After much brooding and handwringing I finally made it happen, I found my way to New Zealand. Though long, the flight was pleasant especially landing in the city of Christ Church on such a gorgeous blue bird day. I met up with my buddy who had been working out of Queenstown as part of a working holiday. It had been two years since I had seen Christian but I could sense that the Honda Odyssey with two surfboards on the roof was his, or the sense was brought on by the delirium of the ridiculously intense sunlight of NZ because of the hole in the ozone layer (bring sun screen folks!).
Christian getting the wing up in Christchurch
After exchanging pleasantries and an introduction to his girlfriend Marie we headed first to a rugby game (I had no idea what was going on the whole game). After finishing a few errands about town we headed up to Mt Somers to do some climbing and stay in a back country hut. One of the many beauties of New Zealand is its backcountry hut system. Gone are the days of fumbling with a tent in the backcountry with the plentiful amount of huts spread across the country. In order to incentivize hunting to reduce invasive specie populations like deer and Tahr the NZ department of conservation has built backcountry huts that await hunters, hikers & climbers with beds, fireplaces and the usual deck of cards for a game of shit head. All for a nominal fee or flash of a 6-12 month hut pass.
Mt Somers is home to a hut located next to the Pinnicals climbing area. After a 4 hours hike to the hut lugging all our gear and food we arrived sweaty but rewarded with stellar views of waterfalls and Jurrasic park esc foliage. Armed with a bit of beta from Climb NZ (MTN Project for NZ) we took a stab at the crag just 10 minutes away. We happened on the 3 pitch Rocky Road (5.10c).
Depending on the site you trust pitch 2 can be rappelled with a 70m rope where as mtn project says it needs two ropes to wrap down if you need to bail. We trusted the Climb NZ beta but it felt awfully high at the top of pitch two and I am glad we made it up the whole climb so we did not have to solve the mystery of how long of a rope was actually needed to bail. The climb it self was great! Super balancy and run out making each venture to the next bolt a moment of intense focus as a fall would lead to a considerable ride for an intermediate sport climber. The grippy plentiful feet go all the way to the top where we were greeted with a horrible old bolt belay for pitch 2 and rusty rap chains atop pitch 3 that utilized a piece of metal that I had seen to hold together a childs swing set. Sufficient to say I was not excited about the wrap off the back on the sketchy chain but it all worked well enough. The next day we spent doing a few of the shorter routes which were fun but not exceptional. More than anything the location and the trad climbing is the star of this crag, with an additional sense of adventure coming from the hut experience.
View of Mt Cook on the way to Dunedin
Weather rolled in so we decided to continue our journey south towards the beautiful city of Dunedin. Dunedin is probably the coziest of the “big” cities on the south island. A university town located right on the water gives the town a sense of quaintness while still maintaining a busy downtown area. Just outside of Dunedin is a little crag called Long Beach. While not a paradise in numbers it surly is paradise in terms of pleasantness. Short basalt cliffs line the mostly empty beach that will lead to a good pump and some inspiring one move wonder climbs. The style and frequency of climbs feels a lot like Black Rocks in St. George, Utah. After climbing a few pitches we took a break and wandered over to the penguin cave next door to spy a couple of the cute critters hiding out in a hole beside the cave. And just like that the day was over. Walking the beautiful beach back to the car during sunset is a joy seldom experienced in my climbing career and was so good we went back the next day for more climbing action.
Long Beach Climbing
While both of these crags were a good deal of fun they are both small crags. In future posts ill talk about some of the bigger locations like Wanaka, Castle Hill, and Milford. Till then enjoy a few photos!
Hut life in South Temple
When out traveling it is easy to rationalize that while you miss home you are likely putting it on a pedestal and the feelings of comfort, joy, and excitement you get from the thought will slowly fade after the first week of being home. Much like the scene from 500 Days of Summer where expectations and realities are juxtaposed next to one another and the realities are lack luster at best, coming home can feel the same. I however, am a lucky man… The luckiest man on earth I would even say. I have been back home in Utah for two months now and leave for New Zealand tomorrow and I am still excited and amazed by Utah’s beauty each and everyday. I had the good fortune to finally climb the 22 pitch 5.11 monster that is Squaw Struck with my climbing partner Michael (A goal of mine that has been on the table for years), trips to Joes Valley, and endless amounts of fun during a tour of Utah’s National parks with a former guide buddy of mine.
