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Climbing in South & Central America
12:10:41 AM
I'm planning a trip to South America (and possibly Central) later this year and early next year, and would like to do some climbing there. I will probably spend most of my time in Columbia, Brazil and Bolivia, possibly Peru, and maybe Mexico. It's all a bit up in the air. I realise there are climbing options there but can anyone recommend anywhere that is particularly worthwhile, where it's easy to meet other climbers? I'll probably take a rope and some draws.


6:59:49 AM
Sonnie Trotter recently returned from Mexico and warned people it was very unstable and maybe best to stay away until things calm down a little. :
It was an adventure to say the least, but even more, an experience. We probably should not have gone, we were warned about the dangers multiple times, and after being there, I suggest any interested climbers wait for the green light, there is a lot of chaos going on right now, and nobody can predict how the drug wars will unfold. I wonít be going back for QUITE some time.

In the end however, we didnít get shot, we saw some guns, yes, and some marijuana fields, but all in all the folk we met were kind, hospitable and interactive.

7:15:57 AM
On 16/04/2010 ajfclark wrote:
>Sonnie Trotter recently returned from Mexico and warned people it was very
>unstable and maybe best to stay away ...

I think there is parts of mexico that are a no go, and parts that are fine.
8:37:11 AM
Northern Mexico definately has a dodgy vibe. The further south you go the more relaxed it gets.

11:14:47 PM
Thanks for the info.

What about climbing or hiking in Columbia or Bolivia?
9:39:05 AM
For walking check out John and Cathy Biggar's "The Andes: a Trekking Guide". It has Bolivian and Colombian chapters (and more), and is quite good.

Also check out Lonely Planet's "Trekking in the Central Andes" -- which is probably a good first call for general trekking, but if you have a bit of experience you might find their times / grades a bit soft. This has chapters for Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador -- but not Colombia.

If mountaineering then Yossi Brain's "Bolivia: A Climbing Guide" (but not rockclimbing).
10:29:41 PM
El Portrero Chico is totally awesome. Was there in Jan 08 and it was fine. The locals are super friendly and even the Americanos are okay. Spent 10 days in Mexico City and felt totally safe the whole time. On the other hand turning up at Cuzco bus station at 3.00am was not much fun and not very safe. Having just spent a year in Vancouver before going to South America I can tell you I at no time felt more scared in South America than I did walking down Hasting St, Vancouver at sunset. If you want to see the frontline of the drug problem this is it. Anyway off topic.
Bouldering on the altiplano in Bolivia at 4500m is supposed to be amazing. Can't remember the name but you will find it on internet.
10:39:22 PM
We went to Chile, Peru, Argentina and Bolivia in 2006.

We did lots of bushwalking and no climbing. Having said that there was climbing around in some of the areas siuch as in Patagonia (Chilean) and in Peru. The Patagonian climbing looked great. Obviously mountaineering in these places too.

I think you said something about bushwallking - it was great in all these places. Awesome. Chile was particularly good in terms of varied landscape - think glaciers down south with untouched bush and mountains in the background and in the north high altitude deserts with snow-covered volcanos as a backdrop. The middle has more volcanos but bamboo forests and lakes.

Chile and Argentina were easy to get around and safe (fairly good economies with all that brings in terms of fairly reliable and clean buses etc). Peru and Bolivia were a bit more dodgy but okay if you show a bit of good sense. Less reliable for travel. The people were all pretty friendly.

Not sure if your "up in the air" stuff is just finances or not sure about the destinations. Chile was easy to get around and would not be a big shock to the system if you have not travelled much. The downside (if it is your finances) is that it costs more than your listed destinations. It is not too bad but the accomodation options in some places, such as Patagonia are limited (but you can camp which is cheaper though only right next to fairly pricey backpacker and even better and pricier accomodation with beer and food for you to stare at).

Lastly, Qantas used to allow you to fly to Chile on a round the world trip and include the sector flights down to town closest to Patagonia. I assume they still do.
11:04:45 PM
Late response I know - but thanks for the info guys - very useful.

I am now going to spend most of my time in Columbia and Bolivia (so less up in the air) will do some trekking/hiking in both those places but I heard there was a place in Columbia north(?) of Bogota where you can climb and there's a climbers' hostel. I will be solo so hopefully it's easy to meet people to climb with. Anyone know anything about this?

Re flights - I am getting a round the world and it looks as though it's going to be cheaper to fly to LA and then get a side flight to Bogota via Miami. As soon as you go to places like Bogota or La Paz on a round the world ticket, the prices can go through the roof.

