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.
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.
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!
To many Macoa exists soley as a small blurb towards the end of their Lonely Planet Colombia guide. Though it occupys a small space in the guide books Macoa has a big heart that is more than worth your time should you choose to visit Colombia. Earlier this year Macoa suffered a catostrophic mud slide that killed more than 300 people. This tragedy unfortunately has repelled tourists in a time where tourism stands to benefit a community in need most. One can see from bridges the destruction wrot by the mighty mudslide. Cloths and parts of houses still sit along the rivers shore. A grim reminder of the power of mother nature. Many are saying the intense rains that triggered the mudslide are further proof of climate changes ability to intensify natural disasters. I am inclined to agree with this point of view and there are even some who say that local mining in the area has weekend the soil leading to the slide. That however, I will leave to real journalists.
Despite the horror of such a disaster life goes on. People are happy and welcoming and the nature is as beautiful as ever. I stayed at Hostel Dantayaco just outside of town next to El Fin Del Mundo. For starters the hostel was beautiful, hospitable, and attracted a good group of people. Both staff and guests were exceedling kind and you will have a great day adventuring or spending the day chilling in hammocks. Many tourists of all types visit the area. There are adventurers, bird watchers, and spiritualists all of which will expose you to knew ideas and a great time. Personally, my favorite part was venturing into El Fin Del Mundo. El Fin Del Mundo will cost you only 3,000 pesos to enter and will lead you to 3 separate waterfalls where you can cliff jump and swim to your jungle hearts content. To top it all off is the final waterfall which is incredibly high and has a spectacular view of the city of Macoa. Fin Del Mundo is far from the only hike in the area but was certainly the most memorable for me.
Dont skip Macoa. You wont regret it.
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.
If you are anything like me you loved Colombia so much you had to renew your visa after thirty days. I chose to cross the boarder with Ecuador and make a bit of a vacation out of it. And fortunately as always there is climbing. I began by taking the bus from Pasto to Quito, the capital of Ecuador.
Quito, the highest capital city on earth has a beautiful colonial side located in the old town and a more bumping nightlife to be found just outside. Located centrally, it is easy to get to the beach, mountains, or Amazon with just one bus!
There is plenty to see and to do in Quito. Visit the many churches and city square and visit the local market to get a full smash meal for just 2.50$. Oh yeah, they use USD in Ecuador which is nice and has an interesting story to it that can be learned by taking the free walking tour that’s leaves from the Community Hostel.
In addition to a cool cultural city Quito has quick access to some fun climbing spots. I met up with a guy from Mountain Project and we headed out to Sigsipamba.
Sigsipamba has a hand full of routes, most of them hard because they are overhung. Not only will you get nice and strong climbing here but it is shielded from the rain which was a god send because during my time in Quito it rained everyday. Sigsipamba is far from the only crag close to Quito but sadly it was the only one I had a chance to visit and I will hopefully adding the routes to MTN Project soon.