Forums: Climbing Information: Trip Reports:
El Potrero Chico Trip Report
RSS FeedRSS Feeds for Trip Reports

Premier Sponsor:

 


Bag11s


Nov 8, 2009, 10:55 AM
Post #1 of 7 (2271 views)
Shortcut

Registered: May 8, 2009
Posts: 98

El Potrero Chico Trip Report
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (1 rating)  
Can't Post

Brian Rhode (54) and Victor Lyamtsev (46), two Boston climbers.

Synopsis: Friday 10/30/09 air travel day, Saturday through Monday- 3 climbing days, Tuesday- rest day, Wednesday through Friday- 3 climbing days, Saturday 11/7/09 air travel return day. The weather was absolutely perfect every day: sunny and in the upper seventies. At night, the temps were very comfortable.

We stayed at Posada and camped out for $5.00 per night. This is the height of luxury camping, with beautiful grounds, a gorgeous new swimming pool, hot showers, a great communal kitchen for camper use, and an excellent and inexpensive restaurant that opened during the week for the winter climbing season. The people who run it are wonderful: very helpful when you have questions, and meticulous in their vision for the place, and maintenance of the property. This time of year is the beginning of the climbing season; however, we enjoyed the company of a smallish group of climbers from all around North and Central America, and two Polish twenty-two year olds who were one month into a one year round-the-world trip. Any climb you wanted to get on was up for grabs. We did not rent a car, but took a taxi from and to the airport. We went to Hidalgo for groceries twice, about a forty five minute walk.

The physical environment of the Potrero area is absolutely beautiful- fantastic, really. Dramatic limestone mountains rise abruptly from the valleys and canyons. The limestone bedding planes are tilted nearly vertical creating soaring ribs and ridgelines. Area mountaineers bagged all the peaks back in the mid twentieth century, but modern sport climbing began here in 1988.

The heavy work of developing the area by a dedicated and talented group of climbers, including guide book authors Ed Wright and Dane Bass, is astounding. The sport climbing pioneers here originally focused on putting up hard 12s and 13s. A bit later, the unlimited potential for multipitch moderates was recognized, and the heavy lifting shifted into a higher gear. A lot of very hard physical work goes into the creation of these choice longer routes; including clearing the cactus and other vegetation from the wall and trundling loose blocks using crowbars and ice tools. The work includes jugging with monster packs of supplies, multiple days in the scorching sun, bolting the lines, and, I was assured, a lot of fun. One thing I noted in particular was the excellent locations and workmanlike quality of the rap stations. In almost all cases they are set up with a pair of chains in the center, with an extra bolt & hanger on either side to facilitate zero cluster-fucking and the quickest possible change over times. Getting down quickly and safely really adds to the pleasure of the climbing day.

Victor had been to the Potrero for a short visit two years ago, but this was my first time. We had been climbing a lot this year here in New England and were in relatively fit condition when we arrived. We brought 24 draws and a new 9.3 bi-color 70 meter rope, which was fantastic, and had practiced our simulrapping with autoblocks one afternoon at Quincy Quarries before we left. With a few exceptions, we combined pitches, going 200 feet at a whack. We alternated leads all week. Coming down we simulrapped, being careful to hit every station. The stations are set up for sixty meter ropes, the extra rope length gives great peace of mind. We did not tie knots in the ends of the ropes, as this just causes more snags on the vegetation. We brought a small trad rack, but it stayed in the tent, we never needed it once, and on the routes we climbed we never thought anything was dangerously run out on any harder climbing.

The Climbing:

Saturday: Yankee Clipper 14 pitches, 1500 feet 5.10b, three stars. To get used to Potrero multipitch style, we chose this route, which has lots of super fun 5.9 & 5.10 slabby climbing with holes, pockets, and discontinuous cracks. The 15th pitch, rated 5.12 is an extremely crimpy vertical wall, with sharp pointy pinches and sharp-edged two finger holes. Victor worked it to the forth bolt, but it was just too painful and hard for a first day. I hadnít climbed on limestone in over ten years and it was a lot of fun to get on it again- itís so featured with cool looking water erosion created detailing.