7:16:35 AM
Don't know if this is the place you were thinking of, but a friend was there a while ago and wrote this piece about it

more photos:
12:59:25 PM
also, "mesa de los santos" near san gil. It has much better sport climbing than suesca.
1:46:16 PM
Suesca is a great place to climb. There is a climber's hostel that is more like a beautiful house 5 min walk from the cliff. Enjoy the cheap and delicious vegetables you can buy on your walk back from the cliff.

La Mesa de los Santos (in La Mojarra) is much closer to Bucaramanga than San Gil. The sport climbing there is fantastic. Juan Carlos ( runs an amazing climbers hostel there called Cosmos Ecoturismo de Aventura - which you can lookup on facebook. It is in a remote rural area overlooking an amazing canyon. The cliff packed with a well concentrated 80+ climbs is 100m away! He'll be able to help you out with directions, travel hints, and contacts to the climber's hostel in Suesca.

The landcape in Colombia is incredible, and the people are even better. The local climbers in Suesca and La Mojarra will be friendly, helpful, and are always psyched to climb.

Also, there is good climbing (trad and sport) around Cuenca, Ecudor. Check out the monodedo website or just visit the gear shop for beta when in Cuenca. The Cuenca locals are also great.

In Peru, the climbing is around Huaraz. For Argentina, in and around Bariloche is where it is at ! The Enchanted Valley is one of the best climbing areas I have ever been to, and I have been to a lot of great climbing areas.

Have fun.

2:01:54 PM
There is supposed to be a fantastic new area that has been developed on the Altiplano in Argentina, which has a huge potential for sport climbing and bouldering. The area is close to the foot of the volcano Tuzgle. I've seen one photo and it does look amazing.
1:13:11 AM
Thanks guys - all very useful info - particularly on Columbia. Any tips for elsewhere to climb in Columbia or Bolivia would be appreciated. : )
10:48:40 AM
Just got back from 6 months in South America.

So we didn't do an exceptional amount of climbing but here is what we found:

Suesca near Bogota is good for trad, but nothing world class in my opinion. There are heaps of multipitch climbs there and some sport (pretty run-out bolting though).

La Mesa de los Santos (in La Mojarra) is one of the most awesome sport cliffs ever. The cliff comes into the shade after 11 am which is perfect because it gets pretty hot and the bolting is really good.

Be warned if you go to do any climbing at sea level in Columbia, it is unbariable hot.

The most climbing options are in the cordillera blanca near Huaraz. There is a sport climbing area called Hatun Machay. The argentian bloke that has set up the area reckons its the next ton sai, but he is bloody dreaming. However there are some good climbs. We were there in the rainy season, which majorly sucked. The rock was so cold our hands were so numb we could barely climb. The area is also at altitude (4300m) which made climbing interesting.

There are supposed to be granite cliffs to trad climb in the area. I think a very well known climb there is called the Sphinx.

Haven't heard of much climbing in Bolivia. If there are an sport areas I'd be cautious of there bolts. The well known bouldering area is called Valle de la roca. This area is in the Solar de Uyuni and hence is very dry and at altitude.

One of the most beautiful places on the planet - Cochamo Valley. Its a real mission getting into the place but its described as the Yosemite of South America. Huge granite cliffs surround the valley, there are waterfalls everywhere and a beautiful river running down the middle. An american guy, Daniel, has setup a refugio and has a website that has plenty of info on the area. The area does get a lot of rain so climbing is best Jan-Mar.

The area around Bariloche has many climbing options. Frey, a bit of a walk from town, is beautiful and has heaps of trad climbing on smallish granite spires. The place gets a lot of snow so climbing there is also best Jan-Mar.

Have a great time over there and don't miss the rafting near San Gil, was awesome on some class 5 rivers.
1:48:35 AM
Great - really useful - thanks muchly.
10:16:23 AM
What about hikes and treks (and any other activities for that matter) for recommendation? I am going to get some literature but any tips would be appreciated. I will have about a month and will be there in Jan and Feb next year.


8:55:43 AM
We spent a month in Patagonia in January doing the more popular tracks, 3 nights around Fitzroy, 8 nights around Torres del Paine (grand circuit), Nahuel Huapi (Frey). One piece of advice I would offer is that if you only (yep I mean only) have a month then allow sufficient time for connections. Bus trips can be epically slow for the distance covered (like 8 hours to get from El Calafate to Puerto Natales which is 400 km or so, four hours from Calafate to Chalten which is 250 km), and if you are down south you will be there is peak season which means you may have to plan/book a few days in advance. Well worth it down there. Dare I say that if you go to the less popular areas then you would possibly have to allow more time.

There are 18 messages in this topic.


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