Climbing in Cuba, Officially Banned but Alive, Well, and as Adventurous as Ever

April 13, 2012  |  Posted by Armando |  Comments Closed

Reports from visiting and Cuban climbers say that everyone is still able to climb in Cuba, despite the official, four-month ban on all access in the province of Pinar del Río. The Cubans have even put up new routes. Climbing in Cuba seems to have come full circle, back to the original, albeit ambiguous status of the last decade. Since 2003, officials have said that climbing is “unauthorized”, then turned a blind eye, tolerated, even advertised and exploited it. Now, visiting climbers must also take this ambiguity in stride and accept it as just another of the paradoxes the Cubans face every day. Read full update.

Trouble in Paradise

February 23, 2012  |  Posted by Armando |  Comments Closed

Cuba has become a booming winter climbing destination. Hundreds of overhanging sport routes draw Canadian and European climbers as well as U.S. climbers ignoring the lightly-enforced U.S. travel ban. Cuba’s vast limestone walls are home to a developing community of local climbers. Cuba also has become a favorite destination for many other adventure travelers. For now, it is all over. An unexplained edict of the Cuban government has closed its western mountains, not only to climbers, but all visitors, climbers, hikers, and birders alike. Read full story on our Permits/Access page.

A Film as Seductive as Cuba

April 5, 2011  |  Posted by Armando |  Comments Closed

Leo, a 19-year old campesino-climber in Viñales, sits a stride a stalactite high under the ferocious roof of Wasp Factory (7b+/12c), shows his blistered hands from his day-job, plowing behind a team of oxen, and then throws and sticks the crux hold. That’s the scene I loved from “The Life of Leo”, a candid five-minute video by Renan Ozturk, in the voice and images of Leovany Hernandez. After clipping the anchors, Leo says, “I would like for climbing to be legalized and that more people from around the world would come here to climb in peace.”
Life of Leo


March 21, 2011  |  Posted by Armando |  Comments Closed

On March 14, 2011, the Central Bank of Cuba devalued the Cuban Convertible Peso, in effect hiking the amount of food, travel, and lodging visitors can get for their dollars and euros. And the change ends the complication of calculating currency conversions when making purchases, reverting to the decade from 1994 to 2005 when the Cuban currency was pegged 1:1 to the dollar. The Cuban government, however, did not end its hostility to the U.S. dollar itself, and continues the 10-percent “penalty” on converting dollars. So, visitors are still better off arriving with Canadian dollars or euros to get full boost to the bottom line.


March 3, 2011  |  Posted by Anibal |  Comments Closed

Vinales is a great place for steep sport climbing. Every year more and harder routes are bolted and more climbers come down to spent days working on their single pitch test pieces. But the longer routes always seem like a second choice. Both for climbers and route developers. More bolts, more time, more work…its all very understandable.

This year I had enough and convinced Ben in Toronto (didnt took long) and Yarobis in Cuba. And in three days of work we climbed and bolted “Cimarron”. A new 6 pitch route on the right side of Mr Mogote Wall (Palenque Area). I had looked at this line for years!…and finally there it is…no more a dream!

Most pitches go at 5.10 or less except the last one, 5.11. Two 70m ropes are required for the rappels. All bolted 13draws and a few very needed slings to help guiding the rope on the longer pitches. A 7th pitch of V class scrambling could probably be climbed to reach the mogote’s summitt (protecting with threads on trees and rocks) if you still feel adventurous enough!

Good moderate climbing, exposed pitches, aerial rappels the longest route in Vinales with the greatest belay cave in the world and a unique view! Oh God, it was good to be up there!

The name its a tribute to all the cubans, that historically  have escaped to the mountains, looking  for  a form  of freedom.  From the runaway slaves that used these caves hundreds of year ago to the climbers today. To Iban Echu!

Hope all of u like it!

Salud !


Ben Iseman’s pictures

Cuba’s First Seaside Climbing

March 1, 2011  |  Posted by Armando |  Comments Closed

This February, a group led by of Aníbal Fernández and Yarobys García explored limestone cliffs in Jibacoa, a beachside town on the north coast, between Havana and Varadero. Five routes were done, and the prospect for more is promising. This could become an accessible diversion for climbers marooned in the beach resorts of Varadero. Cuban climber-photog Ernesto Eduardo Dobarganes has provide images of climbing above the sea, and Aníbal created a Jibocoa page on

Cuba Climbing Reaches the Czech Republic

February 23, 2011  |  Posted by Armando |  Comments Closed

Gerhard Schaar is a globetrotting professional climber from Innsbruck, Austria. Before coming to Cuba a few years ago to climb and put up routes with Yarobys García, Gerhard was know to us for his “Bolts for Bangalore” program to help advance climbing in India. Last year Gerhard wrote an article on his experiences in Cuba for Montana, a climbing publication in the Czech Republic. Gerhard says his account is not another “wonderful description of a climbing area,” but “a little different story” of finding local climbers with no real prospects but a “joy of life, great solidarity and warm hospitality.” See it in Articles.

Cuba Again Open to U.S. Climbers.

January 7, 2011  |  Posted by Armando |  Comments Closed

The U.S. government has abandoned enforcement of the travel ban to Cuba, and climbing in Cuba is now totally risk-free for American climbers. Thanks to government internet postings, blogs, and website reporting, it is possible to declare that NO ONE has been fined for illegally traveling to Cuba for 2 years, despite the greatly increased number of Americans going. All these sources confirm that Obama’s policy is non-enforcement – instead of changing the rules. Just no one has said so publicly – until now, as reported in latest article posted on

Articles on Cuba Reaches 35!

September 8, 2010  |  Posted by Armando |  Comments Closed just added to its Articles page a recent profile of Aníbal Fernández published in Gripped, the Canadian climbing magazine. “First Sinner in Paradise” tells the story of Cuba’s first climber and his commitment and sacrafice to climb in an authoritarian country. It ends with Aníbal’s poignant words on his exile: “I suffer everyday for ‘having’ to live away from my island and my people, from that seductive chaos that is life in Cuba. Every day there isn’t a moment when I would not leave it all and return to La Habana…. I am getting used to carrying the island around with me.”
“First Sinner in Paradise” brings the total number on the Articles page to 35 articles. EVERY article on climbing in Cuba, 30 in all, is at Articles. And the best on other outdoor rec and on conservation are there as well. 17 articles are in English, seven in Spanish, and others in French, Portuguese, German, and even Icelandic.

Nueva Perspectiva Española Sobre Escalada en Viñales

August 18, 2010  |  Posted by Armando |  Comments Closed

Un artículo encantado y atractivo de escalada en Cuba fue publicado en Agosto en la revista Campo Base en España. El artículo de 13 páginas es por el autor español Fernando Núñez, quien ha sido un gran partidario de escalada en Cuba. Un fotógrafo de escalada conocido, Fernando donó muchos de sus imágenes a la guía, Cuba Climbing.
La foto del título, extendio través de dos páginas es de la niebla de la mañana aislando y acentuando los mogotes de Viñales. La foto es por Viñalero Yarobys García, el escalador más fuerte en Cuba, y convirtiendose rápidamente su mejor fotógrafo de escalada. Felicitaciones a Fernando y Yaro.