Rock climbing at Mesa De Los Santos, Colombia

Colombia has some excellent rock climbing if you now where to look. Vibrant communities have sprung up around the emerging sport. I saw pictures of Mesa de los Santos and immediately wanted to go there. It is a lowkey crag in the north central part of the country with beautiful red rock and sweeping valley views.

We stayed at Refugio la Roca, a purpose built climbing hostel. There weren’t a lot of other guests at the climbing hostel when we arrived. At times it felt like we had our own private crag, and indeed the cliffs are on private property. There is an attendant that checks everyone out before they enter to make sure they know the ropes. Valerie, as a beginner, was almost not allowed to enter. I had to take additional tests and demonstrate increased knowledge to take responsibility for her at all times. I had to demonstrate anchor building with 2 and 3 bolts and explain how to escape the belay (in spanish). Then the attendant assumed a more relaxed vibe and gave us all the advice we needed.

A group from Colorado was visiting. Among them was a 5.14 climber. We watched him climb projects for the first time and repeat lines that had probably only seen one or two ascents. Our group, which consisted of Valerie, a brother and sister from germany, and me, was content climbing some 5.9’s and a couple of 5.10s.

The deep red cliffs have eroded at uneven rates. The lower portion of the climbs were often overhanging, despite having an easy grade. A 5.7 route might start with a few 5.10 moves.

At some point the German girl fell at the start of a climb. I caught her, preventing her from tumbling down a steep slope. Unfortunately, my leg got pinned between her and a boulder, saving her a lot of pain, but I got a massive bruise, on top of already having a sprained ankle. That ended my climbing for this visit. Luckily Mesa de los santos is a beautiful, quiet, and serene place to pass the time and we spent a couple more days just soaking in the atmosphere. I’d go back in a heartbeat.

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Scott Dusek is a writer and photography originally from Seattle, Washingon.

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