water quality of streams, rivers and seas of endangered paradisiacal areas.
KNOW WHAT THE SIX EXTREME CHALLENGES OF THE COUPLE
It all began with the demanding climb of the imposing southwest face of the “Pico Sem Nome” (Nameless Peak), one of the most impressive and isolated mountains of the extensive Mantiqueira Range, one of the last of Brazil with long rocky slopes with more than two thousand meters of altitude that remained without climbing routes. In total, there were 22 days of tension and martyrdom alongside climbers Kelvyn Medeiros and Diego Moreira.
In sequence They went into remote labyrinths of the largest fluvial-maritime archipelago in the planet and carried out one of the hardest kayak expeditions ever undertaken in Amazonian rivers, under strong tension in the “worst pirate zone in Brazil” – hundreds of kilometres connecting rivers separated by isolated springs obstructed by dense vegetation, paddling against powerful currents or even running dozens of miles under scorching sun.
Without taking a breath, they undertook one of the largest waterfalls explorations in the world, which resulted in the largest mountain descent in Brazil (~ 1,900 meters of unevenness), exploring for the first time the Neblina Waterfall, one of the highest and most beautiful waterfalls in Latin America that became “the highest Brazilian waterfall” (almost 450 meters). After identifying the highest springs of one of the most important river basins of the Southeast of Brazil, with the reinforcement of the canyoneers Anor Sassaron and Juliano Hojah they fought a struggle for survival, being dragged by seven vertiginous kilometers, realizing dozens of rappeling with 120 kilos of cargo, under sharp and unstable stone blocks that destroyed their resistant ropes.
In one of the most complex and dangerous outdoor activities and with the support of diver João Andreoli They began the first inventory of underwater caves of a Brazilian archipelago. In difficult access points of Ilhabela Archipelago, they explored, recorded and mapped cavities for cataloging in the National Caves Registry, sometimes under heavy reflux in narrow passages, working with their cameras, measuring tapes, clipboards and reels with a few meters of visibility (even with lanterns) and shaking between sharp walls that resulted in broken equipment, bruises or hedgehog spines through the body.
From Ilhabela the couple set off for an exhaustive ultramarathon of about 240 kilometers – 90% on soft sand – traveling all along the Uruguayan ocean coast, from Brazil to the border with Argentina – running with 15 kilos in the back, for endless dunes sizzling and without the usual aid in competitions – route signaling, water and food stands, doctors, accommodation with bathrooms, awards or other runners to motivate them. They had agreed that “even in the face of the worst incident one of the two would have to complete this expedition.” Therefore, after a severe injury neutralize Fernanda, despite the difficulties (twisted ankle, nails were about to fall, knee locking, etc.) Márcio bravely completed more of this pioneering feat.
Without losing their motivation they performed one of the most insane SUP crossings ever made, treading for 16 days hundreds of kilometers of one of the most beautiful, isolated and biodiversity-rich regions of Brazil, crossing unexplored labyrinths formed by thousands of islands and canals, through the night, dragging heavy cargo through treacherous and almost impenetrable forests and mangroves, devoured by thousands of mosquitoes in long sleepless nights over an unstable tent armed on their SUP boards, awakening every half hour for fear of being swept away by the high tide, and so on.
DO NOT MISS THE DOCUMENTARY AND OTHER ACTIONS OF THE COUPLE
With complex and costly logistics, the 6 Hard Xpeditions project became a reality thanks to the trust of its sponsors Duracell, LG, Gore-tex and Brazil Kirin and dozens of supporters who collaborated with the viability of around 300 equipment and services, besides to courses and training ranging from Wilderness First Aid, night diving and in caves to the unusual sessions of apnea loading stones on the seabed.
Seemingly insane, the unprecedented journey of this unusual couple has yielded countless stories filled with strong emotions, experienced by the richest cultures and in some of the wildest regions of Brazil – they spotted whales and isolated flocks of primates, paddled among otters and dozens of dolphins, swimming in rivers filled with alligators and piranhas, they crossed colonies of sea lions and even a small shark, they were impressed with footprints of jaguars and rare birds like a beautiful specimen of toucan not cataloged by science.
Fernanda and Márcio have finally returned to their safe harbour in Ilhabela archipelago and soon promise to present their joys and misadventures in a web series, in lectures, in their social networks and in a documentary.
To know more about this magical and unforgettable adventure, go to www.6HardXpeditions.com and register in your profiles and channels.