Ruta Vertigo, Mexico's largest via ferrata line!:
Mar 19, 2010, 2:51 AM
Registered: Nov 5, 2007
This purpose of this thread is twofold. The first purpose is to record a simple trip report showing the awesomeness of via feratta on Mexican limestone. The second purpose is to catalog information on the via feratta line. When I first found out about this line I had a lot of trouble finding any actual information on what was required to climb the line and where itís actually located. Hopefully this thread will help shed some light on Mexicoís largest via ferrate line, Ruta Vertigo.
Ruta Vertigo was established around 2006 by a local guiding company. This company spent approximately one year installing the line and used public money to fund the equipment needed. Ruta Vertigo is the largest via feratta line in Latin America. The line is located in a Mexican national park, the
Huasteca Canyon, and is free for all to use. The official difficulty of the line is ďmediumĒ however from a climberís point of view; I found the line to be rather easy in terms of how much energy was required overall to complete the line. The guide services will tell you it takes 6 - 8 hours to complete the line. Well I completed it car to car in 3.5 hours. I believe the 6-8 hours timeframe is more for those with no climbing experience. The route consists of up to three zip lines / Tyrolean traverses and up to three rappels.*
*More information about the zip lines and rappels can be found in the ďassentĒ are of this topic.
There are many guide services that specifically tailor to this line however you are not legally required to hire a guide. If you choose to hire a guide you can expect to pay $700 - 1200 (Mexican Peso) per person depending on what company you choose. If you choose to hire a guide you can stop by Verti Mania (the only climbing retailer in the area) in Monterrey and they can hook you up.
Once again, the equipment used in the line was purchased using public money and the line is located on public property in a national park. I felt it was important to bring this up twice because some of the guide services may try to tell you that you are absolutely required to hire them to go on this line. Such is simply not true.
Ruta Vertigo is located in the beginning section of Huasteca Canyon which is located on the outskirts of southwest Monterrey. The park is approximately a one hour drive from El Potrero Chico. I am not going to post directions on how to actually get to the route but instead, give you exact GPS coordinates. With those coordinates, Google Maps will tell you everything you need to know.
Park your car here: N 25.64937 W 100.46378
The line starts here: N 25.64648 W 100.45924
The hike from the parking lot to the line takes approximately 45 min and could be considered to be of medium difficulty. There is a trail that heads up to the line but it winds around a fair amount so donít be surprised if you donít find it or find yourself off the trail.
1x - Via feratta energy absorbing lanyard. You MUST use an energy absorbing lanyard. Rope, daisy chains or any other sling is NOT an appropriate substitute.
1x - Helmet. There is not a whole lot of loose rock on the line but if you fall there are steel ladders everywhere to break your head on (something to think about).
1x - Double wheel zip line style pulley such as the Petzl Tandem Cable or Petzl Tandem Speed. You MUST use a pulley that has STEEL wheels as the zip lines / Tyrolean traverses are made up of steel cable. Do not use the Petzl Tandem Basic as that pulley does not have steel wheels. The pulley must accept ĹĒ steel cable.
1x -Oval locking carabiner for use with the pulley.
1x -Descent / rappel device that accepts two rope strands w/ carabiner.
(one of the following rope options)
1x -60m. (HIGHLY not recommended, but possible to use)*
1x -70m. (HIGHLY not recommended, but possible to use)*
1x -80m. (good option)
2x -50m. (good option)
1x -Climbing shoes for the leader.^
1x -Short quickdraw for the leader.^
* Additional information can be found in the ďdecentĒ area of this thread.
^ Additional information can be found in the ďascentĒ area of this thread.
Other things such as your harness and water are needed but I left them out as such is obvious.
There is only one small section on the line that has any 5th class climbing, the beginning. There is a ladder that allows climbers to get up to the start of the route however it is locked and only the guides have a key so you will need to free climb up to the start of the line. There is approximately 20 feet of 5.9 climbing that leads up to the start of the line. There is one bolt to protect the section. This is the reason why I suggested one person brings climbing shoes and a single draw. Once you start the line you will immediately run into a zip line heading away from the via feratta line. You donít need to worry about that at the moment, thatís for use at the end.
