Tag Archives: climbing trip

Climbing Destination: Refugio Frey, Argentina

A trad climbing heaven, Refugio Frey is a self-contained Disneyland where the only ticket for admission is a 4+ hour hike and stoke to climb. Whether spending a week or a month there, the Frey is a rare gem in the world of backcountry alpine climbing: even while easily accessible from town, the only thing stopping you from climbing there for months on end is the tedium of the hike to town so you can replenish your food supplies. Situated in northern Patagonia in the high alpine of Bariloche, the dusty orange and pink granite spires called to me as soon as I Googled “Refugio Frey.”

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Pits & Peaks: Lessons I Learned on the Road

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Home is where you park it.

You know you’re a climber when you aspire to live out of a van. I have only been climbing for two and a half years. I still flail at times, my leg sometimes shakes, but my psych is high. Climbing has served as a great outlet for my love to travel. I can dabble with the touristy activities, but after a couple hours in a museum or one bus tour, I’m over it.

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Climbing Destination: Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Beaches, boulders...what could be better? Photo credit: Grant Farmer

Beaches and boulders at The Baths…what could be better?

With crystal blue waters, white Caribbean sand, and beaches covered with massive, sun-bleached granite boulders, Virgin Gorda is a paradise climbing destination. Almost a year later, I find myself perusing the photos from our trip and daydreaming about watching the sun rise through the palm trees with crashpads on our backs, midday naps in hollowed-out boulders to escape the heat of the day, and the relaxed pace of life on “island time.”

The Basics: Virgin Gorda is located in the Caribbean, and is the third largest of the British Virgin Islands.  It covers an area of roughly 8 square miles with most of the climbing on the southern tip of the island.  Spanish Town is the largest, most populated town on the island.  While it seems to be a common stop for cruise ships, the tourism on the island is pretty quiet.

For reference, Puerto Rico is on the far left in this map. Photo credit: Google Maps (with edits)

For reference, Puerto Rico is on the far left in this map. Photo credit: Google Maps (with edits)

How to Get There: You can fly directly to the BVI via Beef Island Airport on Tortola and take a ferry over. A cheaper option is to fly into the US Virgin Islands and take a ferry from St. Thomas to Virgin Gorda. The ferries definitely run on “island time,” so don’t expect them to be punctual. To our surprise, the ferry staff greeted us with familiar Bostonian accents and were wearing Celtics jerseys–apparently that’s where the Cape Cod ferries spend the winter!

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Climbing Destination: Kamouraska, Quebec

The view from the crag at Kamouraska

The view from the crag at Kamouraska

At the end of a vacationless summer my husband and I decided we’d better take advantage of the season, so we did a little sleuthing for a new crag that was in driving distance of Boston. I know some of you diehard climbers will make the 14 hour drive to The Red for three days of climbing, but for us, 8 hours per day is the max. With that in mind, we settled on a beautiful crag in the sleepy farm town of Kamouraska, Quebec. We quickly came up with a plan, made sure we had valid passports, booked a motel room, and within a week we were on our way for a 5 day trip. We arrived to crisp, cool, manure-scented air (which, yes, I happen to love), the beautiful Saint Lawrence River, and a horizon full of mountains and silos. Add to this peaceful scene about 100 routes of granite and quartz and we were sold.

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Climbing Destination: Cayman Brac

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Beautiful seaside limestone on Cayman Brac

New England winters can be brutal. Some years we have a blizzard on Halloween and then another on April fools day. Cruel joke, Mother Nature. So how do we deal with 6+ straight months of depressing, gray, cold weather? We escape it! That’s right, we run away. This year, in the middle of March when we had had enough of the New England winter my husband and I headed to the warm, sunny, climbing destination of Cayman Brac. It turned out to be exactly what we were looking for: a low-key, tropical island, full of wildlife and world-class climbing. So if you’re looking to escape the cold or just go on a new climbing adventure here are my suggestions for traveling to the Brac:

