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Rock Climbing

Fact File

Getting to Playa El Fronton: There are two ways of getting to Playa El Fronton: by land or by sea. The easiest option is to hire a boat at Las Galeras. The minimum charge is around RD$500 (US$30), which is the price for the whole boat rather than per person, and the trip takes about 15 minutes. The driver will obviously wait for you while you climb and enjoy the other attractions at El Fronton, provided that you are returning to Las Galeras on the same day. For overnight stays at the beach, the land route might be your best bet. Drive down the last paved road on your right before reaching Las Galeras, park where the road ends, and then brace yourself for a one-hour walk to El Fronton along an ocean trail. Since there are no facilities whatsoever at the beach, plan the amount of water and other supplies you take according how long you intend to stay and how much you are prepared to carry.

Other places to climb: Many – if not all – of the rock climbing sites in the Dominican Republic have been discovered and developed by Exposure. In Santo Domingo, Parque Mirador del Este is the most popular place to climb. There are a number of rocks with both top rope and lead climbs going up to Grade 5.12. Climbers meet on Fridays and Sundays. Near Santo Domingo, a number of new routes have been developed in the town of San Cristóbal, including top rope and lead climbs on a 50m wall called El Condé de Mana. Barahona is also a location with a lot of potential, although the only routes currently in use are on a relatively small, 15m wall called El Monolito.

Top rope and lead climbs: If you discount free climbing (without any rope at all), there are basically two ways to climb a rock: top rope and lead climbing. The top rope method employs the use of a rope which hangs down the rock face and is attached to the top of the wall by a sling. The climber is secured to the rope, which is controlled by someone on the ground. Lead climbing differs in that the climber himself is responsible for securing the rope. This will usually be by feeding it through bolts which have been hammered into the rock face as he climbs up the wall.

Equipment: You should obviously not attempt to rock climb without the necessary equipment. Helmets protect the skull from falling objects and accidental collisions with the rock face, and wearing one should become second nature. Climbers these days use 'seat' harnesses, which have a waist belt and two leg loops; while the more serious opt for tight-fitting, crescent-shaped 'rock' shoes, which are designed to provide maximum grip and, believe it or not, comfort when climbing. Ropes come in various styles and sizes. The standard for most climbers, however, is a 'dynamic' rope (a rope which stretches) of 50m in length and 11mm in diameter. This rope should be approved by the UIAA. And then there are the other accessories, such as belay devices (which catch a fallen climber on the rope) and karabiners (metal clips with springs which connect each part of the safety system), which complete the basic rock climbing gear. Finally, to prevent sweaty hands slipping off the rock, use chalk.

Links: Exposure [Tel: (809) 622-8333; E-mail: exposure@codetel.net.do] was originally established to promote rock climbing in the Dominican Republic. Therefore if you are from Santo Domingo (where Exposure is based), you can take a course for RD$500 (US$30). It is spread over three weekends and culminates in a day-trip to a climbing site near the capital. Tourists who are interested in rock climbing should contact Exposure directly for what's on offer and how much it will cost.

Other Rock Files:
Article: The Stairway to Heavean
Video: Playa El Fronton
Pano: The wall at Playa El Fronton
Pano: The beach at Playa El Fronton

Iguana Mama

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