Tag Archives: colombia

Valle De Los Halcones

 


Once upon a time when I started this trip I was like a lone wolf, bounding across the meadows and mountains.. Then I met Karli, and we were two misfit wolves driving across the desert and mountains. Then Chris and Nicole came along, and we were a pack of wolves looking for bad ass climbs….

Knowing the Suesca main crag would be busy We decided to concentrate a weekend on the Valle De Los Halcones. According to the guidebook the land was private and all the bolts on the area had been cut off by the land owner due to climbers making a mess. Fortunately for us an American and another English lad, Jason and Sam, were living in Suesca and said we could park at their house right on the edge of the valley and they knew the land owners. They invited us to talk to them and after a brief few minutes of talking Chris had made it clear we would be careful and take everything out we brought in. The owner permitted us to enter the valley for 2000COP each (about 60cent each or 40p).

We grabbed our packs and headed over the rise into the valley. It felt nice to have a short walk in again. Despite going running most mornings including this one the small rise had me breathing hard. It could have been the pack of climbing gear and a 6 litre bottle of water and the 9000ft elevation, but hard work felt hard.

Entering the valley was like entering a lost world. Crazy knowing a mile away were hundreds of people climbing on top of each other. We walked around a while and found a big slab worthy of a play. All the bolts had been cut or removed so we ran a rope to a boulder further back and set up a top rope for the morning.

The start of the problem was hard. Real hard. First I tried, then Chris, then Karli, we all failed. The crimps were too small and shoes just weren’t holding. Nicole came next and some kind of witchcraft happened, she just cruised to a higher point. But was again stumped. The line was hard. Not being dismayed we all took a turn overcoming the hard part with some aid and climbed higher. The top 2/3rds of the boulder were awesome. Small crimps combined with good footholds and a couple of flake holds leaving a dyno to the top for a rounded edge.

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We took it in turns going for the top. I took the chance while not on the rope to run around to the top and lean over to get these shots.

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sequence of climbing to falling. quite cool I think

After a while and getting the whole sequence linked we moved further down the valley to relax while climbing up and down some vertical/slightly overhanging but easy crag. At the end of the day we were all pretty beat and cold and headed back to town for 60cent beers and soup.

With thanks to Das_Karlo, Burritocharmer and Olas_y_montanas.Screenshot 2017-12-06 at 8.31.50 AM

Being Wild

While visiting anywhere there is always somebody trying to get money. In Suesca it was in the form of a local standing at the roadside asking for money for where we were parked, when we enquired about camping he asked for 30,000COP , about 10USD. This might seem reasonable but to prolong travelling, free is always better. We drove up the far side of the valley to a small disused quarry where the local farmer said we were welcome to stay. Once there we deployed the tarp to gather rain water and save more money, look at that majestic water gathering machine. Jealous ain’t you!?. Saved 70cent in the days water bill right there.

 

This place has also given us spectacular evening lightning shows. Consistently on the other side of the valley which is reassuring as we camp on top of a vehicle with great lightning rods poking out in all directions. Its incredibly humbling each time there is a strike that looks like it will destroy any tree building or structure in the way. It puts us in our place.

 

Back down in the valley eating costs little. 3 dollars can buy two people a decent meal consisting of a couple bowls of soup, a plate full of rice, chicken, plantain, salad and fries, and a couple of fresh fruit drinks. add evening meals cooked ourselves for 3-4 dollar and daily living is cheapIMG_20171122_140246.jpg

Add to it one of my favourite outdoor stores (decathlon) is down the road in Bogata selling low cost outdoor wear and equipment for any sport and the cost of living compared to Central America seems to have halved. My reccomendation to anybody travelling who likes the outdoors is skip central and get to South America!!

Anyhow, bye for now 🙂

Trad Climbing in Suesca, Colombia

So. In prep for some bigger mountains, I’ve started teaching Karli how to trad. She can sport climb already, so its been quite good progress, the past week has been spent around Suesca, Colombia. Camping at around 9400ft which is a nice gentle bit of acclimatisation for Cocuy National Park. We have been running and climbing each day. By that, I mean climbing some, and thinking of running; then not.

Ive been teaching Karli how to place gear, build anchors and safely rappel. She led her first multi pitch, approx 250ft, a good solid 5.7 (American grade) with some interesting features- 35meters up an interesting clean corner, a 15meter run out on a traverse without any protection, and a nice steep 40 meter corner to climb with bomber protection. A great fun route .

 

We have been camping up the hill on the far side of the valley, in an old dissused quarry big enough to hide the car from weather with great views back the way too, nice sunsets, lightning storms and best of all its free.

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top of route after Karli’s first multi pitch route and lead.
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top of another three pitch route
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coiling rope after a good day out
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the end of the traverse before going straight up.

The weather has held up great and we have been ticking lots of simple routes. Below is a picture of Karli gasing the wildlife with arms raised, poor squirrels, didn’t know what hit em’. Lunch has been from a local restaurant costing about 3 dollars to feed and water both of us with soup, and a plate full of chicken and rice and veg and fresh juice. The roof tent has been building a nice sweaty climbing shoe aroma after a week of not washing. We are back in Bogota for a weekend off before another week or so of climbing in Suesca and running in the evenings before the ambition grows. After the restrictiveness of Central America nearly sending me crazy with cabin/car fever being confined by rain, high entrance fees and every local sticking out a hand wanting money, South America is starting to become really good fun and re-establish why we are on this trip.