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faster_than_you

Mexico, El Potrero Chico??

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Anyone have information or links to a climbng area in Mexico called "Puerto Chico?" (And is this the right name?) I was told about the location, but haven't been able to find any information.

 

OR, does anyone have any information on a good place to climb/crag in Mexico/Central America.

 

Thanks

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Are you going to look for the Nodder there? laugh.gif I hope you finally find the Nodder.

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Wasn't there some drama about Kurt Smith being kicked off his ranch by a taxi driver or something rediculous like that?

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Kurt a) overstayed his welcome and treated the Mexicans like wetbacks until they gave him the boot; b) was the best thing that ever happened to Potrero Chico and after building up the climbing potential of the area, was screwed over by his local partners.

 

Which version of the story you believe is up to you.

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Regardless, I've heard it kicks ass if you are into sport climbing. Super cheap, and the local economy is heavily supported by tourist climbers, so they are very friendly and accomodating. A lot of multipitch bolted sport climbs. Apparently a 70m rope will serve you well there. This is all secondhand info, I apologize, but it sounds like a good time for a winter break. Maybe someone who has spent some time there can chime in.

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I have since found a loose network that supports the Nodder in hiding. Some of that network does exist throughout Central and Latin America.

 

But this trip is about climbing... ideally, longer routes in warmer weather. I'm hoping that the place has some nice cracks, but we'll see.

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For nice cracks I heard there is a spot by Guadalajara with andesite columns, sort of like the Crooked River Gorge but 3 pitches high... Around the Potrero itself expect sketchy massive looseness on trad routes (this is where Jose Pereyra died while trad climbing - rock broke, chopped rope)

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I went a couple of years ago in December and loved it. PM me if you want more details.

 

rbwen

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I sent a very long reply via PM to faster_than_you so maybe if he still has it he can post it here since I don't have it anymore. I don't mind.

 

rbwen

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I've been and I will talk. Went for a month. Flew into San Antonio, then got on a bus for 6hrs to Monterrey (sp?). From the bus station in Monterrey, my spainish was good enough to get a cab to take me to Homero's at the Portrero. There are other refugio's/hostles and they are campable or you can rent huts. Both are cheap in American standards. I rented a hut for a month for $300 with fridge, stove, bed.

There are many bolted multipitch moderate climbs, and the popular one's are fairly clean but I would wear a helmet and be the first party on the route. Ropes pulled in yuca plants on the cliffs seem to knock debris off as do careless people. The sport pitches, again which there are many moderates, were very clean on excellent, European like limestone. Some great routes and I stayed on those mainly because of lack of partners and multiple projects.

The route Jose Parea(sp?) (I watched the rescue copter/team pluck his body off the ledge he landed on that next morning) was a trad route on sketchy limestone that was already know by the FA Team as a death route. If you've been to Canmore (Yamnuska), the limestone is better in Portrero, but still lots of loose blocks, etc on untravelled routes. I would aviod ground up trad climbing on limestone massifs as large as Portrero.

Also if you like steep sport climbs, I would spend a bit of time at Portrero in the Surf Bowl, Outrage Wall, then get over to El Salto ASAP. People in Portrero will know the way. No scene in El Salto Either.

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March could be warm. Maybe snakes and scorps, I was there in Jan. Crowds don't really matter cause its a big place but I would guess they might be low then?

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SOrry for the delay, I've been away from the computer world. Here is Ray's PM! Thanks Ray for the AWESOME info and for taking the time to put it out there!

 

 

 

It's a bit late so I'll type instead of talking. You can call me later this weekend if you want more info on Potrero Chico. XXX I'll be home tomorrow after 4pm and then have the rest of the weekend off (Fri-Sun).

 

I loved going to PC. It had a lot of great climbing on Limestone and cheap camping with a great international flavor. Where do I start?

 

Getting There: We flew into Laredo, TX and then took a taxi to the border and walked across with all of our stuff. From there crossed into Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. This place is pretty unruly so if you're alone or if you hav a lot of expensive looking climbing equipment I would be a bit wary. When I say unruly I mean lawless. There was a story a while ago about how the police basically had no control over the town and to be very careful travelling there.

 

We took another taxi to the bus station which was a couple of miles from the border, not good walking distance at midnight. The cost for the cab was cheap. From there we took the Conejo (rabbit) bus lines all the way to Monterey. Luckily I speak Spanish and we started talking to a local and he was able to get us on the right but and headed in the right direction. The bus ride was about three hours to Monterrey and the bus stopped about ten miles over the border so they could check our visitation papers. You need to get these once you cross the border if you're planning on travelling farther into the country for an extended period of time. I'm not sure of what they're officially called but it's pretty standard procedure to buy them and get checked before going any further, even if you're in your own vehicle. I think it was less than $5 a piece for these and the whole bus trip was about $15 for two separate buses all the way to Hidalgo.

