Back to Climbing

We arrived in Suesca after a slow ride over a couple of passes from Villa de Leyva. An extra 6000ft of climbing, but relatively easy and broken up with an overnight stay beside a railway line with a curious cow for company. I had mixed feelings about Suesca this time. We have been here a week and climbed a few routes. Nerves have been getting the better of me. Though most the trad has been 5.6 (US Grade) and like walking up a staircase, the harder routes i didn’t lead (5.10+) felt real hard. I supposed due to training on a bicycle in the states instead of climbing for 6 months I am now like a heavy legged small armed tyrannosaurus , but slightly fatter.  One favourite route from last time we were here used to have a large undercut hold 15 foot off the ground. Now it lacks that hold and a large rucksack sized block of sandstone sits at the bottom of the crag, which in turn as it fell, has loosened a couple more holds, slightly nerving. This day also unleashed rain as we were finishing climbing, with lightning striking the top of the crag repeatedly with supersonic booms. We had been talking about taking a shower at some point and Suesca gave us a cold one in style.

After letting the rope dry a day or two we went out with the aim of climbing more technical routes and work on crack climbing ability, something I really don’t do well. A local guide having a day off joined us and introduced us to a slightly overhanging crack he lead and with a fun technical crux I fell off repeatedly. Its always nice to have someone push you on a route you wouldn’t have otherwise climbed and encourage technique.   My body feels pretty beat up now.

Along the way even in the first thousand mile we have been passing some brilliant national parks we would loved to have visited. But, the limitations on them put us off. With an increase in outdoor users creating more wear parks like Cocuuy have been closed almost permanently. This park used to have a one week hiking trail through beautiful paramo and alpine environments. Now it is limited to two half day hike for which you have to pay a park entry fee, have a guide and purchase insurance. This isn’t quite our style of park. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta rises from sea level to 17,000ft. But is virtually closed to tourists, there are a few trails for multi day hikes with a couple of local companies (including trips to the lost city Ciudad Perdida ), but the general consensus is it climbing peaks can’t be down without the help from the locals and the indigenous people who are suspicious of outsiders. They control the trails and the area has also been the point of ‘tourist taxes/kidnappings with gorilla groups. Though the problem is for the main part over, we decided to skip it with the aim of bigger mountains down the line with free access. Seeing how parks are ran in different countries does give me a real appreciation of the free park access back in the UK. I think the U.S. national park system giving back country users very cheap access is brilliant, and the free National forest system even more so. I guess in countries with a newly evolving outdoor scene are going to have a rougher start, but is good they are trying to control damage.

Over the past week my sleeping bag has been loosing feathers at quite a high rate. The little nicks and cuts I have neglected for so long showing white blossom each morning. The corners of the tent looking like a fox made it into the coop. My efforts to re-stuff the fluff back in are futile and yet- I haven’t dug through the bags for the repair tape we have hauled since we began. I think today might be the day I repair it, but then again, I could just climb instead?

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