Featured, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, UIAA

Two of the three South American festivals recognised as part of the annual UIAA Rock Climbing Festival Award recently held their 2018 editions. In this article we profile a hugely successful edition of BLOQUEando, the festival awarded the 2018 UIAA Rock Climbing Festival Development Award.

The UIAA Rock Climbing Festival Award, set up in 2015, is a channel for the UIAA to support and promote global rock climbing development. Its annual focus on a different continent ensures it is international in reach and caters for the promotion of regional objectives. Furthermore, the Award’s criteria ensures only festivals which place a firm emphasis on climber development, youth programmes, best safety practices and environmental protection are nominated, as well as recognising good practice in festival organisation.

The support extends to a practical level. Anne Arran (left), UIAA Management Committee member (BMC) and head of the UIAA Rock Climbing panel, recently visited BLOQUEando held in Pomani, Bolivia (26-28 October). The visit provided the UIAA with the opportunity to see how the festival ran on the ground and to offer the federation’s support in its future development. Additionally it presented an opportunity for participants to find out more about the work of the UIAA, notably key information about the UIAA Safety Label and work in mountain protection.

In an unprecedented step, three festivals received recognition as part of 2018 UIAA Rock Climbing Festival Award.

A report from the Award winner, Festival de Boulder de Mar del Plata (ARGENTINA), whose 2018 edition was also held in October, will be published shortly.

The third festival recognised as part of the 2018 Award, was runner-up, Capixaba Climbing Festival in Brazil. It will be held from 30 November – 2 December.

2018 BLOQUEando: A Review 

BLOQUEando 2018 welcomed 79 participants from the regions of Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and Oruro in Bolivia. International participants attended from Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the USA, with total numbers reaching 134. Congratulations are due to Daniel Aramayo and the whole BLOQUEando team at the festival which included a screening of The Dawn Wall, recognised earlier in the year as UIAA Rock Climbing film of 2018, as part of the rich cultural and social programme.

Members of a local indigenous community organised an opening ceremony as a blessing to the Festival. Climbing was held over the following days in an exceptionally warm and friendly atmosphere, perfect for enjoying some of the one and two pitch routes which had been recently developed and cleaned. “It was the first time for me at BLOQUEando,” explained Camille Reverchon, one of the participants. “The place is really amazing, just a big rock in the middle of the desert, a really nice texture and not polished. Such nice food and people.”

There was a clear eagerness among participants to exchange and share experiences and techniques, an appreciation for being outdoors and a commitment of the organisers to develop climber safety and ensure climbers continue to pursue their vocation with a respect for the environment. A significant percentage of the participants were beginner or intermediate climbers, some of whom had benefited from pre-festival training. Pomani is a region characterised by relatively easy climbing, mostly around Fr 6a level (UIAA VI+) and can be reached within an hour and a half from La Paz. This festival was supported by a host of partners, including Petzl and Adventure Planet, and also by two aspirant mountain guides from the Bolivian Mountain Guides Association (AGMTB).

Photo: Victor Reyesmar/OutdoorCapture 

“It was a great moment for BLOQUEando and for the development of climbing in Bolivia to receive Anne Arran from the UIAA at the festival and to receive the UIAA Rock Climbing Festival Development Award,” explained Marie Pissoort, from the Festival Organising Committee. “For two years, BLOQUEando has been rethinking its objectives and has identified that development of climbing in the country as the main goal of the event. Not only the organisation of a three-day festival, but all the effort and activities during the year: discovering new sectors, developing them, promoting them, organizing climbers’ meetings and some small boulder competitions and organizing safety classes with the collaboration with the Association of Bolivian Mountain Guides in La Paz. The UIAA prize is a real recognition of that work and of the fact that we are going in the right way to develop climbing in Bolivia. We will continue to develop the climbing community in Bolivia.”

Photo: Victor Reyesmar/OutdoorCapture 

One of the highlights of this year’s BLOQUEando was the staging of Bolivia’s first ever helicopter mountain rescue course. This was organised in conjunction with Socorro Andino Boliviano (SAB) – Bolivian Andean Rescue who have UIAGM Bolivian Mountain Guides as part of their team. This is a significant development which will help improve mountain safety in Bolivia and is the result of an incredible organisational effort. Further details, in Spanish:

The final day of this training took place at Pomani during BLOQUEando. Instructors included Sandra Leal, Edy Grange and Charles Perritaz and the project was supported by Ifremmont Mountain rescue, the Airbus foundation and the TSL & Ferno Brands. An incredible organisational effort.


The 2019 UIAA Rock Climbing Festival Award will focus on Asia. The application phase opens in early January. Further details will be available soon. UIAA member federations on the Asian continent are encouraged to get in touch and help promote the Award and festivals in their regions.


The UIAA launched an international events calendar during the summer of 2018. To find a rock or ice climbing festival near you, or to register your event, please visit our dedicated calendar.


If your brand, organisation or cause has a natural affinity with rock climbing and is interested in partnering the international UIAA Rock Climbing Festival Award please contact Rob Adie.


UIAA Rock Climbing Festival Award

Main Image: Victor Reyesmar/OutdoorCapture. All other images unless captioned: Anne Arran