Monday, August 5, 2013

Climbing the Cerro de las Tres Cruces and Santiago de Cali

Okay, so I've talked a lot about my climbs lately; I've done a few. I headed over to Santiago de Cali, Colombia (usually just referred to as 'Cali') this past weekend, and since they also have a lot of mountains in the area, I decided to pick one with a very scenic view to climb. I chose the "Cerro de las Tres Cruces" (which means the Hill of the Three Crosses). Oh boy, where do I start?

I totally underestimated this hill. I mean, I have climbed the Monserrate in Bogota a few times, and since that was pretty difficult, I thought this would be easy peasy. For those who do not know, Bogota is about 8,600 ft (2,600 meters) above sea level. Cali is only about 3,200 ft (1,000 meters) above sea level. So I figured I can breathe and my life should be a whole lot easier. Wrong!

At the beginning of this hill, it looked just like any other, with a road for cars and a sidewalk for humans. But then I noticed that there did not seem to be any steps. Usually, there are steps so people can climb up. It was pretty much a slope. But I thought what better way to work my legs, huh? So I kept on.

After just about 5 minutes, there was no more road, and someone directed me to the path that goes up. It was dirt road. I looked at it and thought "Even better! More work for my legs!" As I kept on on the slope, it stopped at a point and I could see this view of the city. Magnifico! Frankly, I thought it was over, but I was just getting started.

After asking for directions, a cop pointed in the "up" direction. I saw people coming down, but this truly looked like rocks. Guess that was the end of leisurely walking. At that point, I had to start using my hands and legs to climb, like I was really climbing. There were spots where I could walk for a few seconds, but beyond that, it was pretty much climbing. 

I noticed no one (except one dude) was doing this alone and no one was carrying anything that could be a hindrance. And it suddenly hit me how dangerous this really was. I left my water bottle somewhere (Yes, I littered. Sue me) to ease the weight. I thought about turning back a couple of times because if I just slipped and fell, who would tell my mum that my life ended in Santiago de Cali? But I knew going down this hill would be more dangerous that climbing up so I kept going, and I'm glad I did.

When I got to the top after about an hour and a half, I was so proud of myself. I learned a few lessons about being more prepared, and that some activities need to be done with someone else. I truly used my upper body strength that day. Although breathing was way easier than it was in Bogota, the actual physical strength you need to get through this hill is tougher. Here is my victory photo!

I also met a great French dude up there that insisted we take this photo with the makeshift barbell. Turned out to be awesome :)

Coming down was not as physically tasking, but it was a little more dangerous because of the probability of slipping. So I paired up with the only other person I saw alone, and we looked out for each other. He was awesome and I would have been much much slower without him. Thank you Fernando (or was it Alejandro)!

My body was pretty beat afterwards, but this was an experience I would not trade for the world. Cali is a really beautiful city, and I got to see it from the top of the world. Literally. Took me forever and a day, but it was a real workout.

PS. If you ever decide to go to Colombia, you must do Cali. And if you are in Cali, you must stay at the Casa de Miraflores. It is the best bed and breakfast I have been in, and I had a better experience than any hotel. The staff is great, the location is great, the rooms are very well kept, and you feel like you're part of a family there.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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