Rock Climbing in this secret gem is as captivating as it is tough, and the more you know about its history, the stranger it gets. 

by Brandon Mathis
Adventure Pro

On the western outskirts of Colorado’s San Luis Valley, narrow canyons form hallways of hard volcanic rock, rounded smooth from wind and rain. Corridors are hidden among grassy plains, where secret societies once roamed, worshiped and practiced their faith with rituals of startling and harsh dedication.

Los Hermanos de Penitents, the Brothers of Pentinence, of the 19th and early 20th century were persecuted for reenacting the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Their practice included whipping, flogging and even carrying of a heavy wooden cross for Lent, a significant week of worship for certain sects of Christianity.

Today, the Penitente Brotherhood is free to practice in public. In fact, in Taos, New Mexico, it’s celebrated.

And today, a different kind of disciple frequents Penitente Canyon where they once practiced. One dedicated to fighting natural forces: Gravity, inertia, strength.

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