On Saturday I went climbing in Banos, Ecuador, with Henry from Natural Magic. I highly recommend this group, as I also received excellent kayaking lessons from them, and they are one of the few outfits in town that offers paragliding, as some four members of their staff are pilots. The guides were very friendly, knowledgeable, and low-pressure. Henry, my guide for both kayaking and rock climbing, speaks English, and I recommend him to anyone visiting Banos.
The rock face is around 10 minutes outside Banos, near a set of ziplines purported to be the fastest in South America, which shoot back and forth over the river as you climb. Which means that occaisionally as you’re tackling a problem, you’ll hear the streak of metal upon metal, accompanied by a scream as someone flies by.
I found the easiest climb to be quite challenging. I’ve gone on a number of climbing trips since I was 8 years old, but I’m by no means an experienced or skilled climber. That said, I was able to climb the easiest wall on my first attempt, but not without falling off once or twice. The rock is volcanic basalt, which makes it look very cool, and affords many options for holds, but also means that the surface can be very slippery, especially when dust has fallen down from above.
On the other hand, Henry, my guide, easily freeclimbed the wall in just a few minutes, not even bothering to secure his line to the anchored caribiners on the way up.
All in all, the wall is around 200 meters, if you’re wanting to do alpinism, but we topped out at around 40 or 50 meters on each climb. I certainly couldn’t have climbed more.
There were a number of other standard ascents of increasing levels of difficulty. I was lucky enough to be there when a group of climbers were taking their assessments to become certified alpinism guides, so I got to see a number of different techniques mountain climbers use, as well as marvel at their skill in climbing.
All in all, I highly recommend checking out the rockclimbing in Banos, so long as you have at least some experience climbing.
Photo is the rock wall outside of Banos, with climbers on three different climbs. Here’s a bonus.