Daniel Tirado, an adventure junkie, reality show winner, author and owner of Medellin‘s largest climbing gym, spoke about his passion for rock climbing, and his hope to revolutionize the scene in Colombia.
Tirado is well known for his 2011 appearance and win on Colombia’s reality show, “Desafio,” where contestants live in remote areas and compete in challenges, similar to the program Survivor in the United States. Moreover, that same year he published a humorous and thought-provoking book about his backpacking adventures titled, “Viajando Sin Papel Higienico,” (Traveling Without Toilet Paper).
Although he’s surfed Australia and Indonesia, backpacked around the world, and has a long list of adventure sport experience including white water rafting, he admits that he is “100 percent Paisa mountaineer” and prefers rock climbing to anything else.
It was his passion for rock climbing that led Tirado to open Medellin’s largest rock climbing gym, Roc House, in January 2013. His Japanese wife, Yuki, discussed her husband’s eagerness to return to Colombia to fulfill his dream of opening the gym.
“Daniel wanted to open a climbing gym but in Japan it was too expensive and learning Japanese [which is required] proved to be difficult, and furthermore it wasn’t his home,” she told Colombia Reports.
“I want to create the best climbers in all of Colombia,” said Tirado when asked about his impact on the climbing scene in the country. He wants to start a “climbers club with quality instruction that will be able to compete with other Colombian clubs and eventually ones in America.”
“I think places like this [Roc House] help a lot because they offer opportunity for more youth to learn climbing in bigger gyms,” and with more climbers more “rocks are discovered,” added Tirado.
Tirado’s first rock climbing experience came at the age of 10. Colombia at that time was ravaged by violence, with large expanses of the countryside occupied by leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitaries making it difficult to climb outside of the cities. While Tirado acknowledged that he wasn’t a victim of any of the violence, he said that precautionary measures such as barricading houses and refraining from travel were taken.
In 1994, when a business promotional event arrived in Medellin and set up a temporary, makeshift, rock-climbing wall, Tirado got his first crack at the sport. The event instructor – and Tirado’s would be mentor – took an interest in the young climber and brought him to a climbing spot called Matasanos, northeast of Medellin.
“I knew then [at Matasanos] that I wanted this the rest of my life,” said Tirado. For him, it was “the danger, exercise, [and] feeling” that climbing offered – something of which he could not get enough.
“Climbing is extremely safe, but if you make a mistake you die,” said Tirado. In his 2011 book, “Viajando Sin Papel Higienico” (Traveling Without Toilet Paper), he offers a more in-depth explanation of the danger posed by the sport saying, “It’s a discipline in which your life depends on not making mistakes, of staying focused on a goal, and putting your trust in your partner.”
Following his excursions to Matasanos, the young climber was invited to travel and climb with the country’s Mountain Sports and Rock Climbing Federation (FECDME). With FECDME Tirado traveled around Latin America.
Daniel did not finish school in his country because his wanderlust to see the world and boredom at home altered his plans.
“My sports essence was very strong and did not completely lack the scale, because that somehow kept me alive and connected to this wonderful world, but sometimes, if we are not careful, we can become monotonous,” he explained in his book.
Tirado believes that Colombian rock climbing is at the mid-point of its growth. There is still a lot of potential for the scene to expand.
The expert rock climber said his favorites spots in Colombia include Suesca, outside of the country’s capital Bogota, El Peñol a couple hours east of Medellin and – his personal favorite – La Mojarra, Bolivar near Bucaramanga, the capital of the northeastern Santander department.
Tirado’s Roc House gym is located in Barrio Manilla section of El Poblado, Medellin on Cra. 43F at Calle 11-30. For information on hours and pricing visit the Roc House website.
View Three Colombian Rock Climbing Destinations in a larger map
- Interview: Daniel Tirado and wife Yuki
- Viajando: Sin Papel Higienico (Book by Daniel Tirado)
- Daniel Tirado en el Desafio 2011 (Daniel Tirado blog spot)