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Cuba far away

Cuba is far ...

(author A. Trubachev)


The event was designed and organized by the School of Mountaineering and Climbing AlexClimb. Climbing equipment was provided by CAMP. Sincere thanks to all!

Rock climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino

first impressions

Torn shreds of clouds sweep over the porthole, the plane begins to decline. I can not believe this, because of the prolonged punctuality Aeroflot flight can finally end.

Our flight coming to an end, the air temperature at the airport of arrival plus 19, local time zero hours.

Slightly jumped, the plane went around the strip and without any delay rolled to the low-rise buildings of the airport. Soon a crowd of passengers is discharged through the dark intestine stuffy arrival hall. Have we got ?!

Little untidy airport sultry tropical night. After wandering a bit in the motley crowd welcoming and making sure that my fears were justified (because of flight delays at eight o'clock our friends were not able to meet us), I went for a walk among prehistoric monsters automobile in order to find some more modern means of transportation . Soon the quest to succeed, and on a small minibus all our sleepy company went to the first key point of our program - the bus station, from which the next morning left us the right bus. Since local time past midnight, and the bus was leaving on schedule at nine in the morning, looking for a place to spend the night in the city was pointless - fees and travel would eat all the time remaining. I took a heavy, but the only right decision - to spend the night at the station.

Time machine invented science fiction writers. But the journey to the past, as it turns out, can easily become a reality - enough to make a fraction of the imagination, a little effort.

Rock climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino arrival in Havana, we have translated the clock seven days ago, and were 20-30 years or so in the past. Although, depending on which to judge. If cars - then all 50 machines - the first thing that catches the eye. Fleet in Cuba consists mainly of Soviet and American car production, with all the Soviet machine 1975-85 model years, and American - 1940-50. All rarities on the go and in active use thanks to the climate and caring owners.

Then came less visual, but no less strong feeling of something very familiar and long forgotten. Yes, this is it. Despite the palm trees, tropical heat and the skin color of the local population ... Socialism ... How much of this word for the heart of Russian ... And no obvious signs have not yet caught the eye, just a general feeling that something painfully familiar expression in the eye.
Bus Station

Rock climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino So, we got to the bus station. In Havana, there are two. One for the poor Cubans, the other for wealthy foreigners. Accordingly, the first one can sweat, go to the inflated by overcrowding in an old, smelly bus for a few Cuban pesos, the second - ёzhitsya from the cold in a luxurious, air-conditioned car, ship, buying a ticket worth several tens of dollars - an average monthly income of a Cuban family.

After visiting the station's restroom, admiring citizens descended on the picturesque and friendly picture of sleeping on cardboard, I have concluded that we are at the station for the poor. This is not upset. On The Contrary. If we compare with the Russian service, for example, at the Kazan station, the comparison will not be in our favor. In addition, the warm, dry and friendly - this is especially unusual for the Russian mentality.

Rock climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino Home wall of the building is covered with highly Station painted revolutionary themes - huge picture in detail tells about all the stages of the Cuban Revolution. In the center of the composition - the elderly, mustachioed inspirer of Jose Marti, the fusion artist in a burst of inspiration with flying in the background horsemen with drawn swords, right - column harsh workers and peasants with the slogan "No tyranny!". Very modestly, but with dignity, in the right corner of the composition - Fidel Castro. With piercing eyes and wise fatherly smile on his bearded face harsh, he pointed the barrel of a machine gun at something hidden away and invisible to the viewer. In the background merge with vines and dense tropical vegetation enemies of the revolution - traitors to snake a smile and a gun in his hand, gamblers, corrupt woman ... admire the masterpiece can be long and thoughtfully.

Toward morning we strongly suggested to move from the spacious common room waiting for foreigners little zagonchik equipped kiosk dollar - hence, the few foreigners at this station, centrally loaded into the super-bus, making a short stop here.

Rock climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino The next day, a little after noon, we walked briskly toward the red with gray streaks of rocks along the dusty road amidst lush tobacco plantations surrounding the small town of Viñales. Climbing training that day did not work - two sleepless nights did their dirty deed - the balance of forces and the remaining time before dinner, we decided to spend a walk and local attractions.

