I am 13 meters high and about to push myself through one last movement to finish the route. My next destination is a piece of porous, green plastic a few centimeters from my head. If it’s true that great journeys begin with just one step, than great climbing routes end with small boosts like this. Few times would one imagine that victory depends on such small pieces.
Climbing, like every sport, demands a lot of skill, but especially these three: Strength, concentration and faith.
It can be practiced on natural boulders, but what we tried on was an artificial tower, the one at Nosara Climb. It consists of scaling along a route of artificial rocks painted with specific colors that reach the highest point of the wall. It sounds easy. Foot, hand, balance.
We tried several routes at Nosara Climb until our tendons couldn’t take anymore.
The purple rope that holds me above the line of the horizon is held by the hands of Steven Way, the man responsible for this project called Nosara Climbing. He has more than 20 years of experience practicing this sport.
This 42-year-old Londonite with a mohawk and wiry arms screams to me the instructions I must follow to reach the next rock.
Those who have gripped these pieces as if their life depended on it know that the heat is one of the greatest enemies of this sport. The cold is ideal to increase friction and support adhere yourself well to the rock, whether it’s natural or artificial. Conversely, when hands sweat the friction is lost.
By luck, one of the four faces of the tower is always in the shade. Climbing at night with artificial light and under the starry night sky of Nosara is also a good option for escaping the heat. This locale’s schedule is flexible.
A “New” Sport
In Nosara, just as in the rest of Costa Rica, climbing gyms are new, but they have been booming in the last few years, so much so that it will premiere as an olympic sport in Japan in 2020. Way hopes that this will be the boost the sport needs to attract more followers.
Nosara Climb has been around for four years and it receives groups of tourists and locals.
“I wanted to build a strong, professional structure,” Steven says, smacking a wall of the tower with his open hand. “Nobody wants to climb something that doesn’t inspire confidence.” It is buried deep into the ground and it was designed with a anti-seismic system. The rocks, anchorings and a large part of the equipment was brought over from England and the United States, he says.
I think about this as I hold myself with one hand and one foot. Maybe I trust imports, anti-seismic systems and the large industries of the first world. Globalization gives me security and I am able to reach another support.
The price per person for one hour is $20, or ¢10,000, but if it is a large group it could cost half that. That includes everything necessary to climb: shoes, harness, magnesium (so hands don’t sweat and to increase friction) and ropes. For experienced climbers, they offer the necessary equipment those who know how to lead routes.
Besides providing all the equipment, Steven takes charge of assuring top-rope for those who have never climbed before. In this mode, the climber is always tied off to the highest part of the tower and doesn’t run the risk of coming loose from the wall or slipping.
“The session depends on the energy of the person or the group, but usually three climbs up the wall is enough. It takes about an hour,” Steven tells us.
Climbing provides an opportunity to escape conventional tourism and try something different from the typical Nosara activities like surfing or yoga. It’s a new way to see the landscape, the beach and life in general.
Put on your shoes and climb with fear and everything you’ve got. Alex Honnold, professional climber, says “for me, the crucial question isn’t how to climb without fear – that’s impossible – but how to deal with it when it creeps into your nerve endings.”