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By nate post
Mar 24, 2014
The headwall of Royal Flush.

Thinking about going somewhere in the Caribbean in May. Cuba seems like the obvious choice. I'm wondering if anyone has any news about the silly climbing bans there? Seems like for the most part everyone is still able to climb in Viņales Valley. Should I go? Plan B is Dominican Republic even though it doesn't have nearly the development it looks like adventure. If anyone has a recommendation for a 10 day climbing trip in May I'm all ears. Thanks


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By nicelegs
From Denver
Mar 24, 2014

I hear the guards go home around 3:00 so you climb after that. I also hear they are way more worried about keeping locals off the cliffs.

Cayman Brac also has routes but is hot.

Bermuda has excellent (if esoteric) sport climbing but only above 11c. The season is now though, it'll be too hot in May.


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By nate post
Mar 24, 2014
The headwall of Royal Flush.

cool thanks. haven't ever heard of climbing in bermuda, I'm going to look into that. Still thinking cuba though. I don't care to climb before 3pm anyway gives me an excuse to be lazy. ha ha


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By John Byrnes
Administrator
From Fort Collins, CO
Mar 28, 2014

Nate,

Personally, I would not climb in Cuba or the Dominican Republic because the bolts in both places cannot be trusted. Don't be fooled by the myth that bolts only break in sea-side areas (and therefore Vinales is safe). See the latest Climbing Magazine for an article about what is actually breaking the bolts (it's not seawater).

As far as Cayman Brac being being hot, which do you think is hotter: climbing inland at Vinales or next the water in the shade on Cayman Brac?

Further, there are no access issues in Cayman Brac.

www.climbcaymanbrac.com


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By jedeye
Mar 28, 2014

Why not Puerto Rico?


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By nate post
Mar 29, 2014
The headwall of Royal Flush.

John,
Thanks for the info. I have been considering Caymon Brac. It looks fun. my friend Brian Heppner was there a few years back, and said he had a great time snorkeling in between climbing sessions. Do you have any space available in your place May 8th through 18th. I was considering Cuba mainly because I've always wanted to go there so it's partly for the adventure of travel and partly for climbing. But I have sort of changed my mind on Cuba just because we would only have about 8 days there and I would like to have more time when I go. Its now between Caymon Brac for the safer better climbing or Dominican Republic for the adventure. Or Puerto Rico which looks like it has good climbing and a few of climbing spots have recently been rebolted. I am probably over analyzing as it's just a 10 day trip, but I haven't bought the tickets yet so I figured I can keep getting some opinions until then.


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By John Byrnes
Administrator
From Fort Collins, CO
Mar 29, 2014

Nate,

Yes, I have one apartment open then. There will be another group of climbers there too. Contact me directly and we can figure it out. My phone # is on the website


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By Phil Lauffen
From The Bubble
Apr 28, 2014
RMNP skiing. Photo by Nodin de Saillan

John Byrnes wrote:
Nate, Personally, I would not climb in Cuba or the Dominican Republic because the bolts in both places cannot be trusted. Don't be fooled by the myth that bolts only break in sea-side areas (and therefore Vinales is safe). See the latest Climbing Magazine for an article about what is actually breaking the bolts (it's not seawater). As far as Cayman Brac being being hot, which do you think is hotter: climbing inland at Vinales or next the water in the shade on Cayman Brac? Further, there are no access issues in Cayman Brac. www.climbcaymanbrac.com



Hey John,

What is it about Cuba that makes the bolts break there and not Cayman Brac? I understand that material is the key (Titanium Glue-Ins are the way to go). Are you saying that Cuban climbers use bolts that are more corrosion prone than Cayman Brac climbers? They both are in a similar environment.

My confidence in what you are saying erodes when I see that you are making $$$ off people visiting Cayman Brac.

Thanks!

