Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Destinations

Climbing Beta: El Potrero Chico, Mexico

Moja Gear takes us south of the border to El Potrero Chico's limestone bastions.

Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All-Access
Intro Offer
$3.99 / month*

  • A $500 value with 25+ benefits including:
  • Access to all member-only content on all 17 publications in the Outside network like Rock and Ice, Climbing, Outside, Backpacker, Trail Runner and more
  • Annual subscription to Climbing magazine.
  • Annual gear guides for climbing, camping, skiing, cycling, and more
  • Gaia GPS Premium with hundreds of maps and global trail recommendations, a $39.99 value
  • Outside Learn, our new online education hub loaded with more than 2,000 videos across 450 lessons including 6 Weeks to Stronger Fingers and Strength Training for Injury Prevention
  • Premium access to Outside TV and 1,000+ hours of exclusive shows
  • Annual subscription to Outside magazine
Join Outside+

*Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

elpotrero-cover.jpg

The following destination beta is courtesy of mojagear.com:

El Potrero Chico, Mexico

Overview

A climber bears down on a vegetated multipitch. Tequila, anyone?

Interestingly meaning, “The Small Corral,” small is the last word that comes to mind when surrounded by the 1000-foot limestone cliffs enclosing the park. Resting in the Chihuahuan Desert in the East Sierra Madre, El Potrero Chico is a Mexican National Park located minutes from the town of Hidalgo in the State of Nuevo Leon.

Potrero has a deep history of climbers coming to the area since the early 1990s to establish hard and long sport routes.

The limestone and dolostone rock was formed under a shallow sea millions of years ago and various mountain building events have pushed the rock unit up for your climbing pleasure. The limestone and dolomite fractures vertically to create shear pocketed technical faces, adventurous vegetated slabs, and clean overhangs similar to the limestone found in Spain. The tallest cliff is the North Face of the Mountain of El Toro, which is just shy of 2000 feet.

Climbing Style
Pockets and crimps and tufas, oh my! The limestone of El Potrero Chico is reminiscent of the Spanish variety.

Bolts! A rope and a dozen quickdraws with allow you to crag or multipitch adventure climb with the safety and low weight of a sport rack.

Multipitch sport climbing is the name of the game; however, Potrero has so much more. There is also spectacular single pitch face and powerful overhung tufa climbing. There is also pretty rad bouldering for low commitment days and an endless supply of highline potential for the slacking enthusiasts!

Best season

Visit in late fall, winter, and early spring. The Chihuahuan Desert gets hot!

Climbing grade range

The tall climbing tends to have a lot of moderate routes in the 5.9 – 5.11 range, with the exception of a few harder test pieces. Single pitch climbs span into the 5.13s.

Best local spot

Ask the locals about cheap natural hot springs. Some are indoors and essentially awesome spas.

Top climbs in area
A slackliner walks the plank between Las Agujas (The Spires).

Multipitch Sport

Aguja Celo Rey (5.10, 2 pitches) – Great two pitches to get you on top of Las Agujas (The Spires). It’s all about the destination on this classic.

Treasure of the Sierra Madre (5.10c, 7 pitches) – Sustained 5.10 climbing on truly varied terrain. Climb vertical sections, roofs, traverses, and through some plants. A little bit of everything!

Snot Girlz (5.10+, 7 pitches) – Moderate route and a great intro to Potrero multipitch. First two pitches are the hardest then 5 rewarding pitches of 5.9!

Black Cat Bone (5.10d, 9 pitches) – Fun, long, and varied route on the jungle wall.

Space Boyz (5.10d, 11 pitches) – One of Potrero’s longest routes, climbs right in the center of the park. A guaranteed adventure!

Sendero Diablo (5.11c, 6 pitches) – Fell incredibly exposed on this mostly overhung route leading up the Outrage Wall.

Sendero Luminos(5.12+, 15 pitches) – Must do route if you climb at this level. 11/15 pitches of incredible continuous 5.12 climbing.

Singlepitch Sport

Pangaea (5.11c) – Dynamic hueco jumping on great overhung rock. Everyone loves this route.

Don Quixote (5.11d) – Technical stemming up a large dihedral. This route is as much a puzzle as it is a climb.

Celestial Omnibus (5.12-) – Fantastic tufa climbing on the beautifully exposed Outrage Wall.

Surfer Rosa (5.13) – Prepare your thumbs for this classic tufa pinching test piece!

Best kept secret

It’s Mexico! Tacos anywhere and everywhere will be delicious!

How stiff is the grading?

If you can crimp incut edges, you’re good to go.

Where to stay?

La Posada is the most popular area and where the parties are at. But there are other options such as La Pagoda and Homeros, which are a bit cheaper with less crowds. Another great option is to rent a house if you’re planning a stay for over a week.

Other information
Rest day or best day?

A huge plus to visiting El Potrero Chico is how affordable it is. After the hassle of driving across the border or an international flight. One can stay in Mexico for literally a fraction of US, Canadian, or European destinations.

Northern Mexico is known to be sketchy and dangerous, which is certainly true near the border. But the town of Hidalgo is one of the friendliest and mellow places I’ve ever been to. Don’t let this deter you from visiting this epic climbing destination.

 

Beta contributed by Kevin Boyko.

READ Potrero Chico First Ascentionist “Magic” Ed Wright Dies

About Moja Gear 

Moja Gear is a community-powered hub for rock climbing content and gear. Share and explore climbing stories, interviews, training tips, videos, and more at mojagear.com. Now through November 30, 2015, enter ROCKANDICE at checkout to save 15% .