I’m not in the Peace Corps anymore!
There’s a good chance you already know this from the various other components of my fractured social media presence. But in case you don’t follow my other blog and Instagram… Surprise! Now I’m back in Quito and looking for a job. But more importantly, I’m back in Quito and climbing again!
If you follow me on *this* Instagram, you know I’ve found climbing partners pretty quickly here. That’s something I love about the climbing community — you’ve got friends no matter where you are. Quito’s climbers have been wonderfully welcoming to me, in spite of my stranger status and decidedly imperfect Spanish.
The thing is, I haven’t been super motivated to climb recently. I sent my first two V6es the week before Peace Corps staging, and then I didn’t climb for two months. It sucks to feel how weak I’ve gotten so soon after a milestone, and I’ve had trouble dragging myself to the gym ‘cause I know how much bruising my ego will take once I get there.
But I know that’s not the way to get strong again, so yesterday I gave myself the ultimate training motivation: I signed up for a comp at Campo 4, a sweet bouldering gym in central Quito. It’s this Saturday, and I plan to spend the next few days wrecking my body in hopes of rapidly returning to my previous level… Wish me luck!
In the meantime, I can tell you about the few crags I’ve been to here. There’s not much English-language info online about Ecua-crags, although if you speak Spanish, Monodedo has topos and there's a guidebook floating around somewhere. If you prefer to get your crag beta in English, I'll share with you what little I know:
This tiny sport crag is practically in Quito. I probably won’t bring visiting climber friends here, but it’s nice to know there’s something close by for a morning or afternoon session when plastic just won’t do. It was weird climbing so close to the city, looking out over the valley and breathing — mostly — fresh air.
How I Got There: We walked from the San Martín Ecovía stop, passing a big building on the right and then following a trail in the grass.
Type: Sport, toprope, maybe some bouldering if you trust the choss.
Number of Routes: 11
Grades: V to 6b+
Quality: Chossy, but it’s rock, and there’s some interesting movement. These routes are quite short, glorified highballs with a few bolts each. Still, you should bring a helmet because there’s a good amount of falling rock. This crag was nice for a fun morning outside and re-introducing myself to The Fear.
I have a feeling this is going to be one of my favorite crags. It’s about an hour from Quito, a single mass of beautiful rock towering over a tranquil little farm and its baby cows, rock climbing chickens, and fluffy puppies. I had so much fun, I forgot to be afraid.
How I Got There: We took a bus from Quito's Estación Río Coca to Pifo, then a $2 camioneta to the climbing. I don’t remember what the bus cost, but it was less than $2.
Fee?: $1.50 to the landowners/puppy caretakers.
Number of Routes: 31
Grades: V to 8b
Rock: Great. The smoothness and featuredness of the rock reminds me of Little River Canyon, which you may recall is my absolute favorite sport crag. Sand even gets on all your stuff like at the Canyon! Someone said the rock was andesite granite, but it feels very sandstone-y to me. Helmets are a good idea in case of falling rock.
This is the Quito area’s newest bouldering spot. It’s maybe an hour away, and the rock is unlike anything I’ve climbed on. Once I get a little stronger and adjust to the texture/style of this crag, I think I’ll fall in love pretty fast. There’s a river, a little waterfall, and a stellar view of el Volcán Cotopaxi.
How I Got There: In a car, and I didn’t pay attention. All I’m sure of is that we went through Sangolquí. I’ll pay more attention next time, or you can use the directions on Topos Ecuador.
Number of Problems: I’ll let you know when I know this.
Grades: I’ll let you know when I know this too!
Rock: Really, really cool. It’s essentially Cotopaxi’s dried-up lava barf. There’s a big variety in the rock features and texture — you’ll have a horribly polished block in one hand and a painfully porous crimp in the other. We only hit a few boulders, but I can’t wait to explore the rest.
These guys all know way more about Ecua-climbing than I do. So if you speak/read/Google-Translate Spanish, they’re def worth checking out when you start planning your trip to la Mitad del Mundo.