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Potrero Chico Trip Report, Feb 2001

Don Quixote 5.11d
picture of Don Quixote 5.11d
After a bit of half hearted searching in Austin for a ride south, I drove to Laredo. Laredo was rather frustrating, as I couldn't find the "info center" (it had been moved), and things weren't where the map said they were. I finally found a rather odd library. (almost no books, but it did have computer access), so I wasted a lot of time trying to find a bank, and directions for where the bus station in Nuevo Laredo was (I got 3 possible locations). Finally I just parked behind where the tourist center used to be, and went to bed.

On Feb 1, I found a rather low resolution map at the chamber of commerce, parked the truck, and walked for the border. oops, forgot money, so I wandered about looking for an ATM. finally I crossed the border. I cleverly had to back track to change dollars for pesos, but after much walking (3 miles or more? on hard pavement w/ a rather large pack), I got to the bus station. La Futura took me to Monterrey in style, showing "lake placid" and the first 1/2 of "the perfect storm" dubbed in spanish. The second 1/2 would have been better, but at least I had read the book so had an idea of what was going on. For Lake placid it didn't seem to make much difference. In Monterrey I followed the scribbled map I had been given in Austin and got a Mina bus to Hidalgo. It left minutes after I got there, but unfortunately I took the "pueblas" instead of the "directo" bus, so we detoured to all the small towns. No matter I got to Hidalgo ok, and then saddled up my pack and walked towards the cliffs. I stopped at a small mini super for some foodstuffs. I stuck out my thumb once I was on the road heading to the Potrero, but didn't get any luck 'til Luis, the cheese man picked me up for the last .5 km or so (out of maybe 5 uphill). Nobody much was around Homero's when I arrived, so I set up my tent, and wandered about a bit. People started trickling back from climbing shortly, and cooking dinner and playing cards. That night it started to rain.
Jackie on the Mota Wall
picture Jackie on the Mota Wall

Feb. 2 was a day of rain. I wandered over to Rancho Cerro Gordo and was pinned there by rain. I played hacky sack and walked on their slack line. Then back for some cards, cooking my very limited diet, and reading. I really wanted to climb, but the weather wanted to rain. El Potrero Chico is where an arroyo cuts through a mountain composed of limestone beds folded up vertically, so it produces lots of limestone fins with a fair collection of edges and pockets. In addition there are a fair number of yuccas and cacti sprouting out of the walls as well as the occasional palm tree. In one area there is a complex of pools and terraces that was closed for the winter, but it was still a popular place for the locals to drive up, drink cervesa, play loud music, and watch the climbers.

Finally some decent weather on saturday the 3rd. after an agonizingly slow start, I hooked up with Dave from New Mexico to go do Jungle mountaineering, supposedly a perfect introduction to the area. Also occupied when we got there, so we did some climbs to the left. Next onto the pinnacles, and finally some easy 11s on the Mota wall (picture). I won't go on to describe every climb, although I will list a few of the highlights...
Snott Girrls, a 7 pitch route above the Mota wall w/ 2 .10d pitches
El Sendero diablo, 6 pitches up the right side of the outrage wall with 3 5.11 pitches and some wild exposure. Rappelling involved back clipping to avoid hanging from the end of the ropes suspended in space.
Agua de coco, a 3 pitch route that had palm trees at the belays. (you sat on them as they sprouted from the wall)(great belays, not so great climbing).
I did do jungle mtneering also.
I managed to flash a 11d and an 11c, as well as a 12a with some super thin face moves (lies, spies, and naked thighs). I also got on celestial omnibus (picture), a fantastic steep tufa 12a, and nearly flashed another 12a on the outrage wall(but fell).
Celestial Omnibus (5.12a) and other .12a
picture Celestial Omnibus (5.12a) and other .12a
interspersed with all this climbing, I took a rest day on market day, and loaded up on veggies and fruit. (bananas and oranges and avocados particularly). I also managed to bake a fair bit in the oven, including some cooperative pizza efforts. I also learned how to play 5 handed euchre with a group of Canadians or 2 and re-learned how to play cribbage. I also tried to understand the Spanish that was spoken, but I didn't always do too well. As I start to hit the main points on the "climbing circuit" I am beginning to run into people that I have met before or that know people I have been climbing with, which is nice.

I left the 13th, getting a ride to the bus station, then bussing it to Monterrey, and once again getting an immediate bus on to Nuevo Laredo. From the bus station there I managed to get a city bus to near the border, and walked back to my truck. I did have one rather tense moment in the bus when I was asked for my papers (which I didn't have), but I mimed to the guy that they were in my luggage underneath, and luckily I didn't have to produce them. Since I was leaving though, I suppose I might have just been thrown out. I finished my last orange while hiking across the international bridge, and walked through customs without a hitch. (conveniently they asked citizenship rather than where I was born).

In any case, a cool trip to a great place. Next time I go, I shall try to be able to drive down, both to have my truck and stuff with me, and to avoid the truck storage costs and hassle.
Hopefully I will have some cool pictures, but the film isn't finished, so it might be quite a while before they end up here (finally got them and scanned them 6-29-01).

but here is a link to a commercial site with a few pictures and some info about the area... link to Rockclimbing.com's Potrero info
link to my 2006 Potrero Chico page

Wall from top of Snott Girlz
picture of Wall from top of Snott Girlz