Cayman Brac: Single Pitch Sport Climbing Paradise
A little about Brac: ItÂs a small island in the middle of the Caribbean with 50+ bolted sport routes on beautiful limestone, some 120Â + accessed from the top and directly over the ocean. ThereÂs also pristine scuba and snorkeling, thanks to the relatively low human impact on the island.
After an amazing new years eve, we left Grand Cayman on 1/1/2010 and got to Brac at about 4pm that day. It was a Sunday so the grocery stores were closed, so we headed strait for the bluff view house. Brac could be the friendliest place on earth, the tiny local population is very close knit. The locals know everyone, and tourists are treated like guest on their little island. There arenÂt any traffic lights, and really only 4 roads.
ItÂs 6 pm on the night we arrived, and weÂve already gotten a glimpse of the limestone cliffs that make up the island. We grab the guidebook (essential), rope and draws, and head for orange cave. ItÂs a 5 min drive to the end of the road and we get out and start the approach, itÂs a Beach.
Beach to orange cave and wave wall
Eric Leads the first climb La Orangerie juggy 5.9 on beautiful limestone, I follow on TR as the sun sets, Sara was just happy that we were there!
The next day we head out early to DixonÂs wall, a beautiful section of clean, featured limestone with a huge stalactite band at about 75Â.
Approach to Dixon's Wall
To climb on this wall, please ask permission from Mr. Dixon, itÂs always granted and he is a very friendly fellow. Here his house.
This wall is difficult; Eric battles up DixonÂs delight and manages to get a top rope on it for Sara and I.
Sara on Dixon's
We play around on at Dixon's a little longer then decide to check out the rest of the island and get some groceries.
Later in the day we decide to check out the Point. The wind is whipping up there and weÂre a little worried about how the climbing is effected. We head back to the house, and take in the Island air the rest of the night.
ItÂs the Day 3 Morning and weÂre ready to climb at the point. We head back to the lighthouse, about a 10 min drive and walk to the tops of the climbs. The wind is blowing hard from the Northwest but we set up and Eric rappels of the edge of WhatÂs The Point. About 30 ft above the belay station the rock gets slimey and there are waves crashing over the belay stand. Eric ascends up and delivers the bad news: With these winds there will be no climbing at the point for us. Disappointing yes, but not devastating.
Here's a few shots:
Don't forget Chord for anchors at the point!
View off the point
We head over to the Brac Reef for lunch and some free wi-fi. The wind isnÂt going to die down during our stay, but we see the tides are low and the wave wall is on the south east side. Our new game plan is to climb there.
Brac Reef Beach
At about two in the afternoon we start heading down the beach to the wave wall. We pass some amazing caves in the cliffs, and the approach gets a little tricky with boulders and very sharp rock. Coming through the boulder field we can see the wave wall.
A view of the Wave Wall from the right most caves
The next few hundred yards we watch the waves before crossing a few sections and end up at the right most climbs on the wall. I lead Old School, and set a TR, Sara and Eric follow. It was a great warm up after a nerve-wracking approach.
We climb here for the rest of the evening. One of the last climbs here could easily rank as one of my favorite climbs ever, Calico Jacks Den. After 40Â of smooth limestone and a few tricky moves, you come to a cave which you can walk into, have a seat, and look around. The crux come as you come out of the cave, very exposed to a few tricky moves
Eric in a sweet stance on Calico Jack's
Sitting in the cave
Day 4 was going to be our scuba day, a friend referred us to indepth water sports, and this was our best chance to hop on the boat with another group for cheap, more on this in a minute.
We get up at 5am, itÂs cool and breezy and head to the Orange Cave for a sunrise climbing secession. We werenÂt sure about climbing after a few dives and planning on taking the rest of the day off. The setting is beautiful, and Eric leads Chum Buckets as the sun rises. With a little traverse, we have a TR on Going to Cayman with a Snorkel in My Jeans, and we all get two solid climbs in before weÂre off to dive.
Top Rope Action!
The weather stays cool and we end up not going out too dive. The party that we planned on tagging along with had no interest in being on the ocean in a cool breeze. ItÂs all right though because there is more climbing to do. We hang out on the beach in the cool, 85-degree weather for a little while, and then head back to the house.
We go back to check out Wave wall, but the tides are a little high. We climb the 3 climbs at orange streak, and Sara does her first Sport lead ever on Brac Snack.
(A note about the bolts here: There were beefy stainless steel glue-ins on one or two of these routes, we inspected them, weighted them and decided they were good. DonÂt take my word on it though and make sure every bolt you clip is solid.)
Sara's first lead
After those we get on Ick Theology, a great route with a very tricky start. We climb as the sunsets, and then take in our last beautiful evening.
On Day 5 we get up with the sun for one last bit of climbing at Orange Cave, yes itÂs that good we had to go back one last time. Eric leads Orange Fantasea and I lead La Orangerie for our last climbs on Brac.
Sara top rope
It was a memorable little trip and I canÂt wait to go back. Because we werenÂt the strongest climbers at the time we missed out on some of the best stuff, some one who leads 5.12 sport could spend a solid 2 weeks climbing everything.
The Bolting there is amazing, there were no run outs, and about half were refitted with Tortuga titanium glue-ins. A huge shout out to Skip Harper the pioneer of this awesome area and John Bynes owner of the Bluff View for the awesome place at an awesome rate!
And some Critters:
Fist size hermit crabs
Great TR! How was the SCUBA diving?
We didn't manage to dive on Brac, but the diving on grand cayman was amazing.
Has anyone kiteboarded (or seen it done) on the island? It's certainly windy enough, but I can't find any other info. If I could combine kiteboarding & climbing, it would be quite a paradise!
If you get to Grand Cayman, try swimming with the stingrays (it's better to get there early in the morning before all the tourista boats get there), what an amazing experience! Also, fishing for tarpon (boy are thos suckers big) and barracuda in the mangrove swamps, lotsa fun! It's not a cheap place, but if you're willing to eat at the more local "Jerk" places, the food is great and the natives are more than friendly.
Does anyone know any climbers that live over there or do many trips from the big island? I'm going to be on Grand Cayman July 11th-18th and would love love love to head over to Cayman Brac for some climbing. I have all gear...just no one to go with! Thanks, Jess
to anyone interested check out this site: climbcaymanbrac.com/