Skalan2 en La Habana: Overcoming the rocks

It’s almost dawn. The night before, he barely slept. Anxiety about the next day’s challenges kept him awake. A friend had suggested he go rock climbing.

Climbing in Havana? Impossible, he thought.

He has vertigo, but he wants to overcome it. Suddenly he finds himself in front of a stone wall over 8 meters high, with a harness strapped tight to his body and his heart pounding. He puts out a hand, supports his foot, lifts himself up from the ground.

Daniel has just experienced one of the most intense sensations of his life.

Daniel David Paulovich is a young man from Havana. He has always loved extreme sports: surfing, diving, skateboarding. As a teenager, he swapped soccer for rock climbing, and today, he feels he could not have made a better choice.

What began as a hobby soon became the opportunity to open his own venture. Hence, almost two years ago, close to the summer of 2019, what is now Skalan2 en La Habana began to take shape: a recreational rock climbing experience.

“I took many close friends to climb so they could enjoy the experience, and then more and more people wanted to join us. They were interested in practicing this sport with us, and that’s where the idea of creating a climbing project for beginners came from,” he tells us.

Seeing how people have fun, overcome their fears and bring out their inner courage in each climb motivated Daniel to investigate and learn more in order to improve his skills.

He bought equipment from internationally certified brands to practice the sport and designed the experience with a friend. It includes circuits in the top-rope modality (one of the safest in the world). In the Cuban capital, the experience is mainly offered at two sites: one located near Almendares Park (with a climb approximately 8 meters high) and another in Cojímar. The team also organizes excursions to Jibacoa, where the height triples and exceeds 20 meters.

This movement has gained strength in Cuba in recent years, to the point that there are more than 1,000 routes identified by the Alianza Cubana de Equipadores (ACE) for rock climbing throughout the country, about 700 of them in Viñales, Pinar del Río province.

Before each climb, Daniel offers his clients a kind of class or workshop, where he explains not only the technical aspects of rock climbing, but also many other details of this world. He and his team are passionate about this sport.

“All the equipment we use is certified by the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation, the same that certifies the Olympic Games, for example, it’s very rigorous. As long as we work with these types of accessories and we have taken courses and workshops, the risk is minimal and controlled, which is why it is a sport that can be practiced by children up to the elderly. More than 3,300 people have taken part in the project and we have never had any accidents, nor have we had any injured clients. As a project, what we really offer is safety,” Daniel emphasizes.

Skalan2 en La Habana has grown and diversified to the point of offering a series of nature tourism experiences, mainly focused on local tourists. They help people’s health, combat stress, discover nature within the city, get out of the urban environment and experience the adrenaline that this type of activity offers. Beyond climbing, these young people also enjoy hiking, difficult access routes and many other extreme sports.

“When you are climbing the rock you forget about the problems, about everything around you, you only concentrate on overcoming the obstacles one by one, and that’s how life works: one by one, overcoming the adversities. It makes me happy to see people overcome them. That people can get out of their comfort zone. I’m glad that in Cuba we have the opportunity to do different things, to enjoy new things.”

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