Las Canteras upper slabs as seen from the old highway to Tumbaco.Las Canteras de Cumbaya
are huge volcanic slabs suitable for climbing scattered right next to the old highway to Tumbaco and just 10-minute-walk from Quito. This area offers a wide diversity of interesting and challenging routes rated from 5.7 to 6.11b (YDS) and are about 12 meters high.
At the moment there are eleven fairly spaced bolted routes with fixed
anchors at the top of each rock slab. A perfect area for hiking, trad
climbing, sport climbing, toprope, bouldering and scrambling.
It is a very accessible area with lots of routes and cracks to choose from, as well as great views of the Cordilleras Oriental and Occidental and its highest elevations such as Cayambe, Antisana, Cotopaxi and Rucu Pichincha
with Quito’s skyscrapers at its foothills.
The views of the historic neighborhood of Guapulo and its Sanctuary built in 1644, and located right across the almost 300-meter-deep-cliff below Quebrada El Baran are magnificent. A nice feeling while you are climbing because it gives you a sense of climbing at very high altitude.
Quito and Las Canteras map.
There are two ways of getting to Las Canteras. One is by car
; take the Tunnels to the Cumbaya valley (Tuneles Avenida Guayasamin). They are located on Avenida 6 de Diciembre at Plaza Argentina traffic circle (old Partidero a Tumbaco). Make a U turn to the right as soon as you exit the tunnels and take the gravel track on your right side. If you get to the toll gate, means that you passed it already. The rock climbing formations will come into view in just 2 minutes.
The other way of getting to Las Canteras is walking
. The trailhead is located right at the tunnels entrance. Climb the stairways onto the tunnels and follow an obvious dirt trail for about 5 minutes. It becomes into a paved road shortly for a while and turns into a dirt trail once again soon after. Down climb a set of metal stairs until getting to the old highway to Tumbaco.
There’s a deep cliff to the right side (Quebrada El Baran), so it is advisable to keep yourself the closest possible to the hill’s side in order to prevent a fall. Las Canteras can be seen in the distance as soon as you exit the last metal stairway.
You can’t miss them because the obvious lines of ascent have been made more obvious with large painted arrows showing the climbable routes. Scrambling around in this area will turn up more slabs with more arrows.
The best way of getting to Plaza Argentina traffic circle is by taking the “Ecovia”
(ecological busses, USD. 0.25). You can take them either at Rio Coca
station in the north of Quito or at La Marin
station near the old town. You should get off at Parada San Martin, 5 minutes (walking) away from the trailhead.
Lower Slab. Crag 1.
Lower Slab. Crag 1.
High-angle wall. Features several narrow flat rock shelves. YDS Degree Rating: 5.11a
Easy crack, good for jamming. Friends # 2 and # 3. YDS Degree Rating: 5.9
Vertical wall with narrow shelves. Moderate difficulty. YDS Degree Rating: 5.10c
Inner crack. Great for classic climbing with the use of a rack of nuts and friends # 2 and # 3. YDS Degree Rating: 5.9
Vertical wall, good for feet technique. Features narrow shelves. YDS Degree Rating: 5.10c
Easy crack, good for free climbing by jamming the hands and feet into the cracks and pulling upward. YDS Degree Rating: 5.9
Full of rock shelves, ideal for feet and hands techniques. YDS Degree Rating: 5.7
Wall with moderate inclination. Ideal for leading techniques. YDS Degree Rating: 5.1
Upper Slabs. Crags 2 and 3.
Upper Slabs. Crags 2 and 3.
The hardest of the routes. It has a wide overhang projecting out below the top. YDS Degree Rating: 6.11b
Located at the right side of route # 9. Great for beginners. YDS Degree Rating: 5.9
Vertical wall. It has a narrow overhang, easy to negotiate. YDS Degree Rating: 5.10a
Usually, a few slings, carabiners, nuts, three quickdraws and a 50-meter rope will suffice for all the routes.
The routes are bolted and the anchoring systems on top of each slab are very well placed for setting climbing protection or top roping.
- You should take the gravel road towards the crags right after exiting the tunnels. In order to do so, pull over to your right side and back up by the gravel road.
Traffic on this highway runs pretty fast therefore it'll be easy to cause an accident if you stop suddently. If you miss the gravel road you should get ready to pay USD. 0,40 at the tunnel's toll gate which is located 100 meters beyond.
- Not parking permits or fees.
- No water available near the climbing area. Bring water and insect repellent.
- Beware of the big dog at the western trailhead's entrance. Always ask the guard to leash the dog before you get in.
: A couple landslides have occured during the April month (2011). The trail (cliffs) is getting very exposed. This area is getting unsafe too due to robberies. It's advisable to visit this area on weekends when you'll find more climbers. Use the eastern tunnel entrance to get to the trailhead. Hitchiking at both tunnel's entrances is easy.
Due to the proximity to Quito, camping at Las Canteras is not advisable.
Other helpful informationGuide books
- Ecuador, Climbing and Hiking Guide
. Rob Rachowiecki and Mark Thurber. (6th Edition). Aug. 2008.
- Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands
. Regis St Louis, Lucy Burningham, Aimee Dowl, Michael Grosberg. (8th Edition). Aug. 2009.