We flew into Monterrey on Dec. 21st and rode in a taxi from the airport to La Posada at El Potrero Chico (EPC). The drive time was about 45 minutes. This is our first view of EPC on the drive there. The climbing is concentrated in the notch canyon just right of center in the photo.
We got settled into our campsite at La Posada straight away. It cost us $5 per night per person at La Posada which includes hot showers, use of a kitchen with refrigerator and all the other kitchenly amenities you'd need and free wi-fi. Luis, the 30 year-old owner, is a great guy and runs an excellent operation.
View of the bathroom and showers.
We then set off into town to get some groceries. The area called The Front Side of EPC is visible behind us and the canyon to the left is where most of the climbing is located.
The distance to the nearest town, Hidalgo, is about two miles. We started out on foot but caught a ride with Tami Wright, owner of Tami's Cafe at EPC, a great little coffee shop/cafe right next to La Posada. Once in town we headed straight to the ATM to get some pesos. The exchange rate was roughly 10 pesos to one USD.
There are two main grocery stores in Hidalgo. One near the central plaza and one closer to EPC near the cement plant. We hit them both before walking back to EPC.
Our first dinner was at the always delicious, Checo's, across the street from La Posada. Caguama beers (40s) cost $2.50 USD and dinner entrees were about $3.50 USD. The Chicken Mole special was delicious.
The main entrance to EPC the next day. The walk to the climbing from La Posada was about ten minutes! Bill and I had been here before in 2002 and were excited to break Allison in big time the first day by climbing the classic 12 pitch route, Space Boyz, 5.10d.
Our first route of the entire trip was Space Boyz, 5.10d, 12 pitches. It follows the obvious line in the center of the photo to the summit of the point seen here. Allison would get broken into EPC in a big way!
We got on the route at 7:30am with Allison leading the first pitch. With all bolted anchors, EPC is the ideal place for belaying two seconds simultaneously using an auto-blocking belay device like the Reverso or ATC-Guide. We made very good time even as a group of three in this fashion. Clipping into the belay anchors with adjustable daisys or PAS allowed us to untie and easily switch the leader too.
Looking up the second pitch of Space Boyz.
Allison, with Bill close behind, seconds pitch 3.
Looking down P3 with the pavillion down at the base.
Allison seconding pitch 4 or thereabouts
I led pitch 6 which is considered one of the crux pitches. It traverses right from the belay and then goes up these two corner systems. Great exposure and great climbing. Bill led P7 after this which is the second crux pitch and, in my opinion, a bit harder than P6.
I linked P8 and P9 by skipping bolts to conserve quick draws. This is looking down P8 and P9. Note the cleared lines of vegetation to both sides of us. These are the other routes. It takes quite a bit of work to clear a route at EPC.
More P8 and P9 action.
Bill linked the last pitches to the summit. We're about to top out here.
Summit time! We're about 1200' up and there's about another 1200' above our mini-summit here. Huge walls! The summit register box was broken and empty, though.
Rapping down. Even though we had two 60m ropes, it's much easier to rap on one line because all the vegetation has a tendancy to snag ropes. The less rope you have to pull, the better.
Final rap to the ground. Note our packs hanging on the second bolt up the route. This is good to do to let others know you're on the route and to prevent theft.
The second day we climbed at the Wonder Wall. This is Allison on the “best 5.8 in the park”, Mr. Hanky. It was quite good.
View of the swimming pool complex in the EPC looking out towards Hidalgo.
Bill on lead of “Mr. Hanky”
Next to Mr. Hanky was an unknown, new route with gold hangers. It goes at about 5.10c we think.
Allison topping out on the “new route”
Later that same day we climbed the route, “The Same But Different”, 5.10b on the Fin de Semana wall.
Me in my new helmet that I received for Christmas. Thanks Dad!
From the top of “The Same But Different” we accessed the second pitch of “Pepe y Lupe”, a fantastic, clean and asthetic corner pitch rated 5.10b. Awesome.
Getting some stemming moves in.
Bill seconding on the second pitch of Pepe Y Lupe.
There's a third pitch, rated 5.7, to “Pepe y Lupe”. Bill led it but found only a single bolt and ring at the top so he lowered from it rather than belaying me up to it.
Our friends Don Taylor and Peter McLachlan were also at EPC. This is Don on a 5.11 route on the Mini Super Wall I believe.
Peter on the same route.
Yum! Boiled corn spread with mayo, red chile and cheese from a street vendor in the EPC. So tasty!
Next day we headed to the Spires to climb a bolted 3-pitch off-width chimney route called “Crack Test Dummies”. It was OK but not great. It's the obvious off-width line on the left spire in this photo.
Allison starting lead on “Crack Test Dummies” first pitch.
She's in there, look closely.
Bill and I followed in the double ropes. As it turns out, sandstone off-width is way better than limestone off-width.
I led the second pitch and then Bill led the third pitch, a shorty to the summit!
From there we headed to the busy Mota Wall (a.k.a. Lower Sense of Religion Wall) to climb routes Tlaloc (5.10b), All Fun & Games (5.10b), Juggalo (5.11a) and Cactus Pile (5.7, 5.10, 5.9). This is Bill leading All Fun and Games.
Me leading through the very strenous crux on Juggalo (5.11a)
Allison leading the first pitch (of three) on Cactus Pile (5.7, 5.10, 5.9).
Seconding the second pitch of Cactus Pile.
Allison and I seconding the third pitch of Cactus Pile.
View across the canyon looking at El Toro.
