Climbing on the Brac not for the novice

Cayman Brac’s wonderfully craggy bluff is a beautiful thing.

And for the experienced climber at least, it’s also a challenge worth taking up. Currently, however, there is something of a lack of organised and experienced people to assist – and the challenges are truly not for beginners.

The routes are steep and even accessing the start of them can be very dangerous if you don’t have experience climbing sea cliffs.

However, online there is an independent site called Climb Cayman Brac that outlines quite a few of the dos and don’ts of the bluff. It also highlights some of the ascents available, from Orange Cave to Stargazer Wall and all manner of scary-looking ascents including the improbable overhang of Love Shack Wall.

“It’s hard to describe what’s so different about a climbing vacation to Cayman Brac because it’s not just great climbing,” says the website.

“The tropical island setting, the snorkeling and diving, the people, and the relief of not having civilization pressing on you all combine with the great rock climbing into a unique and wonderful experience.”

Cool water

It highlights the December to April season as the best time to embark and suggests climbing in the shade, with tradewinds steady to cool off the water.

“When most people think of a tropical island, they think of places like Hawaii, Grand Cayman, or places in Mexico that are crawling with tourists in flowered shirts and funny hats walking between high-rise hotels and pushy merchants hawking tacky, overpriced souvenirs.

“Cayman Brac isn’t like that. It’s still unspoiled by big industry or tourism. There’s only 1,200 people on the island and maybe 100 of them are tourists. There’s no high-rise condos, no traffic (no traffic lights), no lines, no problems. It’s very unusual to find other climbers on the island so there’s no crowds or waiting for routes and the rock isn’t polished. When climbing at the Point, the only people you see are fishermen waving from their boats.”

There are seven distinct climbing areas on the Brac, advises the site, with two over-ocean rappel access areas enough to ‘intimidate even experienced climbers’.

So for the next few months the Brac may well be inundated with those athletic types whose raison d’etre is to conquer the difficult climbs. But do be safe – this is firmly something for very experienced climbers only.

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