About 60km north of Bogota lies Colombia's rock climbing capitol, Suesca. A friend and fellow roamer, Dasha, organized a trip out the last Saturday for a group of us to have a guided rock climbing session.
The town was tiny and a backpacker haven. We arrived and sat down in a cafe attached to a hostel to have a much needed Americano before finding the shop that would lead our tour.
Our guides were Freddy and Robin. While Freddy's English was excellent, we had fun exchanging language lessons with Robin. They led us behind the shop where the large cliff-like rock started and stretched on as far as the eye could see. We stopped at what Freddy told us was a beginner route (5.1, or the easiest level of difficulty in rock climbing). Freddy free climbed to the top and set ropes up for us for 2 different routes. The four of us took turns climbing each route and were soon ready for something more challenging.
We walked along abandoned railroad tracks and passed other groups of climbers who were set up on different sections of rock. We got to the second set we would climb and our guides set up 2 more routes for us. The one on the right was definitely more challenging than the other two we had climbed, but the route on the left was a monster (rated 5.8+). The first section gave very little in the way of foot holds and we were given the advice to "go fast." Once past the first half of the climb there was a ledge before beginning the second section. The second section was easily the hardest thing any of us did all day, but Freddy wouldn't let us quit. "Come on," we would hear him say from below. Any inch we would climb Freddy would tighten the rope so we couldn't fall back down. It was only by this help that any of us made it to the top, but we made it, tired, forearms tight, and fingertips raw.
As I approached the top of the more difficult climb it started to rain. I scrambled to make it to the top before it got too wet, and then rappelled back down to find shelter from the rain.
It was a beautiful and challenging day. Freddy told us there was great rock climbing in Morocco, and I think we all look forward to that sometime in April.