Climbing in Colombia
We asked Eric Gomez to tell us about the Climbing in Colombia and what he loves about the area.
Q: What is special about this area?
A: The climbing in Colombia is special because climbing is a relatively new sport. So if you’re a climber here, you’re part of something new and part of something that will someday be big (as evidenced in the rest of the world). It is also special because of how different the crags are – not just the type of rock or style, but the environment and the culture of the locals. Colombia is a country divided in three by the Andes. Because of this separation, and how hard it was in olden times to travel, Colombia has areas with very different cultures and accents. Traveling to new places and getting to know them all while practicing the best sport in the world is too enjoyable.
Q: What is the style of climbing in this area?
A: You can find all sorts of styles… from slopey to crimpy and from slab to roof.
Q: What type of rock is in this area?
Q: What types of climbing are there?
A: Sports, traditional, bouldering, …Colombia is a big country and there are a lot of open crags and even more potential. So the country has all three types of climbing, but there is less developed bouldering than there is trad and sport. I have a theory about that: we don’t have any great indoor lead walls, so when we get outside we’re always itching to do some leading. But that’s just a theory.
Q: What crags/sections are your favorites – and why?
A: My favorite crags in Colombia are Machetá and La Mojarra, for different reasons. Machetá has pretty perfect weather – fall-type all year – and if it rains, its long, sustained overhangs let you climb all day no matter what. It’s also a really great place for a challenge. Machetá has an incredibly high concentration of hard climbs. There are a number of 5.10’s and 5.11’s and the rest is 5.12 and up. To sum it up Machetá is one of my favorite crags because of one word: overhangs. Now, La Mojarra is considered to be Colombia’s best crag by a lot of people. It has seen immense development by locals and has all types of climbing. This is one of my favorite spots because of the whole experience being there: the quality sandstone, the overhangs, the slabs, the cracks, the weather, and even the hostal where we stay.
Q: What things are there to see or do on rest-days?
A: Well, it would be hard to list things to see or do on rest days from climbing since there’s climbing all over Colombia, but I’ll list a few things for each of the crags I’ve been to. (When in doubt, going to the closest little town is always fun).
Q: What you recommend?
A: If you go to Suesca, Sutatausa, or Zipaquira, you can visit La Magola to eat Pandeyucas and drink Masato (a drink made of fermented rice), check out Alpina to go eat great food and picnic, or participate in any of the other outdoor sports Suesca has to offer.
If you go to Machetá, you’ll have fun visiting the Sisga Dam. There’s a restaurant by the water where you can eat great typical Colombian food. If you’re into active rest days, you can bike around the dam… just remember it’s not an easy ride!
There’s lots to do around La Mojarra. You can visit the small town of La Mesa de los Santos or the big city of Bucaramanga. There’s also numerous waterholes to relax in, and then there’s the wonderful Chicamocha canyon to feast your eyes upon.
Q: What time of the year is best for climbing there?
A: Since Colombia is so near the equator, we have no seasons. If the weather is hot, it’s always hot. If the weather is warm, it’s always warms. And if it’s cold, it’s always cold. There is no best time of the year to climb, just an ideal place for each individual. For example La Mojarra has warm weather. I love climbing in La Mojarra because of that. Most of my friends prefer cooler weather, though, so they prefer climbing at higher altitudes where the weather is cooler, such as Machetá.
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