Sunday: Virgin Canyon cragging to test our on-sight level at the Potrero. We climbed two single pitch 100 meter 5.10s and one 11b, then did a three star 3 pitch route called Evil Shenanigans 240 feet rated 5.8, 11b, 10c. It seemed by the end of the day that if the climbing got much harder than that we would fail to on-sight.

Monday: Estrellita 12 pitches 1100 feet, 11b on two consecutive pitches, three-plus stars. This route follows fun ramps on the upper pitches, including one particular way nice 5.10 ramp with a blank looking overlap in it. The two 5.11 pitches can be avoided by taking 5.8 alternates. Great route to a cool summit block with palm tree, four raps off the backside into a different canyon for the easy descent.

On Monday night, hiking by moonlight, we went up to the limestone bouldering cave with a really strong Costa Rican boulderer whose encouraging personality radiated psych. He was one month into a two month trip mainly bouldering with a local Hidalgo climber. The local has developed a lot of very difficult roof problems on the textured ceiling of this deep cave that opens out into two large interior chambers deep within the mountain. Across the 60 meter wide mouth of the cave is a 5.14 bouldering traverse route that he has completed. They keep crash pads up there in the cave, and bring excellent rechargeable lights. Two parts of the traverse are V2 to V4 or so at either end. The lines in the interior chambers start around V5 and go up to V13 and probably harder. Using heel hooks, toe-heel jambs, toe grabs, pinches, and big spans, we bouldered until spent- it didnít take long. This was the only climbing we got on during the trip that wasnít on your feet. The ambience at the cave mouth with the view out over the townís lights was great.

Tuesday: Rest Day, and Market Day in Hidalgo- really fun to walk through. The cloth shaded stalls are spread out over about a half mile along one long street in town. Thousands of items are for sale- every practical thing for life- shoes, clothes, eyeglasses, tools, audio visual stuff, and of course, food. After the walk back up the hill, a long swim in the pool, and snooze in the hammock over the water with the trellis style sunscreen overhead.

Wednesday: Time Wave Zero 23 pitches, 2100 feet, 11a A0, even more stars. I led the first two pitches with a headlamp just before daybreak. After a few moderate pitches and a 3rd class walk on a shoulder after pitch 7 there is more fast climbing to a super cool dead level bivy ledge after pitch 12 in an alcove overshadowed by small trees. This is a great place to get out of the sun for a few minutes and rehydrate before hitting the nine pitches of the headwall, which is in direct sunlight. The entire upper half of the route is sustained, high quality, and interesting 5.10 climbing up a steep wall, with the penultimate culmination being a pretty hard pitch that has three 10d cruxes. Then you are at the routeís crux 21st pitch: 12a, which we French-freed at A0. At this juncture it was 4:00 and we decided to skip the final 5.6 and 5.8 pitches. So we did not tag the summit. This worked out perfectly as the raps take three hours and we were back down off the crag, and all the way down the steep trail to the road just at dark.

Thursday: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 7 pitches, 750 feet, 10c, three stars. This route has a beautiful long sustained crack on pitch three and a super fun overhang on pitch five. It has a great summit perch where we got some excellent pictures of each other in the foreground and the entire dramatic TWZ spire in the background.

At this point, we had done over sixty pitches of mostly 5.10 climbing over five climbing days, with a half dozen 5.11 and around twenty 5.7, 5.8, and 5.9 pitches included in the count- around 6500 feet. Neither leader had taken a fall. So Thursday night at dinner in the restaurant I asked Dane for a recommended 12a to try for our final day. He enthusiastically proposed the first pitch of The Devilís Tongue, and described the techy climbing with particular gusto; adding ďitís been called the best 12a in the parkĒ.

Friday: The Devilís Tongue 1st pitch 12a, three-plus stars. Victor went first. The first move off the ground is in your face, right away. Then there are easier moves through to a stance at the third bolt. Then the unbelievable face climbing starts which proceeds through about fifty feet of puzzling moves on crimps. The final move of this section is the routeís crux. Victor hadnít brought enough draws and ran out at the end of this section. So he had to lower off and I had a chance to tie in, do all of that, and then proceed up the wicked wavy orange Devilís tongue that runs up into a black overhanging corner. Exiting the corner to the left and gaining the anchor above is the final (11a?) tricky crux. Three hangs. Victor tied in and went to the anchor this time, a couple of hangs. This pitch has so many mind bending tricky bits that it takes around forty minutes to climb. We took a one hour break while California climber April tried it on our top rope, and, with a few miscues, went to the anchor. At this point, I decided I was going to try to get it this go. I threw every physical and mental resource I had at it and eventually made it to the stance at the last bolt, shook out, got the heart rate down, and pulled past the bolt and onto the arÍte of the final overhang, thinking ďIíve got in the bag, Iíve got itĒ. That was when I slipped off, to my big disappointment. Victor tied in and tried it with almost exactly the same result.