The first thing that caught my path was a market. Two or three merchant, hiding from the sun under a small shed, excited with our appearance. Trade they obviously did not prosper. In stock - bananas, pineapples and one giant eggplant. Having changed a little money on bananas, we moved on. The road to the cliffs over the middle of the field of tobacco, the strange high barn, made of palm leaves. Our walk was soon attracted the attention of the plantation owner - an elderly farmer who gladly rushed to our aid. First of all our climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino new friend gave us a tour of his plantation. Shed proved dryer cigar tobacco, manufacturing technology which, as it turns out, is very difficult. Tobacco dried for several months at different height levels, moving as it dries up and up. Many stories to tell about the production of cigars, the hospitable owner took us to a hole in the fence of barbed wire, through which we got to the foot of a high cliff. More convenient passage was not provided because the rocks are only climbers go and live at feed pigs. And for those and for others to climb a fence is not difficult. Cliff went up steeply to a height of about 100 meters. A little closer inspection, I saw the bolt, but no information about the routes on the rock was not applied (as it turned out, mark routes Cubans generally not accepted). Taking a walk under the wall, we found a lot of climbing routes equipped and conceived a program about climbing the next day. After some time, we rejoined the owner of the tobacco field. He came with an armful of dry leaves Climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino tobacco and firm decision to continue his lecture on the cigar industry, this time with a visual aid. Soon, all of us have presented a pair of rolled cigars freshly and invited to visit for a cup of coffee. Since interrupt did not want to walk, the invitation was moved to tomorrow and then went on. Moving along the cliffs, after a while we got to steeply up the concrete stairs that led to the entrance of a deep cave. Finally, we met like-minded people. Several people enthusiastically climbed on strong overhanging the track, laid on the walls and ceiling of the cave. Met. Agreed to climb together the next day.

By evening, After working up a decent appetite, we went back under the hospitable roof of our hosts, where we waited for a sumptuous dinner.

Rock climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino In the Oriental calendar, this year - the year of the cock. I do not know how popular a similar chronology in Cuba, but there is a lot of cocks. Well, cock - nice bird. For some natural anomaly, roosters in Vinales were, first, half-plucked, and secondly - tirelessly flashy. By the way, it is possible that one logically follows from the other - if the bird during the life begin to peel, it will inevitably lead, eventually, to a serious mental disorder.

- Strange, do not seem to shout the time - I said, going to bed and heard leaping trill ...

After two hours, trying unsuccessfully to sleep under continuous Ku-ka-re-ku every twenty seconds, I have said very different words ...

When morning polite host asked what we want for dinner, lobster or roasted pig, - the answer was unanimous - cock.

- What a cock, fried or boiled?

- That's it! They all pointed their fingers towards strolling happily culprit night anxiety.

... But the death of a comrade learned nothing from his fellow writers. In Vinales - cock mafia, leading a merciless war with the hated tourists.
Rock Climbing

Rock climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino In one of his speeches, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro said: revolution committed climbers and cavers!

The basis for this claim was that during the guerrilla war against the Batista regime, the revolutionaries fought in the Sierra Maestra mountains, where they often had to use climbing equipment, and they hid from the enemy in numerous deep caves. Despite such a rich historical background, mountaineering, rock climbing and caving as sports until recently hardly developed in Cuba.

The situation has changed radically since 1998, when Cuba first visited European climbers. They began to explore the cliffs near the town of Rock Climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino Viñales, located 170 kilometers from Havana, in the province of Pinar del Río. Wide valley, a strange combination of flat fields of red and characteristic shape of high hills, which the local people call mogotes. Steep, often at the base of steep, overgrown with thick top barbed vegetation, rugged deep karstic galleries mogotu are of exceptional interest for rock climbing and caving. In the Valley of Viñales, in a relatively small area, focusing a variety of forms of rocky terrain - smooth walls up to 200 meters high, with a huge cave with stalactites and bizarre sag, powerful overhang with tuffs - sprouted through the rock and turned into stalactites plant roots characteristic gray rock to the surface, like a frozen ocean and ripples of the vertical edges, sharp as knives.

Curious Cubans soon appreciated the new sport. Rock climbing trails in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino became more and more growing number of Cubans climbers. To date, Viñales - is a popular climbing center, with lots of interesting trails from 5 to 8 grade of difficulty. Local climbing community, experiencing great difficulties with the equipment to get that Cuba is not possible, however, constantly equip new routes, developing new rock bastions - tracks appear almost daily! Every year, in Viñales comes more and more climbers from Europe, Asia, Canada. Here are just Americans almost no ...

The next day after our arrival in Vinales, I met with people living in the neighborhood climber from Germany - Lars Porsche, who provided me with all the necessary information about the location and classification routes. Now we are ready to workout! Next, on the rocks!

