For the last couple of years, everybody down here in South America has been telling us to go to Piedra Parada. By everybody, I mean everyone in the rock climbing circles. You see, Piedra Parada is the premier sport climbing destination in South America.
I’m pretty skeptical of over-hyped destinations, especially when they don’t have internet connection, but we decided to give it a go. I spent a week putting in 12 hour days on the job, and then we left for a 5 day off-the-grid adventure.
Piedra Parada is located in the middle of nowhere in northern Patagonia. Actually, it’s about 60 miles of dirt road PAST the middle of nowhere.
But, when you arrive, you quickly realize that the hype is for real. Below is the view looking into the canyon where hundreds of climbs line the walls on each side. This canyon is deep. It took me 40 minutes to ride to the end on my mountain bike.
We set up camp at the entrance of the canyon, right on the river. We were staring right at the giant Piedra Parada, which means “Standing Rock,” and is where the place got its name. Quite a view.
We hadn’t even touched the climbing, and we were already in heaven. This is the type of place that just blows your mind. A true 5 star hang on a river, completely isolated, surrounded by spectacular scenery.
Everyone settled right into camp life, especially Soleil. She loves camping, and she loves being outside all the time.
Well, almost all the time. She still loves the van!
Her new favorite thing by far is helping Daddy build the camp fire. She’s learned to go out and gather little sticks to get it started. She’ll start doing this a couple of hours before we start the fire. LOVE IT!
Soleil quickly learned that not everything about camp life is fun and games. Two things in particular really pissed her off.
First, the daily solar shower with Daddy. She would have much preferred not to bathe.
And, second, all the sticker bushes and prickly things. She’d be out playing for a while and come back saying “MANO, MANO, MANO.” Stevie would pull several stickers out of her hand while she bit her lip refusing to cry.
She’s a tough little girl, this one.
In the end, there’s nothing that some Mommy love can’t fix.
So, down to business. We were all pretty excited to check out the climbing.
And who wouldn’t be. This place has the eye candy. Below, Stevie and Sol hiking in on day 1, with a 400 foot spire in the background.
It’s been an interesting process for Stevie and I to learn how to climb as a family, without any friends or family around to help.
Needless to say, it’s very different from any climbing experience I’ve had before.
There are a lot of variables and a lot of moving parts. In a nut shell,
everything revolves around Soleil!
If she’s happy, we climb.
If she starts screaming and crying when Mama is 100 feet off the ground, we apologize to everyone within half a mile.
If she’s dirty, we change her diaper, right there at the climb, (the other climbers love it, I think?)
If she’s hungry, we nurse.
If she’s bored, we go on a baby-hike and explore…
If she’s motivated, we let her climb…
The whole experience has become a different thing for me. Instead of going out and doing as many hard routes as I can in a day, I’m lucky to get two or three climbs in. But I get to spend the whole day with my family, laughing and having fun. And we both get to watch our daughter experience nature. She will grow up like this. She will know nothing different.
I love it.
As for Piedra Parada’s climbing, I concur. It’s world class. And due to its remote location, it will never become crowded like Smith Rocks. A pure paradise.
Find the climber below…
Below, Stevie working her project…
It was hard to leave Piedra Parada this morning. But we’ve already changed our schedule for the next month so that we can return. So it wasn’t goodbye. We’re heading back as soon as possible.
Yes, it’s that good.