Vinales, Cuba 2018
“Escalar? Escalar la roca?”
Roberto went back inside to use the phone. Within five minutes, the local climber guy appeared in the back yard. Much to my surprise he was fluent in English.
He said that if the weather looks ok tomorrow, he’ll take me to the valley for a climb.
It’s humid in the Viñales valley, and a recent tropical storm turned the tobacco farms into mud pools.
Attempting my first ever outdoor climb on actual rock in humid conditions was sobering. Something about Adrian Perez, his big smile and calm attitude made me feel more confident I’m not going to die on a rock in Cuba. I was just hoping that the gear is in better shape than the roads…it was! and Ardrian knew the routes by heart, so he yelled instructions at me as I tried to settle my Elvis knees, ignore the mozzies, and breath in the Cuban country side.
The transition from bouldering in a gym without a rope to climbing an actual rock, needing to trust a piece of rope and a random Cuban guy, activated regions in my brain I wasn’t aware of.
Much more attention was given to the journey, the assessment of all the risk elements – from choosing less physically demanding routes, to understanding the types of bolts used and technique (generally “top rope” which is much safer than lead climbing and trad climbing but you need someone experienced to build the anchor at the top. Adrian is that guy).
The soundtrack of surrounding tobacco fields and mango groves made it all extra special.
The evening was spent with Roberto over a bottle of his home made rum and cigars he makes from the tobacco he grows in the farm. The language barrier seem to be lifting as the rum was pouring.
Breakfast had fresh mangos from his tree.
Viñales, Cuba 2018