We waited an hour and a half. I tied in, but felt way weaker than the last go, and could not lock off nearly as deep on the moves. Half way up the face I fell off. I went to the anchor just to do the remainder of the moves again and came down. Victor tied in and with an impressive forth go attempt went all the way to the arÍte again, and there, between heaven and hell, he worked it, and worked it, andÖ fell.

So, we did not send this outstanding pitch, but all-in-all it did not matter, it was a great way to end our tough trip through paradise.

Summary- We went to the Potrero to climb some fun multipitch and have relaxing & enjoyable downtime. It was all of that. If you have never been and are able: Go to the Potrero- you will have a great time!


dlintz


Nov 8, 2009, 12:12 PM
Post #2 of 7 (2238 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Sep 9, 2002
Posts: 1981

Re: [Bag11s] El Potrero Chico Trip Report [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Nice TR, glad you guys had a good time. I agree your comments about the Posada campground and staff.

I'm thinking I need to get back down there too.

d.


steinmethod


Nov 9, 2009, 5:24 PM
Post #3 of 7 (2134 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Aug 3, 2007
Posts: 125

Re: [Bag11s] El Potrero Chico Trip Report [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Great trip report. I am planning on going for a few weeks over Christmas and the info will help decide what to climb!

Thanks!


gblauer
Moderator

Nov 9, 2009, 6:54 PM
Post #4 of 7 (2102 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Oct 3, 2002
Posts: 2819

Re: [steinmethod] El Potrero Chico Trip Report [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

I am impressed with how much mileage you two old dogs covered! I did TWZ and was absolutely wiped the next day. My fingertips were gone, it took a restorative dip in the hot springs to bring me back to sending.


Bag11s


Nov 10, 2009, 5:23 AM
Post #5 of 7 (2052 views)
Shortcut

Registered: May 8, 2009
Posts: 98

Re: [gblauer] El Potrero Chico Trip Report [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Yes- The problem for me by the end of the week was my feet were killing- in particular the edging platform region between the ball of the foot and the big toe. On Treasure of the Sierra Madre we traded one pitch leads, and took it easy, treating it as a kind of cool down. I went bouldering at the gym last night and was surprised how little I've recovered after 3 days- so weak!


Rudmin


Nov 10, 2009, 6:50 AM
Post #6 of 7 (2028 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Mar 29, 2009
Posts: 606

Re: [Bag11s] El Potrero Chico Trip Report [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

I spent two months in EPC last winter and I am really missing the dirtbag lifestyle. We would wake up at 9, have coffee (brought from America), huevos, fried potatoes, tortillas and salsa. Maybe some pineapple. Make some sandwiches and then climb all day. Come back to camp around 5 or 6, buy a few caguamas of Sol, make a big bowl of guacamole and fry up any stale tortillas to dip in it. Cook a dinner of mostly beans, chicken, rice, potatoes, then sit around and play cards, jenga, guitar, or just drink and talk. We usually migrated into the restaurant for cake and ice cream at some point. Total cost for one day was around 10 dollars including the camping. Climbing all day keeps you fit, food keeps you happy.

Edited:
Now I wonder why I work all day to spend my money on rent and food.


(This post was edited by Rudmin on Nov 10, 2009, 6:54 AM)


dagibbs


Nov 10, 2009, 9:46 AM
Post #7 of 7 (1990 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Sep 30, 2007
Posts: 900

Re: [Bag11s] El Potrero Chico Trip Report [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

I loved EPC when I was there back in March, and the Posada is a great place to stay. I want to get back again this coming February/March.


Forums : Climbing Information : Trip Reports

 


Search for (options)

Log In:

Username:
Password: Remember me:

Go Register
Go Lost Password?



Follow us on Twiter Become a Fan on Facebook