“Rock is rock it’s true, but climbing in Cuba isn’t like climbing in any other place. Climbing in Cuba is as much about Cuba as it is about climbing.”

With these words, author Jonny Miles captured the essence of climbing in Cuba.

Cuba conjures up visions of romance, music, beauty, and intrigue. Upon “discovering” Cuba on October 27, 1492, Christopher Columbus described the island as “the most beautiful thing human eyes could ever behold.” Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, and Graham Greene, have all fallen in love with Cuba.

Few visitors to Cuba come away equivocal. Cuba makes you commit. Most become passionate about Cuba. It reaches into you emotionally.

Cubans are sensual, musical, and mystical. They shout across courtyards and streets every detail of their daily emotions and calamities. It’s “in-your-face” living. Not for the timid or bashful. The island’s music reflects its people’s vitality and driving physicality.

Cuba is visually stunning. Bright colors and seductive images. Visual opulence is everywhere. You could happily take in Cuba on purely visual terms.

The focus of rock climbing in Cuba is the Valle de Viñales in the western, mountainous province of Pinar del Río. Overhanging limestone faces on 1,000-foot freestanding crags called “mogotes” rise above traditional thatch-roofed Cuban houses, red-soiled farms, and verdant palms and pines. The climbing is superlative, cranking jugs and pockets in chiseled karst limestone on improbable lines through stunning overhangs of stalactites and tufa columns.