City of Rocks – Idaho
Joes Valley – Utah
Having lived in Utah nearly all my life I like to think I have a reasonable grasp on the opportunities and cool activities in the area. Theoretically this is true but I did not really believe it till I went on my road trip through Goblin Valley, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zion. We started our trip in Goblin near the Swell where we did some rappelling and Canyoning before moving on to the Cottonwood Wash outside Capitol Reef. Most people when they visit Utah look only at the National Parks and miss out on much of what makes Utah truly amazing… its National Forrests and State Parks. On the incredible drive from Capitol reef to Bryce through Escalante you will encounter incredible views and months worth of Canyoning and hiking opportunities all with virtually none of the crowds common in the National Parks (cough Zion cough).
Ding and Dang – The Swell
There is not much more to say other than I love this state and I love my home and while I am excited to head to New Zealand. This will not be the last you hear about Utah.
190ft Arch Rap
Angels Landing – Zion
Potentially a California Condor (someone correct me) atop Angels Landing
Kolob Canyon – Zion
My motivation to continue updating this blog and website has fallen dramatically. The plan was to continue to update the site in Spanish and write about crag in the United States. It goes without saying that the motivation to continue practicing Spanish in a written sense is minimal and updating the website with info on USA crags is pretty much pointless because there is such a wealth of information on Mountain Project. That being said it appears that the website is still helpful to many as it still gets a reasonable amount of views and I get emails and comments from time to time from people looking for help. My plans are as follows; keep the website up with all the information for Colombia and continue responding to comments and emails to help people climb in the amazing country that is Colombia. I am headed to New Zealand in Novemeber and there is not that much info on Mountain Project with regard to NZ so maybe I will start updating again when I go there.
Till then here are some photos from the climbing I have been doing back home in the American West. I have been lucky enough to hit up Joes, City of Rocks, Smith Rock, Tahoe, and all my favorite local crags and hoping to complete the 22pitch 5.11- Squaw Struck in the coming weeks. Till then here are some photos from my adventures back home.
Last weekend I was looking for the easiest way to get to the La Calera boulders in hopes that I could do some pebble wrestling. During my search I encountered some videos of people boulder in a place called Las Moyas located behind Bogota with trail access from Rosales.
The hike was steep and maybe not the best approach for people trying to get a quick bouldering session in but from what I could tell there is a much easier approach from the La Calera side. I was excpecting there to be other boulders up there but when I arrived there was nobody. I asked the police if it was ok if I climbed the rocks and used chalk and they said it was all good and enjoyed watching me boulder for an hour or so.
Despite having seen videos of people climbing in Las Moyas I saw no sign of bouldering routes, chalk or otherwise. Which is strange because with a little bit of work this could be a fun little bouldering spot as the holds are great allowing for countless V0-V3 opportunities. That being said the holds need to be cleaned a bit but with time and work it could be something special. I worked a couple of routes all with sit starts with two of them being reasonably fun. I will upload the boulder problems to MTN Project sooner than later. Until then here are some fotos of the bounding possibilities.
Additionally information about hiking in he area can be found at the Amigos Del Montaña website
I finally snapped. The endless pressure and bubbling anxiety from my CELTA course had reached its peak. It was time to climb.
My friend Sergio invited me to climb in a small pueblo about two hours out from Bogota and promised big overhangs, guacas (jugs), and hard as hell climbs. He delivered on all three.
Machete is the Spinal Tap of climbing crags in Colombia. Where Spinal Tap’s amps go to 11 Macheta starts there. There are more than 50 routes in the zone where the lowest grade I saw was a 10c that was as hard as an 11a. In Macheta even the 10’s are 11’s. The rock is steap and overhung and perfect for people who want to warm up on a 12 and project 13’s. AKA not for people like me. That being said if you are a climber looking to push grade this is the place for you.