Phil


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By John Byrnes
Administrator
From Fort Collins, CO
Apr 28, 2014

Phil Lauffen wrote:
Hey John, What is it about Cuba that makes the bolts break there and not Cayman Brac? I understand that material is the key (Titanium Glue-Ins are the way to go). Are you saying that Cuban climbers use bolts that are more corrosion prone than Cayman Brac climbers? They both are in a similar environment. My confidence in what you are saying erodes when I see that you are making $$$ off people visiting Cayman Brac. Thanks! Phil


The environments in Cayman Brac and Cuba are identical. All the stainless steel bolts placed in Cayman Brac, back in '95-98, have either broken or are in such a state of decay that you can break many of them off with your fingers. These were high-quality stainless bolts from Fixe, Petzl, Metolius, etc. The best money could buy at the time.

These are/were the same type of bolts that have been placed in Cuba and in similar environments around the world. It's not that the people who placed them had poor judgement or ethics, it just that they didn't know any better.

I've been trying to get the word out since my first article in Climbing in 2001. You can see that article at www.climbcaymanbrac.com/safety/ plus a more current preface that addresses the breadth of the problems. (Which is again out of date as another half-dozen new places are reporting SCC.)

Since June last year the UIAA has had its anti-corrosion standard proposal out for review, and it should be ratified and published this summer. They have defined four environments based on corrosion potential. For example, "Class 1" is like Cuba, Cayman Brac and Thailand, and "Class 4" is indoors or very dry (desert) or very cold (alpine rock). Stainless steel is NOT a Class 1 anchor and might not be a Class 2 anchor either.


If you look at cubaclimbing.com you'll see that Armando is now asking visiting climbers to bring only titanium bolts. Josh at the thaitaniumproject.com has been installing only titanium for the last four years.

Ha ha! I WISH I made $$$ off climbers who visit Cayman Brac. I lose money on the house every year. And that's not counting the approximately $25,000 I have spent since 2000 bolting/re-bolting the island.

I'm in the process of buying Ti bolts for next year. The bill, just for 180 bolts, is $2,300. Donations are greatly appreciated Phil. Or rent my house next winter and have a great climbing vacation. Either way works for me.


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By John Byrnes
Administrator
From Fort Collins, CO
Apr 28, 2014

Just a bit more info:

www.climbing.com/route/bracwin/

titanclimbing.com/why.html


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By Jon H
From Boulder
Apr 28, 2014
At the matching crux

Just to make things even more complicated, maybe consider the STELLAR granite boulders of Virgin Gorda.


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By Phil Lauffen
From The Bubble
Apr 29, 2014
RMNP skiing. Photo by Nodin de Saillan

John Byrnes wrote:
The environments in Cayman Brac and Cuba are identical. All the stainless steel bolts placed in Cayman Brac, back in '95-98, have either broken or are in such a state of decay that you can break many of them off with your fingers. These were high-quality stainless bolts from Fixe, Petzl, Metolius, etc. The best money could buy at the time. These are/were the same type of bolts that have been placed in Cuba and in similar environments around the world. It's not that the people who placed them had poor judgement or ethics, it just that they didn't know any better. I've been trying to get the word out since my first article in Climbing in 2001. You can see that article at www.climbcaymanbrac.com/safety/ plus a more current preface that addresses the breadth of the problems. (Which is again out of date as another half-dozen new places are reporting SCC.) Since June last year the UIAA has had its anti-corrosion standard proposal out for review, and it should be ratified and published this summer. They have defined four environments based on corrosion potential. For example, "Class 1" is like Cuba, Cayman Brac and Thailand, and "Class 4" is indoors or very dry (desert) or very cold (alpine rock). Stainless steel is NOT a Class 1 anchor and might not be a Class 2 anchor either. If you look at cubaclimbing.com you'll see that Armando is now asking visiting climbers to bring only titanium bolts. Josh at the thaitaniumproject.com has been installing only titanium for the last four years. Ha ha! I WISH I made $$$ off climbers who visit Cayman Brac. I lose money on the house every year. And that's not counting the approximately $25,000 I have spent since 2000 bolting/re-bolting the island. I'm in the process of buying Ti bolts for next year. The bill, just for 180 bolts, is $2,300. Donations are greatly appreciated Phil. Or rent my house next winter and have a great climbing vacation. Either way works for me.