The trail goes steeply up through the gorge, and soon we find ourselves on a large bright clearing, surrounded on all sides by cliffs. This "Ensenada de Raol" - the place of our first close acquaintance with rocks Liberty Island.

Winter ... February ... In Moscow gloomy frozen people every morning dig huge snowdrifts in the hope of finding their cars ...

Rock climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino Here rocks overgrown with cacti, agaves and palm trees, even in the shade feel hot to the touch ... Climb in the sun is almost impossible. We We fixed the first few runs on the shady side, warmed up. Soon halts crowd of Cubans, with some of them we met the day before. Struck up a lively conversation. Remembered know in common: cat Matroskin, the postman Pechkin, poor Wolf and Hare cunning. Russian cartoons proved to be very popular among Cuban climbers. Looked brought from Moscow photos. Type of snow caused a storm of emotions - never in the history of the temperature in Cuba did not fall below zero.

Then together we went to climb in Cueva Larga (Big Cave). It is unlikely that we ourselves have been able to find this place. Narrow cleft invisible hidden among heaps of stones and bushes. Through it, you find yourself in a large and very high oval cave climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino form. Width of about five meters at the bottom, a length of about twenty Cueva Larga is open at the top of a natural well with walls about 50 meters in height - ideal cool place for climbing at any time of the day, as the sun gets inside only in the dispersed state, leaving outside all the heat and heat. On the walls of the cave were laid two dozen routes 6 and 7 grade. Climbing is a very peculiar, for smooth sag and stalactites, as clues sometimes have to use large clear quartz crystals.

The next few days we climbed in different climbing areas, each of them was interesting and unusual in its own way. Especially memorable route called "Wasp factory, 7b" (Wasp Factory). The route length of more than 30 meters laid on sorokagradusnuyu overhang and ends on a giant climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino stalactite length of about 15 meters. A name came because the route is located next to a large colony of wild wasps - their elongated cell hanging on a rock in large quantities. Such neighborhood adds a certain feeling of climbing, spicy, so to speak, the scent ... But, speaking seriously, wasps are usually busy with their business and not aggressive. During our climb only one party bothered to be bitten, and then, by chance - apparently, the wasp has confused his house poor guy with a T-shirt - and rock shuddered from chilling scream ...

The only thing missing in this earthly paradise, it's proximity to the sea. It is located 50 kilometers north of Vinales. On the fourth day we halved our climbing and after lunch went for a swim. But that's another story!

Rock climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino On the main street of Viñales, in the park there is a small sculpture depicting a particularly revered heroes of the revolution. On a stone slab box that says: "There is a growing one nation that honors its heroes" ... Another slogan. But if you think about it, maybe there is a certain sense?


Rock climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino Ride the sea helped us living in the neighborhood doctor, the owner of a luxury car Chrysler New Yorker 1945 release. Huge chest on wheels, where without any effort and compaction fit our entire company.

Already approaching the coast, the doctor asked, have we forgotten to bring our passports. Learning that passports are not forgotten, but deliberately not taken, he was very upset. It turns out that to get to the beach is not so easy - access mode. Barrier blocked the road. Two harsh officials with big guns suspiciously inspected our car. Fortunately, I have found themselves with a driver's license proving my foreign nationality. Otherwise could not let ... Circus. Perhaps, therefore, the northern coast of Cuba guarded by Cubans who want to resettle in the United States. The distance separating the illegal immigrants to fulfill their dreams - just 100 kilometers, if you wish, you can sail on a mattress, there are also cases. Another version, access control to the beach - it's just the official obiralovka for tourists. For raising the barrier had to pay five euros from the nose.

Rock climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino Sea ... To be precise, the Atlantic Ocean. But not in the name of business. Dazzling beaches of white shell sand stretches for tens of kilometers, the water near the shore bright azure - the surf picks up from the bottom of the sand. At 200 meters from the murky turquoise cloud abruptly ends, the water becomes a normal, dark blue-green color.

I brought from Moscow mask with fins and first went to dive. Do it on the shore was not particularly interesting because of elevated turbidity surf, and where turbidity ended, it was too deep for diving. The first thing I saw diving to the coral reef were two motley butterfly wing. They lay flat on top of coral exactly opposite each other at a distance of a little more than palm. Intrigued, I swam closer and literally from a distance of two feet found between the wings thick fish, completely covered with long spines and thorns and completely merge with the landscape. Actually, it was her fins. Then I was scared very big fish, more than a meter in length, similar to tuna, metnuvshy aside because of my back. Although it is not known who is more scared.