At the bottom of the crag is a small hostel where you can get a cheap bed and you might even be fed some delicious sancocho soup after a long hard day. If you have the time to stop by and are a reasonably strong climbing you will have a blast on the rock and with the locals!
I will update the website soon with info on getting there and a list of routes. Till then, choa.
I have spent 10 months with my crimson colored backpackbuddy and the love is as strong as ever. I purchased my Farpoint for my trip from Mexico to Colombia because of its ability to be stored as carry on and because of my experience with other Osprey bags. Little did I know I got far more than what I paid for.
The Farpoint is a 40 liter bag which allows you to stow it as carry on most flights. The material is strong, zippers tough and have holes to allow owners to lock pockets with padlocks when you arrive at the hostel or leave the bag at the beach. It’s been 10 months now and I feel that I can carry more than most people do with their 60liter bags. People are always amazed the Farpoint has brought me from Mexico to Colombia. The bag has the best of both worlds as it can be opened like a suitcase making access to cloths and toiletries easy unlike top loaded bags. As you can see from the featured image I was able to fit a harness, 2 pairs of climbing shoes, chacos, pants, puffy, 3 pairs of shorts, jacket, shirts, journal, and other essentials no problems. I can not stress how strong this bag is. It survived countless chicken bus rides, 3 months of use while I was a hiking and climbing guide in Guatemala, endless rain and motorcycle rides in Colombia and even a visit to a glacier. In all this time there are only very small tears in the bag but it has not compromised the integrity yet.
When I see packpakers lugging around 80liter bags filled with garbage they never use I feel grateful that I have such a tiny bag. It forces you to only take the essentials with you (though I have still managed to fit plenty of gifts for friends inside). Like I said, 40liters is more than enough for the typical backpacker. Additionally the bag is small and makes you look less like a tourist trudging through town with a bag on your back bigger than you are and a bag on your front that screams “please rob me”.
Though the shoulder straps can be a bit uncomfortable if you walk with it for multiple day camping trips (which the bag is NOT designed for but I did anyway while guiding) this is the best bag I have ever owned and can’t recommend it enough.
The very first area I added to Mountain Project was an area just outside of Bogota called Zipa. At the time I added the location I was unfortunately unable to add the climbs and photos. Recently however, I had a shot at redemption with a return to the wonderfully tranquil and overhanging jug zone that is Zipa. Covered in vegitation that looks like mother natures beard Zipa has no shortage of great climbs. Additionally, I was happy to see that other people (Federico Echevery) have started adding climbs and I am no longer alone in the quest to add routes to this local. If you are looking to do some climbing I highly recommend the area but more than anything I am happy to see that other people are adding climbs making MTN Project of use in Colombia!
A video of walking through Colombia and Ecuador. I will hopefully getting some climbing done next week!
Baños is located a short bus ride from Quito and should only take 3 hours. Baños is the perfect place to continue your journey as it is similar to San Gil Colombia in that it is a place for outdoor activities.
Located along a stunning river Baños is an absolute treat to walk around. After walking around town chances are you will be hungry for some real Ecuadorian grin. I recommend going to the Mercado in the center of the city where you can get a huge lunch for 2.50$ or a fresh squeezed juice for just a buck. Or if you are a little more adventurous try some of the local guinea pig delecacy.
The town is littered with travel agency’s touting EXTREME activities which feels annoying when really they just rent bikes and organize tours that even your mom could get along on. That being said probably the most popular activity in Baños is the rafting. For 25$ (including lunch) this is an absolute steal. The rapids are reasonable but considering you could not get someone to drive you to the mouth of the river in the USA for 25$ this is a no brainer. Not only is it cheap but it is an absolute blast!
Unfortunately I was unable to do any climbing during my time in Baños. However, there is plenty to be had behind the Zoo. If you have equipment just ask for thfor Zoo and you will find some sport routes. Additionally, it is worth it to hike up to Casa De Árbol for a stunning view and a good time swinging!
After a long day rafting, climbing, or hiking it is worth visiting one of the many hot springs in town. The spring located under the main waterfall in town is open at night and has varying temperatures that left me feeling rejuvenated for the following day.