*Guest post from Heather of Just a Colorado Gal.
Upon returning from a volunteer trip to Ouanminthe, Haiti with Mission 29.2, our group decided to spend a couple of nights relaxing in the Dominican Republic. We all scampered down to the sand, but just as everyone else tore off their clothes and jumped into the ocean, I spied an obtrusive and rugged-looking tower looming at the end of the beach. I coined this “my mountain,” and immediately told my friend Angel that we needed to climb it.
Word spread amongst our group that Angel and I were climbing the mountain the following day, and before I realized what had happened, a group of 10 or 11 other volunteers had agreed that they wanted to join us on the adventure. I strongly believe that more is always merrier, but I will admit that I was slightly nervous! I knew this tower wouldn’t have any designated trails, and while I was confident in my own climbing and navigating abilities, I wasn’t too sure about the others. Most of them live in flatland urban areas such as Chicago or Miami, so my tower was going to be quite a unique experience for them.
A group of twelve volunteers met on the beach the following morning before we all headed up to the base of the tower. After picking our way through some sloppy mud bogs, we found crazy looking vines that hung down from the trees at the very peak of the tower. Naturally, monkey acrobatics ensued because we were nothing if not Tarzan-esque!
After swinging around on the ropes, we all spread out around the base of the mountain. I decided to tackle the tower from the backside where the rock looked more solid and edgy. As long as there were decent grooves and grips, I knew we would have no problem climbing up to the top.
The bottom third of the tower was straight forward and I was able to pick out a route that followed a drainage line. I stopped for a second to take a breather and realized that half of the group had decided to turn back and head down to the resort. I was glad that they were aware of their own abilities and had made the appropriate decision for themselves. However, five others had stuck with the climb and I was confident that all six of us would somehow find the top of this tower.
Miraculously, everyone in our newly formed group appeared to trust my climbing instincts and I was convinced that the tower was climbable. The middle third was completely vertical, but all of the foot holds were plenty large so there was zero fear of a misstep or slide. In fact, the tower had so much vegetation growing out of the side that I barely realized we were a couple hundred feet in the air!
However, things got trickier as we approached the top of the tower. While the rock was still solid, the steps and reaches grew further apart, and the girls in the group had to really extend their limbs in order to grab onto something—not an easy feat with no protection. Additionally, the rock was insanely sharp! I’m not sure if it was volcanic, but it reminded us of petrified coral. I’ve experienced my fair share of painful rock, but nothing quite like this.
Naturally, the crux move was located three feet from the lip of the tower, but everyone managed to pull themselves over the final hurdle and arrive at the top. The summit of the tower wasn’t flat however; instead, it was covered in steep, spike-like juts of the crazy sharp rock. We hopped from ledge to ledge, being careful not to fall through the cracks. Naturally, I managed to miss one and ended up with a three inch-long scar to prove it. Nothing like a bloody souvenir, right?!
The view from the top of the tower was beautiful, and the aqua ocean stretched out as far as we could see. However, the takeaway from the day was the group dynamic that the five of us had developed while climbing. We had trusted each other while tackling the mountain and developed a deeper bond in doing so. There is nothing like the great outdoors to bring people together!
-Heather is an adventurer at heart. She shares many amazing outdoor adventures on her blog, Just a Colorado Gal.