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Rock Roots: Mia DePaolis

Mia, age 21, donning shades to work Iron Man (V4) at Buttermilk Boulders

Mia, age 21, donning shades to work Iron Man (V4) at Buttermilk Boulders

I was stressed out at work, about to leave for a trip to The Red the next day, and I was trying to remember all the things I needed to pack. For someone who thrives on lists, the fact that I didn’t have a packing list was giving me a mental breakdown. Then, I got an email from Mia DePaolis, who was already in Kentucky. “Hi Lily! Today Tim was doing a climb that was pumpier than he thought, so we got stuck at the crag after the sun went down and he had to climb with a headlamp on!” Mia reminded me that all I REALLY needed was a rope, shoes, and harness, and that memorable adventures would happen whether or not I remembered to bring my Keen socks with the Left and Right foot labels sewn onto them. It’s hard to miss Mia’s spontaneity and love for adventure, so I was shocked when she told me that she has never been west of New York! This dedicated gym rat has only climbed outside twice, but right now is road tripping out to Portland, Oregon with some friends she met at her climbing gym and actually left her steady job to do so! Chica with cojones. Venga.

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Female Climbing Film Double Feature!

While you are recovering from your post-turkey haze, or holiday shopping frenzy, check out these sweet videos to get you psyched for your next climbing trip! This first video (above) was produced by none other than our girl Colette McInerney, and documents her “girl’s trip” to Brazil with pro climbers Daila Ojeda and Olivia Hsu.

And then if that wasn’t enough to get you packing your bags, we have Jen Randall’s new series for Epic TV Europe’s Best Crags.  Follow Jen and her (new!) husband, Alex Gorham, as they travel around Europe in a camper van and give you a flavor of all the great climbing Europe has to offer.  The first three installments feature Switzerland and the Czech Republic, and a new one will be released each week (look for it here on our site, we’ll be debuting them as they come out!).

Climb on!

-Missy

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Climbing Destination: El Chorro, Spain

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For hundreds of years, sheep herders roamed among the cliffs and caves dotting El Chorro, resting in the natural shelter-forming limestone caves. In the 1920s, the Spanish King ordered a hydroelectric dam built, cutting through “la garganta” (throat) of the valley. In order to ensure the workers stayed on task, he also had a “caminito” (little walkway) built along the sheer side of the cliffs, hundreds of feet above the pummeling river, which would later become the terrifying and exhilarating “Camino del Rey” (see more below). In the 1930s, rebels fighting the Franco dictatorship took refuge in the endless caves and cliffs traversing the Andalucian countryside. And in the 1980s, rock climbers (rebels in their own way) began bolting the magnificent routes El Chorro has become known for. Inspired by these tales, my husband and I descended upon El Chorro for our honeymoon in December 2011. What we discovered was the quintessential sleepy, yet gossip filled Spanish town, a fantasyland of climbing, with characters that we thought only existed in such fantasies. Here’s the 411 on climbing in El Chorro:

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Climbing Destination: Kalymnos, Greece

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I usually come home from a vacation thinking, “That was fun, beautiful, and relaxing, but there are so many other places I want to see and explore.” This wasn’t the case with Kalymnos. Instead, I returned thinking, “How can I restructure my life, work remotely, and move there permanently?” Of course I settled back into my normal life and haven’t figured out how to answer that question (yet!), but I can say, without hesitation, that Kalymnos is my favorite place on Earth so far and I will absolutely be going back there.

For a little back story, my husband and I went there for our Honeymoon in August 2012. We hopped around the Greek Islands and ended up in Kalymnos for a week. I think if we could do it again, we may have skipped the other islands all together and spent our whole two weeks on Kalymnos. The other islands were amazing, but Kalymnos had everything we wanted, including steep route climbing on tufas and stalactites. Our days went something like this: rise early, climb, late lunch, afternoon swim, nap/read/veg, dinner, sleep, repeat. For us, it was the perfect balance of activity and relaxation.

If you’re planning a trip, I cannot recommend this place highly enough, so here are my suggestions and some info that might come in handy:

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