It wasn’t the first time that Seb Grieve, Grant Farquhar and I had boarded a long haul flight without knowing whether or not we would find any climbing the other end. It was Tim Emmett’s crazy idea to go to Colombia, except this time he had ducked out at the last minute and left us to go it alone. Needless to say, there were concerns about kidnapping and drug cartels, but our worries were unfounded. We were very fortunate, on arrival in Bogota, to be scooped up, and saved by our generous hosts, Carolina Rodriguez and Viviana Gomez. They drove us out to the local sandstone crags of Suesca and Macheta where we found a delightful mix of sport and trad routes, most of which completely stopped us in our tracks! The Colombian climbing scene was way more developed than we had expected, and we soon realized that we wouldnít need to put up new routes to find a challenge. We had enough on our plates trying to follow Vivi up her warm-up routes!
The highlight of the trip was a thirteen-hour journey through the foothills of the Andes to a breathtakingly positioned escarpment called ‘La Mesa de los Santos’. As far as we were aware, we were the first Westerners to visit this sandstone climbing paradise, which is as good as anything the States or Australia has to offer. We stayed in a delightful ‘Eco-lodge’ that had been built by local activist, Juan Carlos Santander. By night we feasted on his delicious cooking and by day we devoured some of his premium bolted routes ranging from F6a up to 7c+. With only a few days to spend in this magical location, we were forced, reluctantly, to leave the harder offerings such as the mighty El Espanol 8b, for another day. We finished up back at Macheta where I was chuffed to snatch a repeat of the local test piece, El Mago 8a+, before the inevitable wild last-night party. I canít think of another country Iíve found as hard to leave, and a re-match with Colombia seems inevitable.