La Piedra or ‘The Stone’ is located an hour or two north of Medellin near the town of Guatapé, the city famous for its spring-like climate and famous flower festival. Formed millions of years ago, the monolithic rock formation towers up over 200 metres and weighs a staggering 66 million tons.
Although the rock has been eroded and smoothed over, it has one crack which runs down one of its sides. It’s here that over 740 steps have been placed in a zig-zag all the way up, reassembling giant stich work covering a scar. These stairs have created access for visitors who want to see the rocks spectacular view point.
At the top, hikers can find gorgeous views over the Colombia countryside as well as some obligatory souvenir stalls. There plenty of seats and some of the vendors sell cold beer, the perfect accompaniment to the views which stretch out in every direction.
For years there has been a dispute over the rock’s ownership. Both the towns of Guatapé and El Peñol, which are roughly the same distance from La Piedra claim it to be theirs. The residents of Guatapé felt so strongly about it they began painting the town’s letters on the northern face. After ‘G’ and part of ‘U’ this was noticed by the residents of El Peñol who quickly sent a large mob to stop it.
In the 1940s the rock was declared a national monument by the Colombian government and it wasn’t until July 1954 that the rock was officially climbed. Later in 2006, Pedro Nel Ramirez, Luis Villegas and Ramón Díaz spent five days scaling it using sticks that were fixed to the rock’s walls.
Interestly, a new plant species was found at the top of the monolith by a German scientist which was named Pitcairnia heterophylla.
To see the rock for yourself, get in contact to start planning you trip to Colombia.