Cuba has been become a booming winter climbing destination. Hundreds of overhanging sport routes draw Canadian and European climbers, and 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 a like. This report is provided here because of the many U.S. climbers who ignore the lightly-enforced U.S. travel ban to climb in Cuba.
Trouble in Paradise
In January 2012 the Cuban authorities closed almost all access to the mountains in Western Cuba. The closure does not apply only to climbers, but all visitors, from cavers and mountain bikers to hikers and bird-watchers. In Viñales National Park, home of about 80 percent of the established routes, access is limited to walking with official guides on the few trails long ago “authorized” by officials for tourism. The authorized trails reach about one percent of Viñales Valley, and go nowhere near any of the climbing sites. The rest of this World Heritage site is off-limits to all visitors.
No one has seen a written decree, so the full scope, rationale, and penalties are unknown. Local officials themselves can’t say why the policy on access has changed.
This information is a public crowdsourcing effort between the Access Fund,
and Mountain Project. You should confirm closures, restrictions, and/or related dates.
This is a structural entry created to help allow subareas and routes to be added. It will be filled in subsequently.
El Palenque is one of three main areas that contain the majority of routes in Cuba.
El Palenque lies four kilometers north of town and is easy to reach on foot, cab or bike. El Palenque was the hub of the first routes put up in Cuba. It may be the cushiest, most indulgent advance base camp in climbing. El Palenque is a bar by day and disco at night, under an immense hemisphere of limestone stalactites, pockets, and knobs, offering gymnastic bouldering on its walls and ceilings, and apre-climbing super-chilled beer or lush, frosty mojitos. You can return for the evening extravaganza and spectacularly clad mulata dancers. El Palenque provided the first American and Cuban climbers with rest and refreshments after a strenuous day of route-building, and new climbs were named for the disco songs that wafted out over the fields. Those days have passed, but El Palenque still offers uncommon diversions and high quality climbing.
To be filled in.
El Palenque lies four kilometers north of town and is easy to reach on foot, cab or bike.
All the climbing areas are within walking distance or a short cab ride.