 

Once in Monterrey we caught another bus (actually a school bus that had kids and workers on it) that took us another two hours northeast to Hidalgo. We were packed in quite tight with all of our stuff. From there they told us to find a cab and just tell them to take us to Homero's. Homero's is one of the camping spots just outside of Potrero Chico, literally a stone's throw from the entrance to the canyon and you can see thousands of feet of looming limestone from anywhere in town. Our cab ride up the hill about a mile and a half was about $5. You could walk this but we were eager to get up there. There are a couple places to stay up there. Homero's is pretty cheap. Maybe $10/night which includes bathrooms, showers, a communal kitchen and there is a covered area if it's raining that you can pitch your tent in. This is not a hotel and you're basically camping next to the driveway with a bunch of other tenters. We helped them out with the guidebook so they let us stay there for free...not bad. Most of the internationals stay here so there was a good mix of Mexican, French, American, etc. staying there. There is also a motel right next door called Posada El Potrero Chico that has rooms and camping and I believe a pool http://www.elpotrerochico.com.mx/ The third place is Kurt Smith's ranch. When we were there about five years ago this was the place where all the Americans hung out. It was okay, a bunch of campers in a field with a big covered area with stoves, sinks, etc. I think the prices were comparable to Homero's but it's about 1/4 mile further away from the rock AND I have heard the Smith's place was shut down and he was kicked out of the country awhile ago. Maybe surf that up to see if it's true. Could be because he's a bit of a bad boy down there, bolting crack climbs, etc.

 

Climbing: To get to the rock you just pack up and start walking. There is a tiny, tiny store on the way up. You can get beer, chips, tortillas, the random can of something or other, and possibly some other small items to eat. Most of the good food is downtown so walk back down the hill and go to the outdoor market or street vendors. The market happened two days a week and is well worth the trip for fresh food/veggies. Oh yeah...climbing...we were there about eight days and climbed on six of them. The first and last day were travel/rest/orientation. You hike from your tent and in ten minutes you're in a canyon that is surrounded by thousand foot high walls of limestone. From here there are hundreds, if not thousands, of routes to climb. Most of the ratings are soft. I climbed a 5.11 sport route that felt more like a 5.10b route. There are plenty of routes in the moderate range and some really long moderate climbs to boot. There are places to be in the shade and the sun. Like I said, we went in December and it wasn't too cold at night. We climbed in the shade one day and decided we would try to seek out the sun as much as possible. In the sun we wore shorts and t-shirts.

 

Fun climbs that we did that I can remember: You have to do Space Boyz. It's ten pitches of moderate climbing. There is one pitch of 5.10b or 10d but that's way up the face and you can either rap down from there or climb on up it. It's well protected all the way up and the first seven or eight pitches go 5.8/9 and are pretty easy and straightforward. We met another party and it was getting dark so we didn't do the last two pitches. Another awesome one was Estrellitas. I believe this was twelve pitches topping out with two easy pitches of 5.10b. Again, somewhat soft on the ratings. This one went up high and then you do three or four raps off the back side straight down to the other canyon where you're rapping in mid air searching for the next rap station on the cliff. Very fun route and probably the best we did there...but maybe not better than Space Boyz. We also did one of the two pillars (the right one). I can't remember their names...maybe Classic Pillar? It was fun and worth the climb. A bit runout on the first pitch but goes at 5.10a-ish. The second pitch was a thin crack but all bolt-protected. Most of the climbs were very well protected and there was really only one place on that pillar where things felt runout and sketchy. The rock is mostly pretty solid BUT there were some places (like anywhere...Vantage) that rocks come tumbling down. One spot in particular toward the back of the canyon had a longer sport climb above it (Snot Boyz...I think) that would always rain down rocks, some pretty big, so bring a helmet and you're fancy steppin' shoes to get out of the way.

 

Atmosphere: We had a great time, met nice people at Homero's and on the rock, and enjoyed our time in town. We both drank the water without impunity but then we'd both lived in Mexico at some point, me for a year, so maybe I had some immunity built up. Maybe buy your own so you're not sending me haunting emails ;o)

 

Book: There is a guidebook out there. I think the Texas Mountaineers sell it and it's by a guy named Magic Ed Garza. He and his wife run Homero's. Homero just owns the land. They are very nice and Ed puts up the majority of the routes in PC along with Kurt Smith, if he's still around. Unfortunately my friend has the book but if you can't find it I'll email her and she can send it to you/me. She's in Boston right now. Like I said we went about five years ago so I'm sure there's tons of new routes and possibly even a new/better book. We literally put together the book for Ed and he printed us off a copy from his computer before it was even bound, that's how new it was back then.

 

Going Home: We had planned on taking the bus back to Monterrey and then back to Laredo but instead we hooked up with a couple of Texas guys who gave us a ride back to TX with them in their van. Not a bad deal and it was much shorter to head northwest to get back rather than south, then west, then north through Monterrey. If you rent a car make sure that you get rental insurance from one of the places at the border. You don't want to get in an accident in Mexico with your car or a rental car without insurance. I've heard stories of jail time. I've also bribed cops with $20 bills before...so it probably goes both ways.

 

I dream of going back down there. I've got some pictures that I'll post, if I can find them and then I'll send you the link. Let me know if you want that book or if you need any more info. Feel free to call tomorrow or over the weekend.

 

Good luck!

 

Ray, Wenatchee, WA

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Hey Faster-

When are you planning on heading down? I'll be camping at Posada from 4 January - 8 February.

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Hey faster try this web site ranchopotrerchico.com. I have been down there twice. I live in Leavenworth for thhe next two weeks and have a pretty resent guide book not the latest from Magic ED. I could give it to you or whatever. PM me if you want to contact me.

Ben

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