El Potrero Chico, Mexico
Report by Calvin Landrus, National Director of SRCFC
See Images of area at Potrero Chico Gallery.
The climbing is on limestone rock and it is fantastically fun. Like most sedimentary rock that is been tilted into the sky, the quality of it varies. On the established routes I climbed (that I’m sure have seen much cleaning and traffic), the rock is incredibly solid.
The climbing is also extremely varied which makes every moment interesting. The limestone varies so much that in one pitch you can be crimping up edges, blasting through steep sections on jugs, making a jam or two along the way and stemming out into incredible positions. But, a well-rounded approach to climbing is necessary as most routes are slightly less than vertical so you can often get your weight back over your feet after a hard move or two and get those forearms recovered.
Although a few trad routes exist, most routes are bolted. You can treat the one pitch routes like a sport climb. But on the multi-pitch climbs, of which there are many that only require one rope and 15 quick-draws, they should be treated with much more respect. There are enough objective hazards that the term “desert mountaineering” applies well.
Also, rock-fall is rare but common enough to justify wearing helmets. Everyone, including the belayers, should wear helmets. All routes are on the sides of these huge limestone mountains, so rock-fall can be generated by both the natural weathering process and parties doing multi-pitch routes above you.
Once you are there, no car is needed. From all the camping/lodging areas, most climbs are within a 20 minute walk. Being that close to the climbing is one of the greatest things about El Potrero Chico. The camping option is easy because you will only need to bring a tent, pad and sleeping bag. Each camping area provides shelter areas for cooking/eating and they are stocked with dishes, stoves, refrigerators, etc. for making your own meals. Food can be purchased at grocery stores in the nearby city of Hidalgo. The going rate for camping is about $4.00 a day.
Although there are some other lodging options available other than camping, they are limited. But, as you visit some the links below, you will discover them. With several restaurants operating in the vicinity, evening meals can be enjoyed for an average cost of about $5.00. Tami’s Coffee Shop offers good java with free wireless access and a great place to meet other climbers.Much more has been written about the area and can be found at the sites below. Information about getting there, rest options, weather, etc. are well covered. Please note that the sites are provided by the camping options at El Potrero Chico.