Rock climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino Then we lay on the beach and listen to the ocean surf roars. Somewhere I heard that this is the first sound, which appeared on the ground ...

After strolling along the beach before sunset and enjoy the enchanting spectacle stretching into the sea the sun, we went back to Viñales in a state of quiet umirotvoritenya.

But, as it turned out, the adventures of the day we were expecting more.

Extreme lay in wait for us on the way back. Passengers have expressed a desire to know at what speed racing on poorly paved road our iron horse. As on the dashboard in front of the driver worked only light and the speedometer was not even an arrow, I've included GPS, to use it to measure the speed of movement.

To better watch the road, the doctor turned on the main beam, beating two meters from the car, and began to closely look into the small display navigator confidently sinking into the floor the gas pedal. The car slowly accelerate. The road could not be seen. The people in the back seat fell silent at the front closed his eyes. The doctor pressed on the gas and decided once and for all put the speed record for a car of this age category. 75 km / h ... (asphalt ends), 80 km / h ... (he guessed that would turn?), 85 km / h ... (we fly slaboosveschёnnuyu village, from under the wheels squealing pigs and chickens fly feathers), 90 km / h ... (started again asphalt), 100 km / h! (Who would have thought!), 103 km / h ... (asphalt again ends). Beaming with joy, the doctor released the pedal ... The next day the whole Vinales knew that rattletrap doctor can go over a hundred. And they asked me to no longer get the device while driving a cab with local.
Santiago de Cuba

Natured aunt at the bus station in Havana raised her eyebrows in surprise:

- Santiago !? That you have forgotten in this hole? There's hot ... And people angry.

Rock climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino on the main street is a memorial complex pronounced revolutionary themes - Prancing horse rider on his sword unsheathed (spitting image Chapaev) against the sky bristling giant rusty bayonets. On the opposite side of the street - a healthy iron shield with a bearded man on it, get out of the bushes with a gun in his hand. Next to the inscription - "Welcome to Santiago - a rebellion in the past, is now welcoming." About hospitality has been some doubt - gloomy looks suspicious borer my back, counter people looked away.

As we said in Havana, in the Sierra Maestra still roam with guns disgruntled group of people for whom it does not matter what kind of power against rebel. Would be a reason not to work and sit with a gun in the bushes, proudly calling such activities "fight for freedom".

Rock climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino Find here the car proved to be difficult. At the first mention of the peak Turquino and villages Las Cuevas interest in the eyes of local taxi drivers disappeared, I was beginning to look as lush hurt. In the end, beating half of the city, I found a man who took me for a dollar to his friend, the consent of the fabulous sum to take us to Las Cuevas. After a while, nabivshis a small, battered "Penny", we drove through the desert road along a continuous series of sun-scorched bushes and stunted fields around the perimeter cased high prickly cacti.

Rock climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino Juicy "crunch!" brought me out of half asleep, in which I stayed through a combination of heat, gasoline Chad and hysterical buzz motor overloaded machine. The road here and there, waving claws, ran numerous thick land crabs, like a small suitcase. Ahead was blue sea ...

To the tiny village of Las Cuevas arrived for dinner.

Rock climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino Peak Turquino - the highest point of the island of Liberty. According to information from a variety of sources, its height is either 1975, or 2005 meters. The history of the development of the mountain range of Sierra Maestra in general, and in particular the peak Turquino is inextricably linked with the history of the Revolution and the Communist Party of Cuba. Places of military glory.

It was a mistake to hope that in this wilderness, you can buy food. Try to do this at a local stall ended in failure - the bread and climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino canned fish are sold only on the cards. Fortunately, on the way to pick up the package had bottles of drinking water - this is the main problem on the coast.

On the second day of our stay on the beach, the local population grew bolder and came with us in cautious trade relations. Brought coconuts, some bread, Mamaia, anon ...

Ebony furtively looked around and hiding behind his hand, whispered sacramental phrase: "Porca muerte" (The dead pig). For greater climbing in Cuba, trekking, climbing Pico Turquino persuasiveness he creaked spent dirty thumb over his unshaven black neck. My hungry imagination worked immediately. I presented our acquaintance catching middle of the dusty yard screaming hysterically neighbor's pig. Then he kept through prickly bushes, flashing proteins bulging eyes, get away from the chase, shook his head pig own loincloth (to drown out the screams), and finally, feeling relatively safe, cuts the throat mining long, serrated knife pirate ...

