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Duchess

Mexico Rock Help please

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Planning a trip down to Mexico for a few weeks this winter. No particular destination in mind... looking for small towns, some surf, and some warm rock. Can anyone recommend some good rock climbing areas? Anywhere. I am clueless. Thanks much!

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Potrero Chico - no surf but warm rock and a small town. I wrote a TR last year and if I can find it I'll PM you.

 

rbwen

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Here it is...rbwen

 

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 have 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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Thanks for the great info. Yes, if you have any pics or a link, I would appreciate it! smile.gif

 

Another other suggestions out there??

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Canon Tajo, southeast of San Diego, offers some great Joshua Tree type climbing on domes along the rim, as well as the larger Trono Blanco with grade IV & V routes facing out over the edge of the plateau. All my info is 20 years old and rather useless. A maze of woodcutter roads through the pinyon pines will take you there. There is no guidebook, but there are hundreds of routes. Try contacting a guy named John Smallwood in San Diego, he's more or less the keeper of the flame. Bear in mind that winter can be dodgy, one of the nicknames for the place is "poor man's patagonia."

 

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Nice pic OffWhite, I haven't seen many pics of that area. Last I heard that one should be aware of thieves and drug runner/growers in that area. It looks like some great climbing though.

 

There is a small single pitch sport crag between Rosarito and Ensenada (just south of San Diego). This crag is a one minute drive to some good surf. Rock and Ice did a mini guide for this area several years back.

 

Pico de Diablo, has some great backountry alpine climbing. It is about 2 or more hours south of Ensenada. Though during the winter one can definitely expect snow high in the mountains. From the eastern side there are some great looking ridges, canyons and plain fun backcountry adventure travel with maybe upwards of 9000 ft elevation gains. I don't know of any guidebooks or anybody that has done some exploring. I read a book long time ago about it though and it has peaked my interest since then.

 

Cabo san Lucas supposedly has some climbing down there, but again I am lacking info on it. Though I do know that the main fin of rock is off limits, too back since it is a really cool feature. Just north of there is a great surf destination called Todos Santos. It used to be really cheap and unknown surf destination, though now-a-days I guess that has changed.

 

Then Barancas de Cobre, has some great big walls down there. The most famed one is El Gigante with several wall line up to 3000 ft long. Nearby a 10 pitch 5.12 was put up next to Bascheaci Cascade. Paul Pina and company has spent some time down in the canyon developing sport routes on this ranch. I met the owner, but don't have there contact info. There is a ton of untouched potential down there, but it is a massive area, no surf nearby though.

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