Skip to Content

Rock Climbing : Articles : Trip Report : Climbing Caracas - Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

Climbing Caracas - Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

Submitted by kineticone on 2007-02-11 | Last Modified on 2007-04-30

Rating: 12345   Go Login to rate this article.   Votes: 5 | Comments: 7 | Views: 9367

by Karl Alexander

Rockclimbing Article Image1_large
Playa Caracas, Vieques Island, Puerto Rico
Karl Alexander
Rockclimbing Article Image2_large
Karl Alexander

Bouldering, one of the more accessible, rock climbing games, is a relatively new sport for me. It was passed over years ago for faster, muddier, more long-distance adventures. As the responsibilities of time and the injuries of the past start to set in, Iíve found that the slow meditative qualities of rock climbing may be just what I need to temporarily remove my mind from daily stresses such as taxes, doctor bills, and inventing a new permutation of rice and beans for dinner.

Like most of you, Iíve tried many different avenues to avoid and deflect the inevitable distractions of responsibility. You will be happy to know that through dozens of experiments Iíve concluded that it is scientifically impossible for your brain to think about tax forms, an angry girlfriend, or that jerk that cut you off in the AutoExpreso lane while the rest of your body is hanging upside down by a total of five fingernails and a heel toe lock.

As with most adventure sports, the path of least resistance and minimal pain can be found by emulating another creature that has perfected the sport into a well-established lifestyle. As a beginning boulderer, Iíve decided to adopt the slow, prehistoric pace of the ubiquitous fuzzy chiton, which must also be the model creature for many Colmado cashiers and post office workers.

Rockclimbing Article Image3_large
Karl Alexander
Rockclimbing Article Image4_large
Karl Alexander

Chitons are a type of mollusk that live near the edge of the ocean, creeping along the rocks at a speeds measured in inches per week. Moving at this rate has helped me appreciate my bouldering problems and the surrounding environment much more intimately. Watching the flowers bloom on the ledges, snails gathering in the salty cracks, and finding the softest places to land are some of the only activities that can take place while perched twenty feet above the rocky shore.

The west wall of Playa Caracas, once known as Red Beach, offers hours of bouldering problems, and the early lessons that are most often learned the hard way can be acquired via the soft route. This diverse climbing spot rapidly solves missed holds, toe slips, and the occasional sand burr under the fingernail. Gravity is smoothly interrupted by soft sand, cuts quickly cauterized in the salty Caribbean Sea, and rest periods are fused with the distilled essence of anti-metro area.

This morning, my friend and I are working a problem thatís about thirty feet tall, four feet wide, and loaded with holds. Each ascent and decent can be solved differently, stretching our bodies and honing our communication skills. Thereís a slight overhang that stumps us each time, no matter how loudly the other person explains ďjust move your foot down six inches and jam it in there!Ē After several sweaty minutes of R-rated fondling of the upside down rock, frustration mounts and, plop, gravity wins. Grudge match scheduled for tomorrow, tickets on sale now.

Rockclimbing Article Image5_large
Karl Alexander
Rockclimbing Article Image8_large
Karl Alexander

The sunny approach is a short hike to the wall on the far right side of the beach, taking you away from most of the sunbathers and potential spectators who gather under the bohŪos and shade trees by the parking area. Also attracted to this isolated section of sand are nesting sea turtles, so watch for the nest markers and avoid disturbing these endangered reptiles.

My bouldering gear bag is light and relatively inexpensive compared to my other packs. Climbing shoes, a chalk bag, sunscreen, and water are all youíll need at Playa Caracas. For local climbing gear, check out Aventuras in San Juan (

After a few hours of crawling up and down this rocky face, not actually getting anywhere, but traveling outside of my daily routine and focusing on nothing but my body and how it relates to gravity in general, I can better appreciate the path of the butterfly and speed of the chiton. Serpentine routes to nowhere fill our lives, but taking the time to dig on the cactus flowers and subtle bumps and cracks of rocks helps to put that traffic jam in perspective.

Rockclimbing Article Image9_large
Karl Alexander
Rockclimbing Article Image10_large
Shoes off, back to work
Karl Alexander

For Vieques travel information:

All photos in this article: Karl Alexander


Twitter  Facebook  StumbleUpon  Delicious  Digg  Reddit  Technorati

7 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

 More ArticlesArticle RatingsArticle CommentsProfile
Captain Sharon Grasso = Rock Monster
 More ArticlesArticle RatingsArticle CommentsProfile
5 out of 5 stars The photos are great!
 More ArticlesArticle RatingsArticle CommentsProfile
my wife and i loved Vieques. although we didn't climb, we truly enjoyed beach hopping on mountain bikes. red beach was one of our favorites, as was media luna beach. thanks for the article!
 More ArticlesArticle RatingsArticle CommentsProfile
5 out of 5 stars Very poetic :) Sounds like a great place.
 More ArticlesArticle RatingsArticle CommentsProfile
5 out of 5 stars Thanks for the description, photography, philosophy and sharing part of you.
 More ArticlesArticle RatingsArticle CommentsProfile
Beautiful trip report. Were you able to explore some of the inland granite boulders? Lava flows on the shore and Tuolumne-esqe granite boulder problems inland. Great stuff. Sustained me for a year. Thanks for the chance to reminisce.
 More ArticlesArticle RatingsArticle CommentsProfile
damn i just vistited caracas right before i started climbing!

Add a Comment