- No, thank you, it is not necessary "Porca muerte". Coconuts this year took after a surprisingly hearty ...

Over Havana is rain ... bursting with the heat on the eve of the street today, creeping on asphalt steam, give the rain accumulated heat ... Passers-huddle to the eaves of houses in search of protection from large drops of warm ... Ample covered the suite (a tribute to a colonial style in architecture city) absorbed the street crowd, usually filling the entire space of the street, silent cries of street vendors. Hot tropical city froze beneath streams of rain, eagerly, greedily gulping water vents drainpipes.

Get wet and darken dilapidated facades of old mansions, the old man gets wet El Morro and fresh water were running down his cheeks wrinkled rugged, covered with old scars. Get wet rusty guns, empty bench in the park, getting wet Capitol, and a flag with a red triangle and blue and white stripes hung heavily, turning around wet flagpole. Havana in the rain, hiding from the sun under a gray cloud, got kind of quite different from their normal state, like a man suddenly devoid of the need to hide and squints his eyes from the glare, relaxes tense face ...

We stood on the roof of a tall, seven-storey building in the city. Below, on the deserted area occasionally ran fleeing from the rain passersby.

Rain quickly ended and the sun came out. City started, and instantly dry, putting aside all the recent signs of melancholy, healed his usual boisterous life. And we went to climb on the old fortress, where the walls, defended at the time the city from pirate raids, now laid sport climbing routes.

Our Principles

AlexClimb Rule #1 - Safety First

From the very beginning of our activity, here nearly 16 years, the first Principle of work of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb is the Safety Priority. On the basis of this Principle all process of training is based, all programs and rounds are developed and carried out only within this main principle. We consider that at professional approach to development of programs, at personal discipline and correctly put motivation - occupations by mountaineering and rock-climbing are COMPLETELY safe. And from the return - all troubles and accidents in our sport come from nonprofessionalism, from ignorance or neglect by elementary standards of safety, from irrational motivation, from revaluation of own forces and opportunities. All these prerequisites we COMPLETELY EXCLUDE in our work - ours Rock-climbing, Ice climbing and Mountaineering are based on one Principle - the Safety Priority. In rock-climbing, mountaineering and ice climbing, the Priority of Safety of MCS AlexClimb-is your personal security and comfort irrespective of, than we are engaged - we train muscles and we work technology of the movement in the sports hall and on the rock climbing wall, we make the way through snowstorm to top or we relax on golden sand of the Caribbean beach after hot day of trainings on rocks. The Safety priority - the main credo of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb.

AlexClimb Rule #2 - Leave No Trace

Closely interacting with Nature, working with the active programs in mountains, woods, lakes and rivers, we perfectly understand the importance of carefull and respectfull bahavior towards the Nature, for its resources. From the very beginning of our outdoor-activity we adopted rules of  Leave No Trace technique - the standard of behavior of the person accepted in all the civilized world in relation to environment and especially - to the wild nature. After all on the relation of people to the nature near which they exist, itself can draw dalekoidushchy conclusions on the relation of these people to... Where and as we didn't travel - we don't reserve any garbage, we try to reduce whenever possible our influence on environment to a minimum. We clear earlier zagryazyonny tourist parking of the left garbage, we take out and we take out to utilization places that to us other people left there. We consider that only thus, at personal individual consciousness of each citizen, each tourist, climber or autotraveller, we will be able to keep the nature surrounding us in its state, natural, suitable for life, - in it pledge of the healthy future for ourselves and our children.

AlexClimb Rule #3 - Sober Concious

The position of AlexClimb Mountain and rockclimbing School regarding healthy lifestyle is quite clear - we consider that only sober consciousness is capable to fill sincere emotions,  to sympathize, to enjoy life in all its variety. Bright various enjoyable life is possible only on condition of keeping the absolute sobriety and purity of consciousness. Any way of obscuring our perception of reality is intended to do harm to our consciousness and bring harm to our physical health, to replace the true values by false ones, to destroy us physically - to turn us into flabby, weak, senseless, gray herd with empty hazy eyes. We don't force anybody to our point of view, everyone has a God's gift of making his own choice and to destroy himself if that is what he wants... But in AlexCilimb Mountain Climbing School we accept quite certain and very simple set of rules: neither alcohol, nor drugs.