Thanks for all of the good information, John. I appreciate you having a sense of humor about my pointed remark. I'd be psyched to come out and check out cayman brac next time I'm looking for an island get away.

Thang is, I am definitely going to somewhere near mexico, but not mexico, and not attached to mexico in the near future. I'd appreciate whatever beta people got about ^3-ah climbing.

I think I am just going to follow a fat climber around and climb after him.


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By She's Such a B
From Lakewood, CO
Apr 29, 2014
Heel hook

This isn't particularly about climbing conditions in Cuba, but Cienfuegos, near the coast is a really lovely town and not too far from the mountains.


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By Phil Lauffen
From The Bubble
Apr 29, 2014
RMNP skiing. Photo by Nodin de Saillan

BethHux wrote:
This isn't particularly about climbing conditions in Cuba, but Cienfuegos, near the coast is a really lovely town and not too far from the mountains.


Thanks Beth!

We will probably be climbing less than a quarter of our time in Cuba, so any tips are appreciated.


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By She's Such a B
From Lakewood, CO
Apr 29, 2014
Heel hook

Phil Lauffen wrote:
Thanks Beth! We will probably be climbing less than a quarter of our time in Cuba, so any tips are appreciated.


Well in that case...I'm sure you know about paladars vs. government owned restaurants, but I strong advocate for the paladars (privately owned restaurants), I found the food to be better and more interesting. Bring your own tissues or TP, many bathrooms do not have any. Also, I would recommend drugs for all kinds of GI issues. No one on my trip got sick however except for the one guy who drunkenly washed his hands in a puddle on the street...I stayed in casa particular while I was visiting with an amazing Cuban family. Casa Particulars are government sanctioned, privately owned homes that can have guests. They have certain standards they have to meet, like air conditioning and hot water. My mama cubana made the best coffee. My favorite restaurant in Cienfuegos, which is a southern coastal town, was Las Mamparas, owned by the family I was staying with.

If you are spending time in Havana, Old Havana is beautiful and totally not well located for going out to the clubs. La Zorra y El Cuervo is a great jazz venue in Vedado. Enter through the red telephone booth.

There are two currencies in Cuba, the CUC and the cuban peso. CUC is what you can exchange for at the airport and is significantly more valuable than the peso. Be careful when you get change that you get CUCs (pronounced kooks) and not pesos, unless you want them. For buying street food, use pesos, you may get a little ripped off if you use CUCs. Pre-negotiate your cab rides and do not slam the doors on the old cars.

The Cuban people are incredibly friendly for the most part and always excited to talk to Americans. They will want to know why and how you got there. Internet is slow, expensive, and limited. The fancy hotels are your best bet for sending emails.
Feel free to PM with any additional questions. I was there last summer for a few weeks with the Colorado School of Public Health. One of my favorite trips ever.


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By nate post
Apr 29, 2014
The headwall of Royal Flush.

Beth did you climb while you were in Cuba? Just Curious. We are headed there May 8th for a couple weeks.


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By She's Such a B
From Lakewood, CO
Apr 29, 2014
Heel hook

nate post wrote:
Beth did you climb while you were in Cuba? Just Curious. We are headed there May 8th for a couple weeks.


Sadly no. It was a pretty structured trip, we were visiting hospitals and other healthcare delivery centers. I did a little random bouldering when we went up into the mountains to visit a waterfall under the watchful eyes of some Cuban officials who definitely thought I was nuts. I'm going to try and find the name of the park we went to, there was some fantastic pure overhang bouldering behind this waterfall. The mountains were a great break from the humidity of sea level Cuba which is...intense.


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By nate post
Apr 29, 2014
The headwall of Royal Flush.

Well sounds like you still had a wonderful trip even if you didn't get to climb. I just got the Cuba climbing guide book in the mail and I'm pretty excited to go. Plus it's snowing sideways again today. I love skiing powder as much as the next person but I'm so over winter this year.


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