“Call me as soon as you get out of class. I have big news.” I read this text from a friend about half way through my Friday stats class and couldn’t focus for the rest of the class. I found out that a Chilean had invited a group of us to go sport climbing at Las Chilcas, a climbing mecca about 2 hours away. I rushed home to pack my gear (somehow managed to forget my headlamp and sleeping pad) and made it back to our meeting spot in time to do some last minute grocery shopping for the trip.
The fact that we could finally climb outside was a big deal to my group of gringo climbing friends and I, since we’d been primarily climbing in the bouldering gym close to campus due to the fact that none of us had a rope. The weather forecast was looking great, and we couldn’t have been more excited to send it on some real rock.
We hopped on a bus to Calera out of the center of Valpo, and from Calera found a bus heading toward Santiago via the north route. Our Chilean friend knew where to get off the bus, thankfully, because otherwise it would be hard to find the climbing area. Literally a 5 minute walk off of the highway, we approached one of the largest sport climbing crags in the greater Santiago area. With close to 100 routes, including everything from beginner to professional level of difficulty, we were amazed. Even though the sun was about to set, we started trying some routes with our headlamps on, assisted by the moonlight.
Wanting to escape the sound of trucks on the highway, we hiked up into the cerro and set up camp for the night there. It was another great night under the stars in Chile- crisp, dry mountain air, good food, and plenty of great conversation in Spanish.
The plan was to wake up early to climb on Saturday morning, since the heat of sun would make the rock untouchable by the middle of the day. As to be expected, we didn’t wake up as early as we wanted, but still got some great climbing in. The rock eventually did get too hot, and we started the few hour trip back to Valpo. It was so great to finally climb outside again!