El Potrero Chico climbing - Hidalgo, Mexico - The Road
To say I like to climb is an understatement. Once the hook was set (at age 8), it became the main focus for all I wanted to do. I found jobs that kept me close to climbing for the most part at an early age. During those years I sold climbing gear at REI and Sports Chalet, worked at the grass roots level traveling to events with Five Ten (Shoes), Ropegun (Clothing), Prana (Clothing). Twenty years later I get to share this intense passion with everyone I come across and realize how much I speak like a climber. This trip report will be one of many on Mexico, of course mixed with what the thoughts are of the day (because sitting still is nearly impossible for me).
Traveling to Mexico had been a bucket list dream for a number of years now. In the late 90’s I worked for a clothing company called Ropegun. During this time (this was my introduction to the outdoor industry) the company sponsored many athletes who I always looked up to, Chris Lindner, Troy Mayr, Lisa Rands, Wills Young, Kurt Smith and Elaina Arnez. This was the time Kurt and Elaina along with many other began developing what is now the world class destination of El Potrero Chico. This area is located only a few hours south of the Texas border. The limestone walls have a resemblance to images I had seen from Spain. The legendary photographer Jim Thornburg was there to document and those images were etched in the back of my mind.
Traveling out of the country for many years seemed impossible. I had lived and traveled out of my rig for many tire rotations, climbing all over the Sierras, Bishop, Joshua Tree, Arizona and may off the grid locations. I realized the most important motivator getting on the plane is basically buying the plane ticket. Then scrambling to find your passport/visas on time can happen.
I called up my good buddy Jeff to see if he could make the trek for a couple weeks this past December. He gave the thumbs up and the planning began. La Posada seemed to be the closest hotel to the walls with availability so after booking this along with the airport shuttle we put together a rack of gear. The routes in the canyon were all fully bolted, at least the ones I hoped to climb. After reading about many of the rappels requiring a 70m rope, I opted for an 80m Bluewater 9.1 Icon bi-color rope to give us the ability to link as many pitches as possible for efficiency. Using the bi-color for rappelling saved a ton of time. Simul rappelling was what some did, but I find it to not be the most efective. Along with my Black Diamond harness, Black Diamond helmet (mandatory), Krieg chalk bag and Deuter pack we gathered 28 quickdraws, two quad anchors, lockers and Unparallel climbing shoes (2 pair, I really am a fan of the UP Mocc and UP Rise). Other items include, extra chalk, tape, Joshua tree salve to heal the fingers, Clif Bar energy bars and Nuun electrolyte replacement.
The morning we left Moab, driving to Las Vegas, a giant storm hit town out of nowhere laying down inches of fresh snow in hours. As hard as it was to leave the contrasting desert, it was time for Mexico…
Please enjoy these images showing the beauty of the area just outside of Hidalgo, Mexico. In coming blogs I will write in depth about the routes we climbed, the scene we encountered and non-stop fun we had.