The View From Up Top: Rockclimbing in Las Vinas, Lima, Peru

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I didn’t know any rockclimbers in Lima when I came here, but the thing about having a climbing gym nearby is that you’re bound to meet people. Especially if it’s as friendly a place as Peru. So the first day I went to the gym (PIRQA in Miraflores, Lima) I met two people and found myself in a cab the next morning at 6am on my way to a meet-up point with a Brazilian and 5 Peruvians. The drive to Las Vinas was quick – maybe 12 minutes – but the approach to the base of the climbs was not. 40 minutes, straight up. The ground was mostly sand, so steep and slippery. But the scenery was spectacular.

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See those clouds across the way? They’re at eye level. My ears were popping on the way up.

The dogs had no problem with the steep cliffs, though. The humans took a few breaks on the way up. The dogs and humans split the water almost 50-50.

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See those mountain paths? There are people who walk those every day. You get to place to place on foot here still. Not everyone has a vehicle. Not everyone complains about the 40 minutes uphill everyday either I bet. The 30 minutes running down was more fun, but probably not if you do it every day either. And it’s awfully hard on the knees. First world rockclimbing problems.

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The rock was really interesting. Granite, and full of craters on this line. There was another that was half slab with tiny ledges. About 25 climbs in a few areas total. Mostly in the 5.7 to 5.11+ range. There are definitely more lines to be set with bolts (not really possible to place any gear for trad), and most of the current routes are pretty recent. I went with one of the gym workers and he’d never been there himself before. There was one line of old bolts that looked a bit sketchy, but they were fine. No idea when they went up though. I wasn’t about to jump on them first. Not that I wanted someone else to break them in for me…

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Me leading something balance-y and tiny.

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Notice how there’s shade at this point in the morning. That changed. It got awfully hot, and I had to bail on the afternoon for fear of burning to a crisp. I wedged myself into a crack for awhile. Even with sunscreen I managed to burn odd shapes into my back. That’s why we left so early in the morning – to climb before the sun hit and every sane person was taking a siesta.

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Me and Matias from the top. There are more climbs that start from up there, but it’s a fun top-out. The top of this route takes a big angle to the right to end on the same draws as the climb to the right. So you’re never quite sure if you’re supposed to go right or stay left, but nothing was sketchy clip-wise. We didn’t even need the stick-clip. The only problem was a few 5.10′s were in need of some feet to make them feel more 5.10-ish. There was a lot of frictioning and searching desperately for ledges while pinching down on nothing. Clearly from the photo, though, this climb was worth it.

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You can see two lines of bolts on this rock on the right. The ones on the far right are the old bolts I mentioned above. The bolts that head left from the bottom right are newer and shinier. It looks like you’ve got lots of hold on to at the beginning of this, but the undercling crack area is a lot worse than it seems. The big hold to the left of the bolt is okay, but more of a slope than a jug for the first clip.

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Cézar topping out. Notice how the sun isn’t attacking him yet. Don’t pay attention to how he’s not attached to anything. He’s actually not that close to the edge. It’s a trick of the camera.

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One more from the way up. See the terraced plants on the left. I don’t know what they are, but they must be hardy to live with so little water.

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This is just a tiny bit of the city. Notice all the flat roofs. It doesn’t rain (much) or snow (basically never) in Lima so they don’t need to be slanted.

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Last shot of the clouds at eye level and all the smog below. You can’t see the ocean that’s just beyond. El Pacifico. Great day of climbing. Highly recommended for a cooler day when there’s a bit of shade, though. We ran into about 6 other climbers that day, which we weren’t expecting. It’s not a really well-known spot, but apparently it’s getting some use.

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2 Responses

  1. mv says:

    Fantastic scenery!

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