For Christmas Eve dinner we went to Homero's for a big dinner that was supposed to start at 7pm. At 8:30pm, Milton announced food wouldn't be ready until 9:30pm. This was lame so we got our money back and went back to La Posada. However, we did meet a nice couple from ABQ--Eric and Betty--along with another couple from Texas.
The party scene at Homeros just before we left.
So, instead of a fancy Christmas Eve dinner we ended up with Ranch Style beans on corn tortillas with orange juice to wash it all down. :-)
Christmas day we climbed the “mountaineering route” called Dope Ninja, (5.7, 5.10, 5.10b, 5.6, 5.9, 5.7). It has a funky traverse pitch and definitely has a wild feel to it. It was good but cold in the shade and wind all day. This is Bill following P2. (I linked P1 and P2 resulting in huge rope drag!)
Allison following P2 of Dope Ninja
Bill led the 5.10 pitch 3. This is Allison following.
Looking down at Bill and Allison seconding P4, the traverse pitch.
Traversing on P4. Definitely not clean climbing but certainly holding an “alpine feel”.
Allison seconding the final pitch to the cool summit of Dope Ninja. For those familiar with the area, the summit of DN is also the same summit of Snott Girlz. DN just climbs the opposite side.
At the top of Dope Ninja in the sun, finally!
Rapping at EPC can suck. This was one of those times.
Me on lead of the fun (and extremely well-bolted) route, Black Cadillac, 5.11b. There's a sweet “bread loaf tufa” about 1/2 way up this route. Neat stuff.
Allison on lead of “Black Cadillac”, 5.11b, at the Cat House Wall later that day.
Using the awesome bread loaf tufa left-hand hold. Check it!
Bill's turn to lead Black Cadillac.
Back at La Posada
12/26 was warm and Allison wanted to take a rest day so Bill and I headed out early to climb Pancho Villa Rides Again (5.10, 5.10c, 5.10a, 5.10a, 5.10a) and we did alternate finish on last pitch at 5.11, accidentally. This is Bill seconding the first pitch.
Nice bolted belays everywhere. Ideal for autoblocking.
Bill leading the fourth pitch, a nice corner pitch that would protect nicely with gear but no need! In fact, most of Pancho Villa is great crack climbing that was first led on gear long before the route was bolted.
Topping out on Pancho Villa. I saw separate line of bolts while leading the final pitch and followed them. Turned out this finish is an alternate 5.11 finish. A bit of a surprise when I was expecting 5.10a. :-)
After climbing Pancho Villa we went back to camp and picked up Allison for some cragging that afternoon in Virgin Canyon. Leading The Popsicle Kings, 5.10a. A fun route.
Bill on The Popsicle Kings.
Leading XL Puff Sneaker, 5.11d. Super thin slab action.
Dinner at La Posada with Don, Bill, Allison and Peter.
Each night after dinner we'd hit the tent at about 8pm and read for a bit. Nice schedule.
12/27 we headed to The Dihedrals for some great crack and corner climbing. We passed by spires on the hike in.
This is The Dihedrals area right next to the Surf Bowl.
We all led a great route called Dead Man Walking, 5.9.
Next to Dead Man Walking was a route that is one of my favorites at EPC--The Texas Tumble. The first pitch, seen here, is a great 5.10d pitch with two parallel cracks that offered awesome stemming, laybacking and jamming.
The second pitch of The Texas Tumble was fun 5.9 slab climbing.
Allison at the top of P1 on The Texas Tumble.
Super clean face route that is an open project still...
After the Dihedrals we climbed this new route in the Surf Bowl called Blue Fin, 5.12a. Poor rock quality down low but it had an awesome tufa handrail at the overhanging finish.
Grabbing the tufas!
Busy day at the Mota Wall as we hiked back from The Dihedrals. Look closely at the lower portion of the wall.
Awesome to see this small fry on lead on the Mota Wall!
To round out the day we climbed a very sustained 5.10b called Baked Fresh Daily. The whole route overhung slightly the entire way but good, positive holds keep the grade reasonable. Pumpy for sure!
Enjoying some downtime at camp. I finally had the time to read the last Harry Potter book!
At the Friday market getting fresh fruit and vegetables.
Lots of cheap toys too!
And fried stuff!
Hamburgesa Especial really has ham on the burger!
Enchilada suizas for Fritzy
Apparently Los Delfines has great seafood dishes but you know I didn't find out! I was glad to see the “y carnes” on the sign. :-)
Walking the streets of Hidalgo
The cement plant is a major landmark near town
We're super romantic, see?
For our last day we climbed the new classic Treasure of the Sierra Madre (5.10, 5.10, 5.10c, 5.9, 5.10c, 5.9, 5.7). Allison started us off with her lead of the first pitch, 5.10.
Looking up the sixth pitch
Leading through the crux of the fifth pitch.
On the airy summit! It afforded a great view of the Potrero.
Group shot of the trip!
But we weren't done yet! Bill and I climbed the three pitch route, Cloud Nine (5.10b, 5.11b, 5.10d). This is Bill following the second pitch. We both agreed the 5.10b first pitch felt harder than the second pitch 5.11b. However, Allison was able to TR the first two pitches and she didn't have any trouble on the first pitch.
Bill leading through the wild rock of the third pitch of Cloud Nine. Interesting formations and smooth rock that really made us think. It was cool!
I was able to belay Allison from the top of the second pitch on Cloud Nine, 5.11b, making for one super long TR!
Allison seconding the second pitch of Cloud Nine.
Had a big night!