Personal Team Experience:
Rock Climbing in Boquete, Panama
Upon arrival in Boquete, I was really excited about the number of adventurous activities available as I am always thirsty for adventure. I travel for business however so I am always looking for activities that work for the whole family, not so much for niches or extremists. I must confess, when I first heard that they offered rock climbing tours in Boquete I was not so convinced that it would be a good addition to our selection of tours. However after spending a few weeks in Boquete and hearing Cesar´s name come up on a daily basis from every tour operator I interviewed, I decided I should probably check out Rock Climbing in Boquete, niche or not. Boy am I thankful for that!
I met with Cesar the day before to interview him and get a little more information about his goals and what types of Rock Climbing programs he offers. I was genuinely impressed with his knowledge and passion for the sport as well as his confidence that Rock Climbing in Boquete was something nearly the whole family could enjoy. In my head however, all I could think of was how insane I would feel announcing to my family the days scheduled outing: ¨Hey kids, today´s super safe family activity is scaling rock walls. No need to be scared, everyone is doing it!¨. Followed by the reminder from my mom who stated more times than I can count, ¨Just because Johnny jumped off the cliff, does that mean you should follow?¨ In my case, the answer was usually yes, but having a family to think about I may have different thoughts. But after several recommendations and meeting with Cesar, I was ready to go for it...Boquete Rock Climbing here I come!!
So, the next day we met at the office and geared up. They give you harnesses, helmets, and even climbing shoes which I have to say were extremley helpful once scaling the rocks. I had the fortune of sharing my Boquete Rock Climbing experience with two teenagers ages 12 and 14 who had done it once before and fell in love with the sport. How inspiring to share the experience with two youth so energetic and agile with great attitudes and positive energy. The great thing is that they actually came to practice and learn the art of slack-lining which is basically like walking a tight-rope, only a bit wider. Rock climbers use it to pass from one rock face to another. Kind of like in the movie ¨Cliff Hanger¨with Sylvester Stalone. I got to try my slack-lining skills there as well which ended up being the highlight of my day, but back to the subject at hand, Rock Climbing in Panama.
There were two rock climbing guides, Cesar and his assistant. I started up the rock face with his assistant while Cesar helped out the kids on the slack line. First I should mention that the rock formations here in Boquete are absolutely incredible for rock climbing. Second, I really do not know the terminology well so I will describe the experience the best I can using basic descriptions. There is a crag or crevasse to grip every step of the way even for shorties like me or kids, it is just a matter of finding what works for you. The first rock climb up the simplest route was challenging for me, however if I had gotten over my fears and just listened to the guide things would have been much smoother. I got a little frustrated at one point because I felt I could not reach the next hold and I fell (gasp!!!). Not to worry, that is what the harness is for and a little break dangling 40 feet up was actually welcome.
Once I regained composure, or confidence if you will, I was ready to tackle the final leg of the climb. The final leg was only another 15 feet up, but the angle was difficult creating more of a challenge. With guidance, I made my way to the top and with it my confidence soared to the top as well. How amazing to scale a rock face!! After a brief break, I rappelled down the rock wall with a grin from ear to ear. I am an adventurer, but I never thought I would be able to do something quite like rock climbing. How incredible!!
After my first Boquete Rock Climbing attempt, I took a break and traded one of the kids for some time on the slack line. I actually enjoyed challenging myself a little closer to the ground and was pretty successful after only one session. Meanwhile, the kids took turns scaling parts of the wall that were higher and more complex than the first one I had tried. Not wanting to be outdone by a couple of kids, I stepped up to a second route a bit more challenging and much higher than the first.
My second rock climbing attempt was lead by Cesar, who easily proved why he was a master at his sport of Rock Climbing. He coached me into finding every little foothold and handhold that I never would have found on my own. He knows those rock walls like no other and was able to guide me to new heights of 75 feet or more from the ground. ¨Take your right hand and move it to the left just a bit till you feel the grip, ok, now take your left leg and push up while reaching your left hand into the next ridge just to your left and dig in¨. Amazingly enough, his patient instructions were so precise I never fell or faltered throughout the entire experience with Cesar. Rock climbing in Panama is incredible!!!
Fact of the matter is, what I initially thought was a niche sport is something nearly anyone can do, and everyone who has the opportunity should do. Cesar´s guidance can instill confidence in anyone, and his passion for the sport of Rock Climbing and attention to safety and detail makes this an unforgettable experience for anyone visiting the Boquete region. For those families that have that spark of adventure, Rock Climbing in Boquete is a must do when visiting Panama.