There’s something to be said for combining travel and sport. An almost routine activity like climbing can become a huge adventure when you step out of your familiar geographical zone and immerse yourself in a whole new environment and culture. These are the journeys that have the power to change you.

A van overloaded with too many people sputters and coughs as it rolls to a stop in front of an old, ill-kept hotel. Bald, hand-patched tires let out a sigh of relief as a band of American climbers tumble out of the rickety jalopy that has been their home for the last 10 hours. Overhead, two thousand feet of striped, limestone cliffs loom above dense jungle as Ben Spannuth unpacks his gear from the back of the make-shift bus. The travel day is at an end. Tomorrow, he will explore the caves eroded into the face of the rock.