After that there is not much to say. The rest is self-explanatory, you follow the cable. There is a nice fat ĹĒ steel cable that leads the way all the way to the end of the route. Here are various pictures of the line along the way:
Eventually you will hit a sweet cable bridge:
This is the typical pass point station. There use to be a long sport climb where Ruta Vertigo is and thus you will see random bolts on the way up. You could bring a whole rack of draws and clip them but that would be rather pointless as the via feratta line is not very hard.
Now we come to what is hands down the best part of the line. At this point you get to climb four aluminum ladders suspended in mid air by four steel cables with your back facing the rock so all you see are the ladders and the city five miles away. The locals call this ďThe Window to HeavenĒ. Below the ladders is 1,200 feet of absolutely nothing! Itís literally the most exposure you can possibly ever ask for on any route!
Nice views from the top:
The descent is far trickier then the ascent as there is basically two options to get down. As soon as you top out in the mountain you will reach a 1,000+ foot long zip line / Tyrolean traverse. This zip line is the only option down the mountain (other than down climbing the entire line).
Once you reach the end of the zip line you will have to do a rappel to get down. A single 60m will do fine here.*
*A 60m is fine for this rap but insufficient for the others, read further.
Once you rappel down you will have to do about 5 min of hiking to get to the next zip line. There is a fixed static line to follow for part of the way. Next you have to do another rappel to get down to the next zip line. For this rappel a 60m will only get you close. You will be at the absolute ends of your rope and you may have to do a few feet moderate down climbing to reach the platform (if you slip off the down climb, your dead). Thus a 70m would be preferable here.*
*A 70m works for this rappel but is insufficient for the next, read further.
At this next step you have two descent options. You can take the zip line down or you can rappel down to the ground. I STRONGLY DISCOURAGE using the zip line as the angle of descent on the zip line is extremely steep and there is not nearly enough room to slow down before you reach the end of the line. If you do decide to use the zip line you MUST attach a rope to the wall and use it to control your descent speed.
WARNING: If you attempt to ride down the zip line without a rope to control your speed you will likely hit the end of the zip line at high speed which could result in serious injury or death along with a possibility of complete equipment failure. Once again, you MUST stay attached to a rope on the way down to control your descent speed. If you do use this descent option you will need TWO 70m ropes unless you donít mind leaving a rope behind, in which case you would then only need one 70m rope. Although two 50m ropes are enough to reach the ground, you still need two 70mís because the zip line is over 200 feet in length. If you bring two 50ís for this option you will find yourself having to let go of the rope only 2/3rds of the way down the zip line which would mean you would not be able to control your speed of the last 1/3rd of the zip line. If you choose this option every person in the party needs gloves so they can grab the cable when they reach the end of the 70m rope so they can continue to control their descent speed.
The other option is to simply rappel to the ground from this zip line station. To rappel to the ground you will need one 80m rope or two 50mís. It is physically possible to reach the ground with one 60m but rather risky. There is a single bolt with a quicklink on it about 1/3rd of the way down. If you have a 60 or 70m you can rap to this bolt and use it as a sub rap anchor. However I strongly discourage such as the sub rap anchor is made of only one bolt and EVERYONE in the party will have to sit on this single bolt well you pull the rope from the first set of anchors. If it gets hung up or you drop it, youíre stuck until someone comes to get you.
These are pics of the second zip line. Notice how excessively steep it isÖ:
If you canít control your speed well you ride down the second zip line you will run into this:
Once you get to the ground you have one last descent option. You can simply hike back to the car or you can perform one more zip line. There is no requirement to perform the last zip line, itís just there for fun. The ďzip lineĒ heads up hill so itís actually a Tyrolean traverse. If you choose to do it, bring a 60m rope for the rappel.
This is the last rappel:
If you only brought a single 60 or 70m rope this is your sub-rap station:
Last zip line:
That about sums things up. If you are going to El Potrero Chico and have a way into the city itís WELL worth it to stop by and do this line. Itís extremely fun and the ladder climb is WELL worth the short one hour drive and $70 cost for the lanyard. If you have any questions feel free to send me a PM. This information is current as of Feb 28, 2010.
(This post was edited by USnavy on Mar 19, 2010, 6:40 PM)
Post edited by USnavy
() on Mar 19, 2010, 6:40 PM