September 2011

Cochabamba climbs high

Every single muscle in your body is contracted. Your mind is totally fixed on the next grasp over your right shoulder, which is nothing more than a narrow crack in the rock. The next second you will move your arm in one fluent move close along the crag to grab it and as your fingers feel the grip there is a fleeting moment of total weightlessness..

By Lukas Heuberger
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Wien - Austria

Concentrate - preparing for the next move
Photo: Lukas Heuberger

The sport

There are different types of climbing, as it is in general a way to ascend steep objects. The oldest and most common is of course mountaineering. This is where you try to get to the summit or simply go across mountains and move round obstacles in your way from one point to another. In mountaineering your motives are more practical, whereas, sport climbing focuses on the athletic aspects. Instead of trying to reach the peak it is more about movements and solving specific routes and combinations of grasps and steps, which often proves more difficult. The term “sport climbing” relates not just to climbing outdoors on natural rocks, but as well to climbing indoors on artificial climbing walls, where different difficulties and situations are simulated. In general, sport climbers are belayed by rope and karabiners but there are also forms where no backups are used. Climbers do this for either the thrill (free climbing), or because there is simply no need for these measures as you are climbing at jump altitude (bouldering).

Climbing community in Cochabamba

In the last few decades all over the world the interest in sport climbing has increased rapidly, and still more and more people begin to explore its fascination. Bolivia and the climbing scene of Cochabamba is no exception, although here climbing is generally still closely linked to outdoor and extreme sports organizations due to the lack of active sport climbers, who are committed to the scene. In 1999 the “Asociación de Escalada y Andinismo Cochabamba” (ADEAC) was founded as the first union of passionate clim-bersand outdoor sportsmen, including Clubs like the “Club de Escalada y Andinis-mo Factor-2” (F-2), which is the oldest and the most popular in Cochabamba. Since then the climbing scene in Cochabamba has run up to four clubs as furthermore, Tex45, Sequay y SendaLibre were formed. Most of the climbers here, although part of one of the clubs, also may have other projects running. “AndesXtremo” is one of the project members that run beside F-2. Formed by a group of people who love the thrill of ex-treme sports and nature, it is now (besides the internet) a good way for locals, as well as tourists, to learn about the climbing sport in general and the opportunities you have here in Cochabamba.

A lack of infrastructure

According to Marcelo Blanco Díaz Villamil, former president of the ADEAC and Co-owner of AndesXtremo, the climbing scene in Cochabamba has one main problem, which is the lack of money and infrastructure. In order to establish this infrastructure and get a broader base on which the climbing community can be built, the most impor-tant aim of all the associations and clubs mentioned above is to organize and connect people. Of course, if there are more people organized and involved not the least of the benefits, would be in the increase in economic possibilities. However, attaining commit-ted climbers proves more difficult than it seems. Mainly, because there are just two ar-tificial climbing walls in Cochabamba where people can collect their first experiences, one very small bolder room in the AndesXtremo - office and one in the stadium, neither of which are very suitable for beginners. Therefore, it is hard for people to become mo-tivated. This is made worse by the fact that getting to natural rocks is quite a big effort.

Almost at the top
Photo: Eduardo Osorio

Another important task all the clubs set themselves is to provide security by setting ground rules and standards concerning equipment and its usage. Con-trary to popular opinion, climbing is one of the safest sports you can do. In all his thirty years of climbing, for example, neither Mr. Díaz Villamil nor any of his acquaintances have had an accident. For security matters and to increase climbing skills there are also several courses offered for advanced climbers as well as for people who have never set a foot on a vertical rock.

Now, if you like to push yourself to your limit and feel yourself, if you are looking for a sport you can do outdoors with your friends, then make use of the offers here in Cocha-bamba and support the community. Get to know the addictive fascination of the climb-ing sport.


Square foot gardening
The ultimate urban garden in reduced space (10-10)

The last article of this series is dedicated to square foot gardening. A technique invented in the early eighties, by Mel Bartholemew, that is based on 30cmx30cm boxed gardens (1foot). The typical box size is 1.2mx1.2m so each contains 16 squares. Every square is managed separately with different crops. For example, you use one square for a tomato or cucumber plant while you can fit 16 carrots or radishes in another square.

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